School of International Letters and Cultures faculty stay busy over summer break

August 12, 2021

Faculty members in Arizona State University's School of International Letters and Cultures kept busy over the summer by not only preparing their syllabi for the fall semester but also presenting and publishing their research, earning professional credentials and traveling abroad.  

Pamela Howard, a lecturer in American Sign Language, completed a Langue des Signes Française (LSF) class in preparation for her upcoming study abroad trip to Paris in May, “American Sign Language: The French Connection.”
 people sitting in a circle in a room talking Kwale County, Kenya, Gov. Salim Mvurya (right) and a representative from social services and talent speak with Nina Berman (second from left) and Eileen Wilson. Download Full Image

“Although American Sign Language is related to LSF, there are more differences than similarities,” Howard said. “I learned that French deaf people fingerspell a lot less than American deaf people; while similar, their manual alphabet differs in the letters f, g, h, m, n, t, x and y.” 

School of International Letters and Cultures Director Nina Berman returned to her research location in Kwale County, Kenya. She completed work for an article on ecoliteracy and — in partnership with ASU colleagues Netra ChhetriOkey Iheduru, and Salah Hamdoun — performed research for a collaborative project on the economic impact of COVID-19.

She also conducted interviews for a study on the economic lives of Kenyans across a variety of professions and met with Kwale County Gov. Salim Mvurya to discuss her projects.  

Ligia Bezerra, an assistant professor in Portuguese, worked with a group of female scholars from across the United States on a bilingual publication of poems by female Brazilian writers. The forthcoming publication is an initiative of the Mulherio das Letras - USA (Women of Letters) group, which Bezerra co-founded in 2019 as an extension of a Brazilian movement to promote publishing literature written by women.

man at Honduras restaurant

Clinical Assistant Professor of Brazilian studies Glen Goodman gets ready to eat his first baleada — a traditional Honduran food consisting of a thick flour tortilla, beans, eggs, cheese and avocado.

“The translation will be an excellent resource for faculty teaching Brazilian literature and culture in English,” Bezerra said. “English translations of Brazilian literature, especially written by noncanonical writers, are limited in number so this translation will help bridge this gap.”

Clinical Assistant Professor of Brazilian studies Glen Goodman traveled to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador to meet with universities, government representatives, nongovernmental organizations, development implementers and other stakeholders as part of his involvement with the universitywide Central America Working Group. He also presented his research on ethnic food and tourism in southern Brazil at the Association for the Study of Food and Society’s virtual conference titled “Just Food: Because It Is Never Just Food.”

Finally, Goodman learned that he had been awarded a Fulbright-Hays Program grant to bring a dozen K–12 teachers from the Osborne and Phoenix Union school districts to Brazil next summer. That project’s goal is to create Brazilian studies and Portuguese modules for primary and secondary school curricula. 

Sara Lee, a lecturer in German, was one of nine people in the United States selected to complete training to become a national Goethe-coach. She will soon be able to travel the country to provide curriculum support and classroom visits to German teachers at any level. The program, sponsored by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, is a collaboration between the American Association of Teachers of German and the Goethe-Institut

“The most rewarding aspect of the training was definitely the intense collaboration and exchange with amazing fellow German teachers here in the U.S. who went through the training with me,” Lee said. “I worked with enthusiastic teachers who are top-notch in the area of teaching German and teaching pedagogy.” 

School faculty members and students provided lessons in Portuguese and Italian to a group of 86 middle school and high school students participating in the nonprofit Friendly House’s TRiO Talent Search college and career readiness program. The ASU organizers instructed students on elements of both language and culture. Many of the youths were heritage Spanish speakers and found the lessons relevant to their experiences, knowledge and interests. 

group of students

Over the summer, School of International Languages and Cultures faculty members and students provided lessons in Portuguese and Italian to middle school and high school students participating in the nonprofit Friendly House’s TRiO Talent Search college and career readiness program.

Clinical Assistant Professor of Spanish and Director of Spanish Language Acquisition Hope Anderson presented her research at two conferences. First was the International Association for Language Learning Technology conference, which was held virtually. Anderson presented with her colleagues Steven FlanaganAnne Walton-Ramirez and Kristin Elwood on the topic of “Implementing Synchronous Virtual Sessions in Online Language Courses.” 

Second was the American Association of Teachers of Spanish & Portuguese conference in July in Atlanta. Anderson’s presentation, “Abierto y Gratis: Developing Proficiency with All Digital Resources,” was based on a project she carried out in her Spanish classes. 

“It was energizing to attend in-person sessions and share ideas with other language professionals who are tackling some of the same issues that we are at ASU with classroom activities, second language and heritage learners, textbook materials, assessment and more,” Anderson said. 

These are just a few examples of the teaching, research and service activities completed by School of International Languages and Cultures faculty members over the summer. The professors look forward to carrying these experiences with them into the fall semester as they share what they have learned with their students and work to further enrich language and culture learning at ASU.

Kimberly Koerth

Content Writer, School of International Letters and Cultures

image title

Partnership with youth sports club brings community into new ASU research facility

August 12, 2021

Associate Professor Jason Siegler and students welcome soccer players to Phoenix Biomedical Campus

It’s not often in sports you get a win-win situation, but that was the case this past weekend when members of the SC del Sol soccer club paid a visit to the recently opened Wexford Innovation Center in downtown Phoenix.

Waiting for them when they arrived were College of Health Solutions Associate Professor Jason Siegler and a crew of ASU students ready to record their measurements as part of a new community partnership between the soccer club and the university that aims to give the players a chance to improve their game while also providing hands-on research opportunities for students.

“Wexford just opened and is kind of the jewel in the Phoenix Biomedical Campus crown at the moment,” said Siegler, who joined ASU last December. “Since the whole purpose of the space is to be a place where the universities and the community come together to innovate and create opportunities for research that advances economic growth, having a community organization here right at the beginning of its opening already using the building is a great showcase of its purpose.”

Up the staircase from the main lobby, in the bright, gleaming exercise physiology lab on the second floor, exercise and wellness master’s degree student Carson Gantzer stood, clipboard in hand, jotting down numbers as they were called out by undergraduates there to lend a helping hand.

“We’re recording the players' standing height, seated height and weight,” Gantzer said. Taken together and entered into a formula, those three measurements are used as part of a technique called bio-banding, which groups players together based on their physical maturity and biological age rather than their birth year.

“If you can imagine a 13-year-old who has totally gone through puberty and a 13-year-old that is a little bit behind, there is a stark difference physically,” Gantzer explained. “Neither is going to benefit from playing against each other, and this method sort of levels the playing field by allowing those who haven’t hit their growth spurt yet to level down if they choose.

“It’s also great for research purposes, because we could potentially look at how implementing different training programming based on where each player is at physically might make a difference in their performance.”

While bio-banding is still a relatively new concept in U.S. sports, Siegler, whose academic career researching human exercise performance includes a decade in Australia and five years in the U.K., has seen how it has given players an edge abroad and wanted to bring that knowledge to help augment ASU’s existing sports science and performance programming.

“There have been arguments for toughening kids up and letting them play regardless of where they’re at physically, to build resilience,” he said. “But it’s also an issue when kids are getting cut from programs just because they’re maturing at a different speed. So working with SC del Sol is a great way for us to step in and showcase the lab and what the university has to offer.”

A couple of Siegler’s students will be working with the soccer club on applied projects throughout the year. The first semester, they will focus on embedding themselves in the teams and building relationships with the coaches and players. The second semester, they’ll focus on their projects.

Gantzer is hoping to look into strength building for specific muscles with the goal of reducing common injuries, such as torn hamstrings and ACLs.

“This partnership gives me an opportunity to build connections with a community organization so that when it comes time to do my applied project, they already know who I am and we have a relationship there,” he said. “And it could also lead to job prospects in the future.”

Siegler sees the fact that SC del Sol is a local organization as another positive.

“In the states especially, a lot of university programs want to partner with professional organizations rather than local ones,” he said. “But providing sport science support for a local organization can sometimes be better for students. It allows them to apply their knowledge in their own community and potentially even build a career path that will allow them to stay there.”

If the SC del Sol coaches' reactions to what they saw at Wexford over the weekend are any indication, Siegler may very well be onto something. Andy Ward, assistant executive director for SC del Sol’s Boys Academy, called the facilities “unbelievable” and said he is looking forward to how the organization can continue working with ASU in the future.

Top photo: SC del Sol soccer player David L. has his seated height measured by College of Health Solutions staffer Theresa Jorgensen as part of a community partnership between ASU and the soccer club, which aims to help the players improve their game while also providing hands-on research opportunities for students. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU News

Emma Greguska

Reporter , ASU News

(480) 965-9657