President’s messages – Fall 2016

Dear FLANC Members,

Happy school year to everyone in the language teaching community!

On behalf of the Executive Council, I welcome our returning and new members and invite them to join me in thanking Dr. Fabián Banga, our 2014-2016 FLANC president, for his splendid job at guiding our association through two very productive and exciting years.  It is certainly an honor and a privilege for me to follow on someone who has been an outstanding leader and colleague.  I am especially grateful to know that I will be able to rely on his support and advice along my term.

Reflective of his dynamism as a professional, not only did Dr. Banga diligently fulfilled his duties as president but he has been also our association Webmaster for many years now.  As such, this summer, he took on the responsibility to update our site and turn it into a sophisticated, yet very user friendly and resourceful tool for our members.  Please, take a few minutes to visit our revamp website <www.fla-nc.com> and you will learn of the range of opportunities offered to the diverse language teaching communities in the region.  While in our site, explore the various grants and awards available to instructors as well as their students, such as the Gisèle Hart Membership Award, for new teachers, and the Alexandra C. Wallace Essay Contest, for students interested in conveying their experience in learning a second language.  Embracing our fall conference motto “GoGlobal@FLANC”, we are starting a “Digital Art Contest” and inviting students to create a clip related to the advantages of becoming proficient in another language and culture.  The video clip awarded the first place will be featured in our FLANC website! Continue reading “President’s messages – Fall 2016”

President’s Message – Fall 2015

I would like to start off by wishing all of you in our learning language community a fantastic 2015-2016 academic year. I not only wish you this in my name but also in the name of our FLANC executive council. We all know that, as language teachers, we often do not earn high salaries and furthermore, many of our non-tenured faculty make even less. I know how difficult it can be when we do not have access to all the resources we need to teach the way we would like. Languages are often not a priority on our campuses or elsewhere. In academia today the word “productivity” appears to be more often spoken than the word “humanities”. This is an uncomfortable reality. But, as we always say at the executive council, “we love what we do because we love languages”. We, the younger members of the council (and many of us are more than 40!) learned how to deeply love languages and our profession from those teachers who were part of the council before us. And new generation of teachers will come. We are working to leave them a strong and vibrant organization that will support them in the future.

I would also like to cordially invite you to our conference in November. Thanks to our kind friend, Francisco Zermeño, and his college, we will host our conference in Chabot College, Hayward this year. Because of their great hospitality, I know we will have another innovative and productive conference. Please visit our website fla-nc.org for more information.

All the best and I hope to see you in Hayward,

Dr Fabián Banga
President
Berkeley, August 29, 2015

President’s Message – Fall 2014

fabianAt the beginning of each semester, with the exhausting demands and challenges of preparing classes, managing departmental duties, spending time with our families, etc., I always remember the conversations I used to have with my dear friend and longtime member of FLANC, Norman Litz. We used to say that we could find many reasons why we should not be in this profession, but fortunately we could also find many more reasons why we wanted to continue in our chosen career. Norm was for me more than a friend; he was a mentor, a beacon, especially during difficult times in my professional life. For me it is impossible to imagine FLANC without remembering people like Norm. Fortunately, many like him are still with us in the Executive Council and in other similar organizations and institutions. People like Norm are one of the reasons why we continue this long tradition of teaching, especially of languages, in these stressful and complicated times.

And there is no doubt that we are living in difficult times. Our profession is under great stress, from the lack of resources to the epidemic of adjunctivism. Today, approximately 76 percent of all instructional appointments in higher education in the United Sates are for non-tenured positions (1). So the majority of instructors are working under extremely harsh conditions, many without basic benefits and in classes that are much more populated that the recommended number of students per instructor by respected institutions such as the Association of Departments of Foreign Languages (ADFL), which recommends 20 students per instructor (2). In the Modern Language Department in which I am Chair, the maximum number of student per class is usually 40; especially in introductory classes that are commonly taught by non-tenured instructors. Many of us are trying to change this phenomenon, but the task is extremely difficult. Furthermore we have the problem of the implicit message we give to our graduate students about teaching languages, particularly in language departments where second language acquisition courses are being taught predominantly by GSIs and lecturers. In those departments tenured professors normally only teach classes in literature. You will rarely find a tenured professor teaching languages. And then there is the issue of technology, which ideally should be used to support classrooms techniques and help to achieve student learning outcomes. However, most of the conversations about educational technology today appear to be mainly focused on the idea of using these technologies in ways that could serve the largest number of students with the fewest resources. In addition, more and more economical entities are directly or indirectly influencing curriculum, for example, through research and materials produced by the few textbook publishing giants. Another example of this corporate influence in our field that directly or indirectly affects us can be found in the use of consultants to outsource critical operations of the educational institutions such as technology and assessment. Consequently, the difficulties are enormous.

That is why I think that, in these times, it is extremely important to have a place where we can interact, support and motivate each other. This is why I will, during my tenure, propose different strategies and conversations to the Executive Council of FLANC that will attempt to address these modern issues. We will keep you all informed about new activities, reports and seminars that we will offer in addition to our regular annual conference that this year will be at Berkeley City College on November 7th and 8th.

Finally, I would like to add that in the last 14 years, FLANC, our regional institution, has been that sanctuary and oasis in which I and many of my friends have found the support and the answer to why we are in this career. This is why I am deeply thankful to the Executive Council, especially our past President Dr. Masahiko Minami, for all their exemplary work and dedication.

Dr Fabián Banga
President
Berkeley, August 23, 2014

 

1.- Background Facts on Contingent Faculty: http://www.aaup.org/issues/contingency/background-facts

2.- ADFL Guidelines and Policy Statements: https://adfl.mla.org/Resources/Policy-Statements