E-Net News

Visiting scholar explores second language learning

Giuli Shabashvili has been on campus since December and shared her work in a session co-led by Associate Professor Jessie Moore.

Giuli Shabashvili (left) and Jessie Moore

By Caitlin O’Donnell ‘13

A group of Elon University faculty and staff discussed the strengths and challenges of second language education both in the United States and abroad in a March 6 session led by Giuli Shabashvili, a visiting international scholar, and Associate Professor Jessie Moore in Elon University's Department of English.

Shabashvili, a professor at Tbilisi State University in Georgia, arrived on campus in December through a special program for young Georgian researchers by the Shota Rustaveli National Science Foundation of Georgia. During her three-month visit, she met with students and other professors, presented aspects of her research and worked with Moore to prepare Tuesday’s presentation.

“It’s been a very interesting and useful period,” Shabashvili said. “It was an important challenge for my research.”

Much of that research involves the recent implementation of educational programs and legislative reforms to enhance second language education in Georgia, creating what the pair of researchers characterized as “culturally-diverse, social integration.”

With a 16.2 percent minority population, Shabashvili said the changes now better protect and integrate the smaller ethnic groups in Georgia.

“The work she’s doing is so important to go back and facilitate this learning among the groups that are so highly motivated because they want to learn Georgian and be more integral to society,” said Professor Glenda Crawford, who leads the Teaching Fellows program in the School of Education. “There’s tolerance there and high motivation among the folks she’ll be teaching.”

Comparatively, Moore characterized the United State’s second language education as significant, but relatively limited in mainstream education practices by movements such as “English for the Children,” lack of faculty expertise and differing structures for funding, class structure and preparation times.

Particularly at Elon, the responsibility to incorporate instruction for students learning English as a second language falls to faculty, without a coordinated effort by the university to address it.

Shabashvili and Moore will address how to better incorporate second language learners in the classroom in a workshop from 3-4:30 p.m. Friday, March 9, in KOBC 300.

“To hear about the comparative issues and see similarities and differences in approaches to teaching second languages has been very interesting,” Crawford said. “It’s also been wonderful to have her talk about Georgia in general and the rich culture and heritage.”

Shabashvili’s presentation fell in line with Elon’s strategic plan, Crawford said, by providing the perspective of an educator and researcher from another country.

“I think any time we have an international research scholar, it just broadens our way of thinking,” said Crawford, who originally met Shabashvili at a seminar at Tbsili last year. “It’s good exposure for our faculty and students.”

Shabashvili's visit was jointly sponsored by Moore and her faculty colleagues Jean Rattigan-Rohr, April Post and Ketevan Kupatadze.

Eric Townsend,
3/7/2012 3:09 PM