Texas Language Center opens application for professional development award proposals

Claire Allbright

Proposals for Professional Development Awards to enhance language curriculum are now being accepted through the Texas Language Center. 

The Professional Development Awards typically range from $500 to $1500 and are available to any UT-Austin language instructor, according to Thomas Garza, director of the Texas Language Center.

“The Professional Development Awards were part of the initial mission/charge of the TLC to assist deserving language teaching faculty at all ranks in improving the instruction of languages and cultures to our undergraduate population,” Garza said in an email.

Garza said that between 75-80 percent of all submitted proposals are funded with an average yearly budget of $17,000 to $20,000. Garza said the proposals — which are selected based on clarity, feasibility and impact on students — contribute to some of the most innovative language projects on campus.

“Awards have been given, one: to attend professional conferences for faculty; two, to purchase materials to enhance teaching in existing courses; and three, to assist faculty in preparing new and innovative courses,” Garza said in email. 

Proposals are accepted through March 2, and may be implemented next semester between April 1 and August 31. 

Garza said while larger research funds are available for faculty through the College of Liberal Arts and several other organizations, TLC grants are intended to enhance undergraduate language programs.

Asian studies senior lecturer Naoko Suito has received the award four times to continue developing the Japanese Online Self-Help Utility (JOSHU) by adding grammar, writing, vocabulary, listening, speaking and reading exercises.

Suito said the JOSHU program is used daily in most Japanese courses at UT and is an essential part of UT’s Japanese Language program.

Devon Donohue-Bergeler, doctoral student in foreign language education, received the award last year to develop a drama-based curriculum for graduate students teaching German.

“The most immediate impact is in my GER 506 beginner German class this semester, where I’ve facilitated strategies such as creating group-based [still] pictures to learn and practice vocabulary or outlandish role-plays that elicit specific grammatical structures in a semi-authentic context,” Donohue-Bergeler said.

Donohue-Bergeler said he hopes the effects of this program will trickle down in the spring throughout undergraduate lower division German courses and would like to continue promoting the learning style funded by the professional development award.

“In a perfect world, I’ll make a future career in supporting UT faculty and graduate student instructors in the use of drama-based pedagogy across the curriculum,” Donohue-Bergeler said.