Southeast Asian Language Council (SEALC), UC Berkeley-UCLA Southeast Asia Consortium National Resource Center (UCB-UCLA NRC) and UCLA National Heritage Language Resource Center (UCLA NHLRC) co-organized a two-part Workshop on Heritage Language and Project-Based Learning, hosted virtually by UCLA in 2020-2021.

UCB-UCLA NRC and UCLA NHLRC already had plans to organize a Council of Teachers of Southeast Asian Languages (COTSEAL) workshop on heritage language and project-based teaching for Southeast Asian languages at UCLA campus as part of our U.S. Department of Education Title VI grants. In 2018, the two centers partnered with the recently formed SEALC on this project. SEALC is funded by the Henry Luce Foundation.

Due to travel restrictions that resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the workshop was reconfigured into a two-part webinar series. The workshop trainer, Maria Carreira, is a professor of Spanish at California State University, Long Beach and a founding member of UCLA NHLRC.

For Part 1, an online workshop was held on October 23-24, 2020 for 26 instructors, representing 7 Southeast Asian languages. The workshop introduced Project-Based Learning (PBL) to participants and built procedural knowledge to train instructors on how to instantiate this PBL approach in the classroom for students at different levels of proficiency.

Participants were divided into language-specific groups to brainstorm possible project themes and practice identifying driving questions. Instructors were also trained on how to align the products that students develop with their proficiency level by using ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines and other standards to gauge the linguistic difficulty of projects.

Part 2 of the workshop, held April 30 to May 1, 2021, applied the principles and practices of PBL presented in Part 1 to the development of instructional materials designed for curricula of Southeast Asian language classes. Fourteen participants representing six Southeast Asian languages attended.

The workshop allowed participants to review their understanding of HL/PBL concepts and their experiences applying this understanding in the classroom since Part 1. Participants were divided into language-specific groups again to discuss project themes, taking advantage of the smaller group size to delve deeper into contextual scenarios. At the end of the second day, participants finalized their project proposals, taking into consideration strategies for teaching mixed classes. Each language group then presented to the entire workshop, followed by reflections and closing remarks by Carreira.

Erlin Barnard (University of Wisconsin Madison) will oversee the development of PBL lessons in small working language groups, in tandem with selected participants who will act as language mentors. SEALC will provide additional support and peer review of the development of modules prior to posting them online to the SEALC and UCLA NHLRC websites for use by other instructors.

This year-long collaboration leveraged the institutional resources at UCB-UCLA NRC and SEALC, the expertise on heritage and project-based language instruction at UCLA NHLRC, and the large network of instructors in COTSEAL to contribute to expanding Southeast Asian language pedagogy training in the U.S.