Cal State Fullerton has opened its National Resource Center for Asian Languages on campus, thanks to a four-year $709,564 grant from the U.S. Department of Education.
The center, established in October, is housed in the College of Education. The center focuses on developing material and resources, teacher training and promoting dual language immersion for less commonly taught languages in the U.S., which include Vietnamese, Korean, Chinese and Japanese.
It will be a resource for the university, parents and Orange County’s educational community, including teachers in local school districts.
Natalie Tran, associate professor and the center’s director, said there is a need for these languages.
The center is one of about 15 Asian language centers in the country, Tran said.
Other Asian language centers tend to focus on the Chinese and Japanese languages, Tran said. The CSUF center focuses mainly on Vietnamese.
The idea for the center at CSUF came about when teachers and researchers discovered that there were few instructional resources when it came to teaching Asian languages, Tran said.
“There is such a lack of instructional materials and such a lack of assessment,” she said.
Because of the few resources available, many teachers have resorted to creating their own lessons and instructional materials, Tran said.
“A lot of people out there are waiting to see what type of work we will be able to develop and produce,” Tran said.
CSUF offers a bachelor’s degree program in Japanese and minors in Vietnamese and Chinese, as well as courses in Korean.
A bachelor’s degree program in Vietnamese language and studies is pending final approval. Students who are interested in entering the Vietnamese bachelor’s program may take courses that will apply to the degree once it is approved. Tran expects degree approval next year.
She and her team plan on seeking additional external funding through foundations and the U.S. Department of Education.
“Our goal is to do a good job this cycle so we can re-apply in four years and receive more funding,” she said. “This is a unique opportunity to be a leader in this area.”
Tran has been working with CSUF’s College of Education, the California Association for Bilingual Education, the Vietnamese American Chamber of Commerce, secondary language teachers and teachers in various school districts to form the National Resource Center for Asian Languages.
<em>Angie Marcos, Orange County Register</em>