Few studies actually focus specifically on the effects of professional development on student or teacher learning (Hill, 2004; Muijs & Lindsay, in press; Yoon, Duncan, Lee, Scarloss, & Shapley, 2007). Instead, most studies outline common features of professional development, describe approaches to structuring and implementing it that appear promising, and emphasize characteristics of “effective” professional development (Garet, Porter, Desimone, Birman, & Yoon, 2001; Guskey 2003; Leliveld, 2006). These characteristics typically derive from teachers’ self-reported perceptions collected immediately following the professional development through surveys that ask participants what they liked or disliked about the experience (Hill, 2004). Given the traditional unpopularity of professional development among teachers (Hawley & Valli, 1999), it is likely that these findings actually reflect more about what is wrong with existing professional development than they do the features of professional development that significantly affect teacher behavior in any lasting way. Thus, it is unlikely that they capture long-term changes in teachers’ thinking, learning, or implementation of material presented during the session.

Additionally, most future teachers are prepared by teaching assistants whose own professional development is limited (von Hoene, 2008), so few have ever personally experienced cognitively engaging, student-centered approaches such as collaborative learning, design-centered learning, problem-based inquiry learning, or service learning.


a focus on augmenting teachers’ instructional strategies will not be sufficient to sustain these new practices.

ideas in strategic ways that are appropriate to specific contexts and increasingly diverse student populations for many of whom language learning is now mandatory for graduation (Campbell & Duncan, 2007; Dounay, 2007; Kittok & Wertz, 2008; Peyton, 1997; Phillips, 2008).


Federal Appropriations, Federal Legislation, & Foreign Language Education


Foreign language education has been invoked by leaders in business, education, and government as a critical tool for enhancing national security (America Competes Act, 2007; Chu, 2005; Powell & Lowenkron, 2006; Tare, 2006) and ensuring economic competitiveness in international markets (Bell-Rose & Desai, 2005; Chu, 2005; Committee for Economic Development, 2006; Lost in Translation, 2007). Congress has enacted new legislation and appropriated millions of dollars in order to expand foreign language education through a wide range of initiatives (America Competes Act, 2007; Powell & Lowenkron, 2006; U.S. Department of Education, 2007; U.S. Department of State, 2008), that provide funding for the development of standards-based, content-related, technology-infused programs that foster the advanced transligual proficiency and transcultural competence of U.S. citizens—especially in critical needs languages[[#_ftn1|[1]]] (College Opportunity & Affordability Act of 2008; Homeland Security Education Act, 2007; Mandarin Language Teaching Grant Act, 2007; Strengthening America’s Innovation and Competitiveness Act, 2007; 21st Century National Defense Education Act, 2006). encouraging early language learning, fostering well-articulated language programs with high quality teachers, and encouraging K-16 students to study languages.
There is consensus among these initiatives regarding the nature, content, and implementation of successful world language programs that is in harmony with recent changes in the field’s understanding of central issues in world language education (Bush & Terry, 1997; Curtain & Pesola, 2004; Curtain & Pesola Dahlberg, 2000; Guntermann, 2006; Met, 1998; MLA Ad Hoc Committee on Foreign Languages, 2007; National Board for Professional Teaching Standards; National Standards in Foreign Language Education Project, 1999; Rosenbusch, 1995). Specifically,
1) They emphasize the development of advanced linguistic proficiency through long sequences of well-articulated instruction that begin early.
2) They encourage approaches that immerse students in the target language.
3) They understand that cultural competence is an essential component of proficiency in another language and, when possible, advise that programs include cultural exchanges and study abroad.
4) They recognize that a great deal of communication flows through new technologies and recommend that teachers infuse them into the curriculum in pedagogically sound ways.
In order to ensure that teachers are well prepared to develop and staff such high quality programs, these initiatives call for intensive summer professional development and teacher-to-teacher training programs.


[[#_ftnref1|[1]]] Languages considered critical to the national security of the U.S. include Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Pashto, Persian-Farsi, Portuguese, Russian, and Serbian-Croatian.


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A brief description of the content of each of these topic areas appears below.

Action research (2003). The focus of this topic was mentoring colleagues in using inquiry as a tool for examining philosophies of teaching and learning, evaluating the effectiveness of teaching practices, strengthening instructional decision-making skills, and contributing to the professional knowledge base in foreign language education in more formalized ways.
Assessment (2003). The focus of this topic was mentoring colleagues in using authentic, performance-based assessment tasks, rubrics, and electronic assessments to capture a strong picture of student progress toward meeting the goals outlined in the National Standards for Foreign Language Learning.
Early Language Learning (2003). The focus of this topic was mentoring colleagues in initiating, implementing, and sustaining effective early language programs using criteria for effective elementary programs, common program models, issues in program development and articulation, and techniques for educating community members regarding the need for long sequences of language instruction in order to assist students in achieving high levels of language proficiency.
Technology (2003). The focus of this topic was mentoring colleagues in using technology purposefully, well-scaffolded ways as a pedagogical tool for communicating with target language cultures and communities in authentic, real-time, multimodal ways across all three communicative modes (interpersonal, interpretive, and presentational).
Thematic teaching (2003). The focus of this topic was mentoring colleagues in experimenting with standards-based alternatives to more traditional, decontextualized approaches to language instruction by teaching them to distinguish between topical and thematic planning, ground curriculum in culturally authentic materials, and apply Wiggins & McTighe’s (2001) principles of backward design to the development of cognitively engaging, content-related, contextualized lessons that strengthen articulation between curriculum, instruction, and assessment (Sorgen-Goldschmidt, 2005).
Community outreach—interactions with community members (2006). The focus of this topic was mentoring colleagues in raising community awareness of the importance of language learning, engaging students in community-based and service learning with target language speakers, and generating community support for and involvement in language programs through innovative partnerships between schools and the community to ensure program continuity.
Differentiated instruction—interactions with students (2006). The focus of this topic was mentoring colleagues in ndividualizing instruction to better meet the needs, interests, and learning styles of increasingly diverse, changing populations of learners, including students in mixed level and mixed ability classes, as well as those with a wide range of special needs (such as giftedness, learning disabilities, and physical impairments).

Professional development—interactions with teachers (2006). The focus of this topic was mentoring colleagues in initiating, implementing, and sustaining change within the world language profession through professional development that activates participants’ prior knowledge; actively engages them in making sense and meaning of content through hands-on activities and multiple representations; provides them with opportunities to consolidate learning through critical reflection and closure activities; and offers follow-up support to help them better meet the changing needs and contexts of the people and school systems they serve.
Program development—interactions with parents, administrators, and policymakers (2006). The focus of this topic was mentoring colleagues in developing and sustaining articulated instructional programs in less commonly taught languages (LCTL) by equipping them to overcome cultural barriers to program development, recruit quality teachers and locate materials, integrate LCTL programs and personnel into existing language departments, and provide professional development for teachers from other countries.

Teacher preparation—interactions with preservice teachers and universities (2006). The focus of this topic was mentoring preservice teachers, cooperating teachers, and teacher educators in becoming active professionals who collaborate to design articulated, K-16 programs that culminate in effective teacher preparation experiences in world language education.


Multiple Literacies


The sociocultural contexts in which world language teachers must meet these challenges are changing in ways that further complicate these issues. Information continues to proliferate at a remarkable rate (Dimkovski & Deeb, 2007; Lyman & Varian, 2000) and new technologies have made its instantaneous, global dissemination possible. New and complex problem sets have emerged from the increasing interaction among people and ideas from diverse cultures and environments (Canton, 2006). The fact that such problems are the result of a synergy of contexts suggests that their solutions are also likely to be dynamic and distributed among multiple fields, domains, cultures. To function in a society that is so globally complex and multifaceted, learners must possess profound understanding of a wide variety of subjects, the ability to choose between multiple perspectives and frames of reference, and the cognitive flexibility to analyze, interpret, synthesize and represent information from ill-structured domains in powerful ways (Jonassen, 2003; Spiro, Feltovich, Jacobson, & Coulson, 1991). In other words, the sociocultural fabric of our society has changed (Benkler, 2006; Canton, 2006; Florida, 2005; Rheingold, 2008; Wesch, 2007) and by extension, so has the definition of what it means to be well-equipped to function within it (Burbules & Callister, 2000; Cazden, Cope, Fairclough, Gee, Kalantzis, et. al, 1996; Freed, 2003; García, Bartlett, & Kleifgen, 2006; Kobrin, 1997; Leu, Kinzer, Coiro, & Kammack, 2004; Jonassen, 2005; Livingstone, 2003; Sankey, 2003; Wilhelm, 2000). Students will need to develop transliteracy skills—“the ability to read, write, and interact across a range of platforms, tools, and media” (Thomas, 2007, p. 1), and so will their teachers.