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USG Lands National Security Grant to Teach Foreign Languages

Atlanta — November 14, 2000

The University System of Georgia’s Office of International Programs and Services has been awarded a four-year, $431,750 grant from the U.S. Department of Defense’s National Security Education Program (NSEP), to offer the System’s more than 200,000 students Internet-based language courses in Japanese, Chinese and Russian.

Dr. Richard C. Sutton, director of International Programs and Services, announced the grant at today’s Board of Regents meeting during a presentation he delivered in recognition of the First U.S. International Education Week (November 13-17). An independent, merit-based national panel identified the programs for NSEP funding from among nearly 100 initial applications. The USG project, titled “On-Line Interactive Multimedia Instruction in Japanese, Chinese and Russian,” was among seven grant recipients.

The grant proposal was endorsed by a letter of support from Gov. Roy E. Barnes, who indicated his desire to “make foreign language instruction in Georgia a model for the nation.” Barnes cited that Japan is Georgia’s “single largest foreign investor,” and China represents its “largest potential export market.” Georgia operates trade offices in both countries.

The distance learning initiative is aimed at expanding the access of USG students to less-commonly taught foreign languages. The project also supports a key mission of NSEP, which is to “develop and strengthen the capabilities for U.S. institutions of higher education to educate U.S. students and faculty in critical languages, cultures, areas and international fields, thus strengthening the nation’s ability to operate effectively in the international environment.”

“NSEP officials are concerned about declining foreign language ability among U.S. citizens,” Sutton stated, “and they want to support language studies that will help rebuild our national capacity. Their program was a great funding fit for the University System’s Policy Directive on Internationalizing Education, which is aimed at increasing the number of USG students and faculty studying abroad.”

The new courses in Japanese, Chinese (Mandarin) and Russian will be included as on-line USG academic offerings each semester beginning as early as Fall 2001. They will be offered through the University System’s on-line portal, GeorgiaGLOBE, which provides access to USG academic offering ranging from individual undergraduate courses through full-fledged degree programs such as the System’s new WebMBA degree.

All 34 USG institutions will be invited to participate in the initiative. In addition to the on-line foreign language coursework, enrolled students will be provided technical assistance and interactive linguistic and tutorial services. The courses will use multi-media design such as streaming audio and video, as well as recording exercises to deliver the instruction. In addition, students will be required to submit tape-recorded oral assignments and audio clips reflecting linguistic accuracy as determined by computerized voice-wave patterns, and must participate in weekly telephone interviews utilizing the language.

A prototype Japanese course already has been developed and piloted by the University System to help evaluate the effectiveness of the initiative. The course was offered by Darton College, a two-year unit of the University System located in Albany, Ga. Among the students who participated in the pilot offering was an American school teacher living and teaching in Japan, who took the course to maintain his Japanese teaching certification.

Sutton anticipates the program will help double the number of students currently enrolled in the three under-represented foreign language courses. As of Fall 1999, 683 students within the University System were enrolled in Japanese courses; 274 were enrolled in Chinese courses; and 211 were enrolled in Russian courses.

During the first two years of the grant’s implementation, the program will provide USG students access to freshmen and sophomore-level foreign language courses. Students who complete the first-and second-year courses will be eligible to compete for federal scholarships providing one-semester of study abroad in the respective country of their foreign language study.

In the last two years of the initiative, USG officials are expected to establish a development model for Internet-based foreign language instruction that can be used to teach other less-commonly-taught language courses and to disseminate information regarding the course products to a broad national audience.

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