Dr. Orlando Kelm, who specializes in Brazilian Portuguese, has received a competitive International Research and Studies (IRS) Instructional Materials grant from the U.S. Department of Education. Brazilian Portuguese was recently designated a “Less Commonly Taught Language” by the Federal Government and is in very high demand. Brazil is the fifth largest country in geographic size, the fourth most populous, and the world's ninth largest in purchasing power.
The three year grant for a total of $503,017 will allow Kelm to complete Conversa Brasileria, an instructional website geared at intermediate to advanced learners. A preview of Conversa Brasileria is already available for viewing online.
Rich in video, the site will ultimately feature 40 short clips of Brazilians speaking about common conversational topics, using natural, non-scripted language. In addition, the clips will be supported by interactive features, including vocabulary definitions, English translations, and additional commentary and analysis. Think of it as the “director’s commentary” on a movie DVD, or the popular “pop-up” music videos.
This is not the first time Professor Kelm has received recognition for his innovative and effective use of instructional technology. He was the Spring 2009 Dean’s Fellow of the Texas Language Technology Center, and is Associate Director of Business Language Education at the Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER), where he piloted online instructional videos in the form of interviews with Brazilian speakers in professional business settings.
Professor Kelm’s work embodies the agile use of emerging technology for instructional purposes. He keeps abreast of current trends, such the creative integration of various free and low-cost social networking tools to create a unique online presence that expresses his passion for effective pedagogy. All of his teaching tools can be found together under the banner of Brazilpod, a website that serves as a portal to Conversa Brasileria, as well as his 2008 IITAP Gold Award winning Ta Falado, a series of podcasts which help speakers of Spanish learn Brazilian Portuguese.
Perhaps the most revealing online expression of Kelm’s work is his aptly self-titled personal blog. Here, a simple tag line reveals his approach to teaching and openness to learning all kinds of languages, including Chinese. “Love learning foreign languages, without worrying about perfection.”