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introducing Cory Mathieu, our summer research partner

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We’re excited to share the newest (summertime) addition to the add.a.lingua team: Cory Mathieu.

“Cory Mathieu is a MA/PhD student at the University of Minnesota studying Second Language Education with a focus on immersion education. Her educational training began at Earlham College, where she studied Comparative Languages and Linguistics as well as TESOL pedagogy. Cory has taught Spanish as a foreign language at the elementary and high school level. While teaching high school Spanish, she redesigned the curricula to include a modified Content-Based Instruction approach, piquing her interest in secondary immersion education.

“Cory has received a grant from the University of Minnesota to work with add.a.lingua in summer, 2016. While in Michigan, she will be supporting further development of the aalpa as well as spending time on the secondary curriculum framework. She will also be conducting an independent study investigating immersion educators’ perspectives on the materials in their classrooms.”

Cory, what got you interested in language acquisition, and language education generally?

As a high school student, I was greatly inspired by one Spanish teacher who pushed her students to produce the language for meaningful conversation while regaling us with stories of her adventures in Latin America and Spain. I had the opportunity to travel to Peru with her one summer, which was my first moment of realizing that I could use Spanish to truly communicate with native speakers, and I was hooked. I became interested in language acquisition in particular during my first year of undergraduate school when I took a class on Spanish linguistics. I was fascinated by the development of the Spanish language over time and, in particular, how it evolves in areas of language contact. I was also very interested in how languages are taught and learned, but didn’t become truly engaged with language education until I spent a summer in the Peruvian Amazon working at a library. My efforts to help the local children learn literacy skills in Spanish while also teaching some basic English classes at the village secondary school inspired me to pursue a career in language education. From my time around indigenous communities in the Amazon, I gained an interest in the social, political, and identity factors that impact language learning. Now that I have taught and worked in more formal educational settings, I am also interested in the development and implementation of progressive and effective language curriculum and materials here in the United States, particularly in terms of secondary foreign language education.

How did you learn about add.a.lingua and what motivated you to reach out to explore the possibility of collaborating?

I learned about add.a.lingua when Stacey Vanden Bosch presented in a course that I took this past fall as part of the Dual Language and Immersion certificate program offered at the University of Minnesota. During the presentation, I was impressed by the language frameworks that add.a.lingua has developed as well as the amazing language proficiency results that the partner schools are achieving. I am also very lucky to take courses with Dr. Diane Tedick and Dr. Mandy Menke at the University of Minnesota, both of whom have worked closely with add.a.lingua and strongly encouraged me to learn more about the organization.

“I was impressed by the language frameworks that add.a.lingua has developed as well as the amazing language proficiency results that the partner schools are achieving.”

When I discovered the opportunity to apply for a research internship grant through the University of Minnesota, I was inspired to reach out to add.a.lingua to begin conversations about learning from their expertise through an internship this summer.

Looking ahead to the work you hope to do over the summer, what excites you most about this opportunity?

I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with the aalpa assessment products that students from grades K-8 produce. I’m looking forward to examining how students’ language progresses year by year in the immersion programs that incorporate the add.a.lingua framework. This is a unique opportunity since most educators only get to interact with students from a few grades at a time. I’m also very excited about meeting and learning from practicing immersion teachers as they participate in interviews for my research study. Finally, I’m very much looking forward to working with the add.a.lingua staff since they have such broad and rich experiences in the field of immersion education.

Following your research this summer, what do you hope to do next?

This fall I will be returning to Minneapolis to conduct research for my MA thesis as a major step in my PhD program. I hope to incorporate my research this summer as a foundation for my thesis work as I plan to be observing in a high school Spanish immersion classroom for a considerable amount of time in order to investigate how teaching materials impact the overall classroom ecology. I’ll also be continuing my graduate coursework, including taking more certificate courses with some teachers from add.a.lingua partner schools!

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