Fulbright to support study of second-language learning in Spain

July 24, 2012

Meeting the needs of students who are not fluent in the official language of schooling, a significant concern in Arizona, is also a key issue in Barcelona, Spain. A doctoral candidate from ASU’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College has been selected for a Fulbright U.S. Student Grant to spend the spring of 2013 in Barcelona, investigating how language education policy was created to support students who are not native speakers of Catalan is implemented.

Sarah Newcomer currently is completing her Teachers College doctorate in curriculum and instruction with an emphasis on language and literacy. Sarah Newcomer Download Full Image

“My dissertation focuses on how one school community here in Phoenix has been able to negotiate the state’s current language policies in order to continue offering a curriculum that includes a Spanish/English dual language program,” Newcomer said. “I am learning that a schoolwide culture and community that value the concept of the whole child are necessary to sustaining such programs.”

Newcomer’s Fulbright study will provide a comparison of how school communities implement and negotiate language education policies in Barcelona and Arizona. The region of Catalonia presents a unique research location and counterpart to Arizona for several reasons, she explained.

Arizona and Catalonia are similar in that each has a historically diverse population, which now includes a large number of immigrants. Within the last 30 years, Spain has experienced a large-scale wave of immigration, which has accelerated rapidly within the past 10 years.

“Here in Arizona, 10 percent of all school-aged children are English learners,” Newcomer said. “So Arizona and Catalonia both face the challenge of how best to support students who often do not speak the official language of schooling. The policies designed to address these challenges in the two locations are fundamentally different, yet produce similar results. I’m excited about the exceptional opportunity I have been afforded through the Fulbright Grant to compare language policy implementation in both locations.”

Newcomer, who grew up in the Valley and graduated from Tempe High School, describes herself as having a longtime interest in the intersections of language, culture and identity in schools. She has studied and taught abroad, is fluent in Spanish, and has studied French, Italian and Japanese. As an ASU graduate student she was introduced to the topic of language planning and policy and how such policy can affect the learning experiences of young people in school.

“I look forward to comparing my current research findings with what is happening in schools in Barcelona, where Spanish and Catalan are co-official languages, but where the primary language of schooling is in Catalan,” Newcomer said. “I hope to learn more about the experiences of Catalan learners, most of whom are from immigrant families. Dedicated and talented educators all over the world work hard to support language learners but often must do so within a multi-layered context of policy. What does this look like in the classroom and how does it affect students’ experiences?”

“We are pleased that Sarah will be continuing the important line of inquiry she initiated in her dissertation through her Fulbright award to Spain,” said Ann Dutton Ewbank, assistant division director for the Division of Educational Leadership and Innovation in Teachers College. “Sarah’s important research will expand the body of knowledge about language policy and planning, which has immediate applications for all language learning programs. Her work exemplifies the preparation in socially embedded research for which Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College PhD programs prepare students.”

Newcomer has accepted a position as assistant professor of literacy education at Washington State University at Tri-Cities this fall.

“I know that such an exciting year of teaching and research would not be possible without the excellent classes within the language and literacy program here at ASU,” she said. “I very much appreciate all the faculty members who have helped me along this graduate school journey, particularly my advisor, Aya Matsuda; my committee members, Teresa McCarty and Carmen Martinez-Roldán; and my Fulbright advisor, Janet Burke. I would not be receiving the Fulbright award without their encouragement and unwavering help.”

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program provides grants for individually designed study/research projects or English Teaching Assistantships. The program facilitates cultural exchange through direct interaction on an individual basis. Fulbrighters meet, work, live with and learn from the people of the host country, sharing daily experiences.

Pac-12 Media Day at Universal Studios a success

July 25, 2012

Pac-12 Media Day took place at Universal Studios in Los Angeles Tuesday. ASU head coach Todd Graham, along with running back Cameron Marshall and linebacker Brandon Magee, were in attendance to preview the 2012 season.

The Sun Devils spoke to media earlier this morning. Make sure to follow @SparkyArizona State on Twitter to follow your Sun Devils. Download Full Image

Click here to view quotes from the Sun Devil's availability earlier today.

Click here to view a photo gallery.

Fans can also watch all of the Pac-12 team's press conferences here

USC is the favorite to win the 2012 Pac-12 Conference football title in a preseason poll of media members who cover the league. The Trojans were listed in the top spot in the North Division by 117 of the 123 voters participating in the poll, collecting 729 points. 102 of those pollsters tabbed the Trojans to come out on top in the Pac-12 Championship Game. Utah was picked to finish second in the South Division, collecting one first-place vote in the balloting for the division race. Arizona State claimed three of the other five first-place votes, with each of those members of the media casting a vote for the Sun Devils to capture the Pac-12 title.

Oregon was picked to win the North Division, garnering 732 points and 117 first place votes, while Stanford, which tallied five of the other six first place votes, was pegged to finish second in this year's poll. California, predicted by the voters to finish fourth in the North Division, claimed the remaining first place vote. The media poll has correctly selected the Conference Champion in 28 of 51 previous polls, including 11 of the last 12. Following are the results of the preseason media poll (points 6-5-4-3-2-1, first-place votes in parentheses):


1. Oregon (117) 732

2. Stanford (5) 533

3. Washington 502

4. California (1) 382

5. Washington State 228

6. Oregon State 205


1. USC (117) 729

2. Utah (1) 514

3. UCLA (2) 435

4. Arizona 385

5. Arizona State (3) 353

6. Colorado 164


USC (102 votes) Others receiving votes: Oregon (18), Arizona State (3)

The 2012 Pac-12 Championship Football Game will take place Friday, November 30 at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT and telecast to a national audience on FOX. The Championship game will match the winner of the North Division vs. the winner of the South Division. The game will be played on the campus of the division winner with the best overall conference record. The winner of the Pac-12 Championship will earn the league's automatic BCS berth. POLL NOTES: Preseason media poll has correctly picked the Conference champion 28 of 51 times and has been very accurate of late, correctly identifying the Conference champion in 11 of the last 12 years ... USC is picked to win the league for the 31st time (1963, 1965-82, 1985, 1989, 1995-96, 2003-09, 2012), having proven the prognostication correct 18 times.