STARTALKING in Portuguese

in News, News Fall 2012
September 10th, 2012

Celia Bianconi (center, in red), Sue Griffin (second from right) and participants in STARTALK, Boston University, summer 2012

Célia Bianconi (center, in red), Sue Griffin (second from right) and participants in STARTALK, Boston University, summer 2012


Célia Bianconi and Sue Griffin ran a highly successful STARTALK Portuguese Teacher Training program this summer for sixteen teachers of Portuguese from public and private schools, colleges and universities.

STARTALK–a great way to “start talking”–is a natonal Presidential initiative to fund summer programs in critical languages. Boston University’s STARTALK program addressed a critical lack of professional-development programs available to teachers of Portuguese and focused on quality standards-based teaching through a month-long online course followed by an intensive five-day onsite portion.

The online course introduced participants to topics such as working with heritage learners, assessment, standards-based teaching methods, community-based education, curriculum design, second language acquisition theory, and utilizing technology effectively. The onsite portion allowed teachers to interact with leaders in these fields and to work together to address the many challenges that face language teachers today. A teaching practicum involved volunteer students from the BU and Boston communities. The program culminated with an award ceremony.

Site visitors found the program impressive, “a wonderful addition to the STARTALK family,”  and praised director and lead instructor for creating a “warm and welcoming environment for learning.”  The curriculum was “comprehensive yet not overwhelming” and the “online portion provided an in-depth introduction to many areas that came together for the participants when they arrived on site.”

Sincere thanks to Dr Ethel Jorge (Pitzer College), Dr. Patricia Sobral (Brown University), Dr. Maria de Lourdes Serpa (Lesley University), Dr. Gláucia Silva (UMass, Dartmouth), Simone Elias (Northeastern University), and Dr. Gisela Hoecherl-Alden, Dr Karen Price, Liliane Duséwoir (all from Boston University) for their participation. Additional thanks go to Adel Faitaninho, Rebecca Jackson, Gabriella Campozano, Gin Schaffer, Fernando Sousa, for or all their help and support and to Gabriela Guimarães Gazzinelli for a wonderful awards ceremony.