by Marty Abbott, Executive Director for the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL)
Speaking up for Language Education: It’s Everybody’s Business
What is the role of language educators in the current climate of disruption to the notion of acceptance of those who speak other languages and come from other cultures? How can we equip ourselves not just to survive, but to thrive, during these times? Several national initiatives have provided important tools that language professionals can use to spur students and our expanded communities to speak up, take action, and effect change in order to bridge America’s language gap.
Marty Abbott is currently the Executive Director for the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL). Her career began in Fairfax County Public Schools (VA) where she was a language teacher, foreign language coordinator, and Director of High School Instruction. She has served on national committees to develop student standards, beginning teacher standards, and performance assessments in world languages. She was President of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages in 2003 and became its Executive Director in 2011. Under her leadership, ACTFL created the Center for Assessment, Research and Development and launched the public awareness campaign, Lead with Languages. She recently served as a commissioner for the American Academy of Arts and Sciences national report America’s Languages: Investing in Language Education in the 21st Century and in 2016 was appointed by President Obama to serve a four-year term on the National Security Education Board. She holds her B.A. degree in Spanish with a minor in Latin from the University of Mary Washington and a Master’s Degree in Spanish Linguistics from Georgetown University.
Invited Presentation by the Modern Language Association
Results from the 2016 MLA Language Enrollment Census: the View from Community Colleges
This presentation will present findings from the 2016 MLA Language Enrollment Survey with a focus on the applicability of specific data to colleagues in community colleges. Topics include: highlights of the survey and enrollment trends, how faculty members can use the data to advocate for the study of language(s) on their home campus, and the distribution of enrollments by institutional or program type in postsecondary education.
Since 2014, Dennis Looney (PhD, 1987, Comparative Literature, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) has served as director of the Office of Programs and director of the Association of Departments of Foreign Languages at the Modern Language Association of America. For the Office of Programs he oversees projects relating to the profession, such as departmental reviews, the ongoing examination of faculty rights and responsibilities, monitoring educational and curricular changes, and the development of statements of best practices. As director of ADFL, he oversees the Language Consultancy Service, the MLA Language Map, the language enrollment database, and other projects focused on languages other than English.
From 1986 to 2013, he taught Italian at the University of Pittsburgh, with secondary appointments in classics and philosophy. He was chair of the Department of French and Italian for eleven years and assistant dean of the humanities for three years at Pitt. Publications include Compromising the Classics: Romance Epic Narrative in the Italian Renaissance (1996), which received honorable mention in the judging for the 1996–97 joint Howard R. Marraro Prize and Scaglione Award in Italian Studies from the MLA, and Freedom Readers: The African American Reception of Dante Alighieri and the Divine Comedy (2011), which received the American Association of Italian Studies Book Prize (general category) in 2011.
Natalia Lusin is Associate Director of Research at the Modern Language Association. She has worked at the MLA in a research capacity since 1992, and as Associate Director since 2012. She conducts data gathering and data analysis for studies on the modern language field, among them the MLA enrollment census, considered the standard measure of language interest in higher education in the US.
Publications include “The MLA Survey of Postsecondary Entrance and Degree Requirements for Languages Other Than English, 2009-10,” “The ADFL Chairs’ Compensation Survey,” and “The Distribution of Gender in Language Doctorates.” She has co-authored the MLA enrollments reports since 2006, and was co-author of “Successful College and University Foreign Language Programs.” In addition, she has given papers on the enrollment census at the MLA convention in 2015 and at an ADFL seminar in 2017.
She holds a BA in Russian from Queens College, CUNY, a PhD in Russian literature and language from Columbia University, and a certificate from the Russian (now Harriman) Institute of Columbia University. She is the author of Russian Grammar (Barron’s, 1992) and Master the Basics: Russian (Barron’s 1995) and was Assistant Professor of Russian literature and language at Hunter College, CUNY from 1988 to 1990.