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Foreign language teachers learn new approaches to language

By By Georgia E. Frye / staff writer
June 19, 2003
Meridian High School French teacher Beverly Parsons said she would like students to become more fluent in foreign languages rather than just learning random words and grammar.
Parsons joined more than 25 teachers from Meridian, Lauderdale County and other areas across the state for a workshop designed to bring foreign language instruction in line with state guidelines.
The week-long event, sponsored and funded by the Croft Institute at the University of Mississippi, is being held at Meridian Community College. The workshop ends today.
Teachers attending also will receive three continuing education units for the seminar. John R. Gutirrez, Croft professor of foreign language education at Ole Miss, conducted the workshop.
Gutirrez said the workshop stresses the importance of teaching foreign culture. He said it also shows teachers how to create lessons using magazine articles, the Internet, brochures or anything that would spark student interest.
Gutirrez said the workshop is part of a 10-year project designed to strengthen foreign language skills in students. He said the long-term goal is to spark student interest in international studies at Ole Miss.
The international studies program at Ole Miss is open to 45 students each year. Of those, 10 will receive a full scholarship. Programs are available for French, German, Spanish, Russian, Chinese and Japanese.
Julie Holloway, a West Lauderdale High School French teacher who attended the workshop, said she believes foreign language is important because it reinforces other subjects like grammar, geography and history.
Parsons said she was excited about the workshop because it was proficiency-oriented and will help her teach students to use a foreign language.

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