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Language Learning Community Grows Through Mellon Grant

Posted: July 11, 2012

Hampshire College was recently awarded a grant of $250,000 from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation that funds the continued development of Hampshire’s “language learning community.”

The grant builds on a $730,000 Mellon grant awarded in 2008 and will be used to deepen language studies in the humanities and sciences in practical and applied ways. The funding will allow numerous initiatives, including the expansion of the science faculty’s language acquisition work in field-based research settings, involving students to a greater extent in language learning-related activities, and institutionalizing key aspects of the World Language Enrichment and Acquisition program. The WLEA serves as the advising center that provides guidance for faculty and students on the language learning opportunities at Hampshire and throughout the Five Colleges.

WLEA Program Director Pamela Shea noted that discussions with faculty, staff, and students shaped the development of the grant request.

“We have accomplished so much in the first four years of the grant, and we are so thrilled that we have received this generous grant extension to further our mission of making Hampshire a language learning community,” said Shea. “The sky’s the limit, and the seeds that we planted four years ago have already taken root and grown.”

In August, Five College natural science faculty (including two from Hampshire) will spend three weeks in the Bolivian Amazon in a pilot program funded by the grant. In collaboration with the nonprofit conservation organization Selva International, they will work with indigenous communities to co-develop applied research projects addressing local needs and issues. The trip is also intended to lay the groundwork for language-enriched field research opportunities for Hampshire and Five College students.

On campus, the funding has been designated for several uses. One of the major curriculum additions is an intensive TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) course in May 2013, part of an initiative to build capacity for TESOL teacher training to meet student demand. Other uses of the grant include hiring a postdoctoral fellow with strengths in translation studies, a curriculum development retreat for faculty where new language learning integration strategies and ideas will be discussed, and a translation festival showcasing Division II and III projects.

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