Department Outreach Programs-Modern Languages - Carnegie Mellon University

Department of Modern Languages Community Outreach

With much enthusiasm Modern Languages students and faculty engage in a variety of partnerships in the Pittsburgh region. Through service-learning courses, educational and social programs, and consulting and research, we seek to learn, grow, and enhance the quality of life in our region with the bridges we build with local communities and institutions in Pittsburgh, Western Pennsylvania, and beyond.

Service-Learning Courses

In our service-learning courses, Modern Languages students and faculty work with pupils and teachers of World Languages in the Pittsburgh Public Schools and the Chinese and Japanese weekend schools; they provide translation assistance for families and health care professionals in local hospitals; they engage in action research to explore the histories of local immigrant populations; and they participate in Alternative Break service-learning courses, traveling out of Pittsburgh to work in various communities in other parts of the world.

Educational and Social Programs

Educational and social programs launched by Modern Languages faculty and students have built connections with Spanish-speaking immigrant children and their families in the greater Pittsburgh area, with families of Chinese and Japanese heritage, and with students and teachers in Granada, Nicaragua.

Faculty and graduate students in Modern Languages engage in consultation and research to foster appreciation and demonstrate the significance of learning additional languages and cultures. They conduct workshops for local teachers to support curriculum development and aid in the implementation and evaluation of language learning programs.

We are grateful to Carnegie Mellon's Leonard Gelfand Center for Service Learning and Outreach for its support of many of our initiatives.

Recent and Ongoing Modern Languages Outreach Initiatives

Service Learning Courses

82-281 Tutoring for Community Outreach (6-9 units)
82-282 Community Service Learning in Modern Languages (variable units)
82-299 Alternative Break Project (variable units)
82-489 Service Learning in the Community (9-12 units)

Educational and Social Programs

  • Mariana Achugar, Kenya Dworkin, and Felipe Gómez established and work actively on behalf of the Círculo Juvenil de Cultura, a program for Spanish-speaking children and their families in the western Pennsylvania area.
  • Since 1996, students of Modern Languages have tutored in the Pittsburgh Public Schools under the supervision of Susan Polansky. Many of the tutors have enrolled in the course Tutoring for Community Outreach.
  • Michael West and Marc Siskin hosted the visit of fifty ninth-grade students of French from Pittsburgh's University Prep High School. The group attended French classes with Carnegie Mellon students and visited the Modern Language Resource Center.
  • Bonnie Youngs co-organized the 2008 state language teachers’ conference (PSMLA), which welcomed more than 200 foreign language teachers from around the state to Pittsburgh.
  • Tianxue Yao actively supports the work of the Tzu Chi Academy Pittsburgh, a weekend school specializing in introducing Chinese language, culture, and values.
  • Kenya Dworkin and Therese Tardio have worked closely with students on Alternative Break service-learning trips to Nicaragua, Ecuador, and Panama.

Consultation and Research

  • In the Granada Arts Education Project, alumna Mauren Antkowski, with the support of Therese Tardio, collaborates with artists, teachers, and students of art in Granada, Nicaragua in the development of a creative arts curriculum for students who would otherwise not have access to art education.
  • Mariana Achugar, Yasufumi Iwasaki, Chan Lu, Susan Polansky, and Yueming Yu have participated in a workshop for teachers and students of the Chinese School of Pittsburgh.
  • Yasufumi Iwasaki has provided workshop training on the development of conversational and literacy skills at a Japanese Pedagogy Workshop for college and high school Japanese teachers.
  • Dick Tucker continues his 4-year involvement with the Young Scholars of Western Pennsylvania Charter School to assist with the implementation and the evaluation of a K-8 Spanish language teaching program.
  • Susan Polansky and the Department of Modern Languages are partnering with teachers and students of World Languages in grades K-8 in the Pittsburgh Public Schools to implement an Enhancing Education Through Technology Grant (EETT).