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Online Language Learning Videos Feature Two Kent State Professors

Posted Mar. 8, 2010

Two Kent State University instructors from its Foreign Language Academy were among 10 world language professors chosen by the National Foreign Language Center to be featured in its STARTALK’s online language learning modules. STARTALK is a program of the National Foreign Language Center and helps support the teaching of foreign languages in American schools.Photo of Uma Krishnan

Instructors Uma Krishnan, who teaches Hindi and lives in Twinsburg, and Fetna Mikati, who teaches Arabic and resides in Kent, were selected to produce online learning videos to serve as examples of best practices in teaching critical needs languages. Such languages include Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, Japanese, and Russian. Individuals who teach these languages have full-access to these videos.

Kent State’s co-director of the Foreign Language Academy Theresa Minick said the instructors were selected based on a site visit by STARTALK evaluators. The site visit included classroom visits; interviews with students, peer mentors and resident advisors; and a review of the curriculum and immersion program.

“STARTALK chose these instructors because they exemplified best practices in the teaching and learning of critical languages and using Web 2.0 technologies,” Minick said.

Krishnan and Mikati, as well as Minick and Brian Baer, academy director and associate professor of Russian in the Department of Modern and Classical Language Studies, worked together to develop the curriculum that would be presented in the STARTALK Classroom Video Collection, which is now available.

Krishnan’s online lesson combines Hindi language, culture and information in the form of multimedia to explain the Nehru dynasty and the concept of multigenerational families.Photo of Fetna Mikati

Mikati’s module demonstrates the Arabic language through an authentic interview between two native speakers, illustrating proper greetings in context and the procedure of an Arabic interview.

As a result of the National Security Language Initiative, STARTALK focuses on enriching high school students’ and teachers’ capabilities of learning and grasping world languages that are not widely taught in the United States.

Baer said the program provides unique opportunities for participants.

“Students are exposed to technology so that they become comfortable and can create an online presence,” Baer said. “The academy also connects students to the community through field trips and service learning projects.”

STARTALK is the newest of the component programs of the National Security Language Initiative (NSLI) announced by former President Bush in January 2006. The initiative seeks to expand and improve the teaching and learning of strategically important world languages that are not now widely taught in the United States. Other programs under the NSLI umbrella include Title VI/Fulbright Hays programs of the U.S. Department of Education, The National Security Education program of the National Defense University, and study abroad and exchange programs of the U.S. Department of State.

To see Krishnan and Mikati in action, visit the STARTALK at For more information, contact Jennifer Larson, chair of the Department of Modern and Classical Language Studies at Kent State, at 330-672-1801.

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Media Contacts:
Jennifer Larson,, 330-672-1801
Emily Vincent,, 330-672-8595