Carnegie Mellon University
January 26, 2024

Natalie Amgott Honored with Early Career Research Award

By Karen Richters

In the ever-evolving landscape of language education, Natalie Amgott is driving innovation and reshaping the way learners engage with online language learning at Carnegie Mellon University. Recently, her dedication and impactful research were acknowledged as she received the prestigious Early Career Research Award from the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL).

Amgott's academic journey has been marked by a commitment to unraveling the complexities of language acquisition, curriculum design, and online language learning experiences. Armed with a Ph.D. in Second Language Acquisition & Translation from the University of Arizona, she brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her role as the associate director of Online Language Learning in the Department of Modern Languages.

The Early Career Research Award, bestowed upon Amogtt in November 2023, stands as a testament to her exceptional achievements and commitment to pushing the boundaries of language education. This prestigious accolade recognizes her significant contributions to second language learning through publications, presentations, and transformative research initiatives.

During the pandemic, when the curriculum went online, Amgott delved into the challenges and opportunities presented by this shift in her graduate research. Her interdisciplinary work revolved around the iterative theory-practice loop, focusing on how higher education can redesign language curriculum to captivate students through multimodal and multiliteracies learning.

As the torchbearer for online language learning at CMU, Amgott has been instrumental in the development and growth of self-paced and instructor-led language courses through the Open Learning Initiative (OLI). In her role, she not only evaluates and enhances existing courses but also spearheads the creation of new online language programs. The establishment of the instructor-led online language program in 2022 marked a significant milestone, attracting a diverse cohort of adult learners who provided constructive feedback, exceeding Amgott's expectations.

Looking forward, Amgott is set to conduct a webinar for ACTFL in February 2024, "Harnessing Digital Multimodal Activities in Online Languages Courses." This platform will provide an opportunity to share insights from her research and guide educators on designing online language courses that promote student engagement.

Amgott's future projects include collaborating with Department of Modern Languages Ph.D. student Devon Renfroe on an AI-driven initiative to enhance pragmatic competence in language learning. Additionally, she is directing a new professional program launching in fall 2024 – an online certificate in language program administration, with curriculum design and program instruction by Uju Anya, associate professor of second language acquisition, and Mary Jane McCullough, lecturer of translation technologies and applied translation.

As Amgott envisions the future, she sees CMU as a hub for language learning innovation. Her goal is for individuals, whether adults or high school students, to look to CMU as the go-to destination for pursuing their language passions. With the Department of Modern Languages upcoming online certificate program and Amgott's unwavering commitment, the department is set to leave a mark on the map of language education.

"What we're doing in our department is so innovative," Amgott said. "I want to put our name more on the map. The goal is for language learners to look to us regarding where to go to pursue their language passion." 

With her innovative approach, commitment to student engagement, and now, the prestigious ACTFL Early Career Research Award, Amgott stands at the forefront of online language learning. As she leads CMU into the future of language education, Amgott is not just shaping curriculum; she's helping to shape the future of language learning.