Profiles in Language Teaching at UT: Karen Kelton
Karen Kelton is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of French and Italian and the Project Manager in the Texas Language Technology Center. She supervises lower-division French courses and directs the UT Summer Program in Lyon, France.
Curriculum development has been the focus of her career at UT, in particular, building Tex’s French Grammar and Français interactif with colleagues for UT’s first year on-line French program. At TLTC she is the project manager for Grimm Grammar, Deutsch im Blick, and Chansons françaises.
I teach lower division French language classes, the first-year classes that I supervise using Français interactif and then classes on the Summer in Lyon Program that I have directed since 2002. On the Lyon Program I usually teach the third semester language class as well as the FC 345, Perspectives on Contemporary French Culture. I, too, love to focus on the cultural aspects of learning a language and the study abroad experience in particular. My goal has always been to encourage as many students as possible to go abroad, to explore other cultures and to reflect on their own.
Favorite Materials/Methods / Innovations to Teaching Languages
I agree with Orlando about student learning and in fact, my favorite phrase to beginning graduate student instructors is, “It’s not what you do that is important. What are your students doing?” Thus, the emphasis on ‘interactive’ in Français interactif.
Building the UT first-year French curriculum (Français interactif and Tex’s French Grammar) has been the focus of my work at UT (with my French colleagues, Carl Blyth and Nancy Guilloteau, of course, and an army of graduate students, faculty and technical collaborators including Eric Eubank and Nathalie Steinfeld). The vidoes of native speakers and our own UT students on the Lyon Program in Français interactif transport the student virtually to France. The people are real, not the fake Sophie or Jean-Pierre characters that abound in traditional beginning textbooks. Even Tex’s French Grammar is peopled by a cohesive, albeit imaginary and bizarro world of French-speaking critters. The Français interactif videos give beginning students multiple models of authentic language, and also integrate cultural information and language seamlessly to promote questioning, comparisons, social encounters across cultures. Français interactif just received the 2009 CALICO Access to Language Education Award.
I am especially proud of our efforts at TLTC to build on the model of Français interactif to produce open access multimedia resources in other languages, Grimm Grammar, Deutsch im Blick, Radio Arlecchino (Rockin’ Russian), etc. TLTC received the MERLOT World Languages Classic Award in 2009 for its websites.
My current TLTC project (with Nathalie, Nancy Guilloteau, and a team of graduate students) is the print-on-demand version of the Français interactif textbook to radically reduce costs. A link on the FI website to qoop.com allows students to buy the textbook and have it delivered to their doorstep for less that $20. TLTC has just received a FIPSE grant to form a publishing consortium with three other Texas schools (Rice, TCU, and Lone Star Community College in Houston) to further develop a sustainable publishing model for producing foreign language materials.
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