From the President

December 2003

Source: CLTA Newsletter 27.3. December 2003, p. 3. December, 2003

Greetings, it is my turn and my distinct pleasure to serve this year as president. As I begin my message, let me start with some good news: foreign language education is gaining more attention in the United States.

MLA’s recent survey has shown “more college students studying foreign languages than ever before” and the number of students studying Chinese in U. S. institutions of higher education increased by 20%, from 28,456 in 1998 to 34,153 in 2002, a 5.5 times increase since 1970. Secretary of Education Rod Paige stated at this year’s ACTFL annual conference, “foreign language instruction is an important part of education and vital knowledge for every child. … our students need a working knowledge of languages to compete in the future …” ACTFL and co-sponsoring organizations proclaim 2005 The Year of Languages.

As we enter the 21st century, we can look forward to exciting changes. CLTA is devoted to advancing the worldwide mission of education in Chinese and advocating the advancement of scholarship in Chinese language, literature, culture, pedagogy, and applied and theoretical linguistics. We have made great strides over the past 40 years in professionalizing our field and we are building success from a strong base. During our progression, we have acquired much better understanding of the nature of Chinese language acquisition and Chinese language pedagogy. We have achieved a great deal of success in curriculum and material development, assessment, and the integration of technology. Yes there is still much to do. We need to explore new horizons to make language, literature and linguistics integral components of a strong Chinese program. We need to create new opportunities for teacher development and for action research that helps teachers understand more about the teaching and learning process, reflect on the effectiveness of their work, and make informed instructional decisions. At this year’s board meeting we decided to initiate a plan for empirical research workshops led by Board Member Professor Michael Everson.

As the result of the generosity of an anonymous member, CLTA has recently established the Jiede Empirical Research Grant to support empirical research in Chinese pedagogy and applied linguistics that contributes to building a sound understanding of teaching and learning Chinese as a Foreign Language. We also have the following awards for competition: Walton Award for overall contributions to the field of Chinese language pedagogy, the Walton Presentation Prize to recognize the best presentation by teachers at the pre-college level and graduate students at the annual meeting, and the Cheng & Tsui Professional Development Award to support the attendance of pre-collegiate and collegiate teachers to training workshops and seminars. For more information on these awards, visit our website http://clta-us.org/awards/ [URL updated]. This year’s Walton Award goes to Prof. Yuehua Liu, and the Jiede Grant to Dr. Helen Shen. The Cheng & Tsui Award will be held over until next year. Congratulations to all! Our challenge is to ensure that similar funds continue to grow, so that we can recognize and serve the most deserving members of our community, as we ought. If you can, please contribute and encourage others to make similar contributions. I also encourage all CLTA members to work to make our organization stronger and broader by providing a membership form to your colleagues and invite them to join.

I conclude by thanking our Immediate Past President Dana Bourgerie and our outgoing members of the Board of Directors Martha Wang Gallagher, Claudia Ross (IPP for 2002-03), Richard VanNess Simmons, and Zheng-sheng Zhang for their dedicated service. As always, we are most grateful to our hardworking Executive Director, Cyndy Ning, and to Prof. Marjorie Chan and her web team for providing us with the most updated and relevant information. Our thanks also go to our new journal editor Vivian Ling, our new book review editor Michael Everson and our new Newsletter editor Tianwei Xie. They are working hard to enhance our publications. As you may notice from the recent issue of our journal, more features were added to make it more user-friendly and reaching out to a larger readership. I look forward to a productive and fulfilling year with you all and I hope you will feel free to share your thoughts and views with me at <bai@kenyon.edu>.

Best wishes to all for 2004!

Jianhua Bai, President of CLTA, 2003-04
Kenyon College