Sept. 29, 2009
CONTACT: Gordon Ovenshine:
SRU's Spanish, French programs receive national acclaim
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Slippery Rock University's secondary-education programs in Spanish and French have been named programs of distinction by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and the American Council on Teaching of Foreign Languages. The recognition means the programs meet national standards of excellence and that SRU students demonstrate advanced foreign language skills.
"You cannot be a program of distinction unless your students are at the advanced level of language proficiency," said Melinda Ristvey, SRU professor of modern languages and cultures. "We are extremely happy."
SRU's programs meet the standards in all six categories required for the honor: language, linguistics and comparisons; cultures, literatures and cross-disciplinary concepts; language acquisition theories and instructional practices; integration of standards into curriculum and instruction; assessment of language and cultures and professionalism.
Not only do SRU students demonstrate a high level of language proficiency, they seek out opportunities to strengthen their skills outside the classroom and engage in professional development opportunities that boost their cultural understanding of the counties in which the target language is spoken, Ristvey said.
"Our curriculum is designed to produce educated speakers of the language," she said. "Teacher candidates in French and Spanish must communicate at the advanced level for admission to student teaching and for certification."
Ristvey, who submitted a report to the accrediting agencies summarizing the programs' accomplishments, said she has never heard of an institution getting national recognition the first time it submits a report. She expects SRU's accomplishment to be a good recruiting tool because it adds an element of prestige for seeking employment.
"It will be a really good recruiting tool, because students will know they are going to go through a program that is nationally recognized as a program of distinction," she said. "Graduates who go out and get a teaching position, employers know they are getting a qualified candidate. SRU is well known for teacher preparation, but this is the first time we have been nationally aligned with a specialized program in languages."
SRU's College of Education and the department of modern languages and cultures in the College of Humanities, Fine and Performing Arts, offer most of the classes required for a degree in secondary education/Spanish or French. SRU strongly encourages students to study abroad and requires 20 hours of contact with students in a diverse setting, among other degree requirements.
As the world becomes smaller due to technology advances, Ristvey expects the job market to soar for college graduates with foreign language skills. SRU also offers classes in Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, German and Russian.
"We are living in a global economy, and there is a critical need for language teachers in all areas. The employment opportunities are phenomenal," she said. "These graduates can pick and choose their jobs. I get phone calls all the time from principals and superintendents needing language teachers. They say, 'Hey, I need a Spanish teacher. I need a French teacher. If you tell me they're good, I'll take them.'"
NCATE works to establish quality teacher-preparation programs through program accreditation. ACTFL is a non-profit organization that advocates for quality teaching and learning of languages.
Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.