CeLCAR’s Bi-Annual Newsletter "The Steppe" | Issue 03 | Fall 2014

Center for Languages of the Central Asian Region

School of Global & International Studies College of Arts & Sciences

The mountains of Central Asia.
New LRC Grant Awarded

On September 27, 2014, the US Department of Education gave us official notice that our Title VI Language Resource Center (LRC) grant proposal, headed by Prof. Öner Özçelik, was accepted as a winner and that our center is funded for another four years, keeping its National Language Resource Center title.

This makes CeLCAR one of a total of sixteen LRCs nationwide to be funded in this grant cycle, including four new LRCs. The competition was especially tight this time, and we are certainly pleased by this announcement, as can be seen in the celebration in the following picture!

Celebration of grant proposal, 2014 Gedun Rabsal (Tibetan Developer), Tserenchunt Legden (Mongolian Developer), Gulnisa Nazarova (Uyghur Developer), Samat Mamitimin (Uyghur Developer), Kurban Niyaz (Uyghur Developer), Dave Baer (Assistant Director), Rahman Arman (Dari/Pashto Developer), Öner Özçelik (Director), Sukhrob Karimov (ICT Specialist), Froozan Safi (Accounting Representative)

The US Dept of Ed Title VI Program awarded $2,799,168 to these sixteen institutions of higher education, which serve to improve the nation's capacity to teach and learn foreign languages effectively through activities such as developing teaching materials for K-16 foreign language instruction; research and dissemination of effective language teaching methods, conducting intensive summer language institutes; and training in administering and interpreting language performance tests.

CeLCAR here at Indiana University received an award of $186,186.00 per year for the next four years. We will use these funds to continue preparing high quality language teaching materials - including textbooks, multimedia materials, smartphone apps, etc. - for Central Asian languages. In alphabetical order, the languages with which we proposed to have significant work on include Azerbaijani (Azeri), Dari, Kazakh, Kyrgyz (Kirghiz), Mongolian, Pashto, Tajiki, Tibetan, Turkmen, Uyghur (Uigur), and Uzbek, all of which are on the Priority Language list of the US Department of Education. We will also do significant research on the acquisition and teaching of Central Asian languages by English-speaking learners. We will also deepen outreach efforts for all Central Asian languages and cultures (even those that are rarely heard in the US, such as Buryat (Buriat), Chuvash, Shugni, Tatar, Sakha/Yakut, etc.), including efforts to bring Central Asian language instruction to several community colleges and minority serving institutions. Finally, we are also pleased to announce that we are already developing online courses for languages of the Central Asian region, and will intensify these efforts in this grant cycle.

Öner Özçelik, CeLCAR Director, would like specifically to thank the CeLCAR employees who have been a part of this successful grant application. We all spent a lot of time and energy to work on the proposal, and we are happy that it has been successful.

For more information, please see the Department of Education press release, “More than $63.3 Million Awarded to Colleges and Universities to Strengthen Global Competitiveness through International Studies and World Language Training”, published on Wednesday, October 8, 2014.

Conference on Central Asian Languages and Linguistics (ConCALL)

On May 16th and 17th, 2014, CeLCAR hosted the first ever Conference on Central Asian Languages and Linguistics (ConCALL) at Indiana University’s Memorial Union.

This first bi-annual ConCALL was established to bring together linguists and language educators specializing in the languages of the Central Asian (CA) region, including both the Altaic and Eastern Indo-European languages spoken in the region.

The theme of this year’s conference, “Building a Bond: Strengthening the Central Asian Language Community,” was chosen based on the goals to create a strong network of CA language experts and to provide a unique opportunity for researchers, pedagogists, and educators in the field to present their work to an audience of their peers in the same language field.

ConCALL, 2014 Attendies of the Conference discussing Movement and Direction in Pashto Grammar

ConCALL, 2014 Simin Karimi, Jaklin Kornfilt, Chris Beckwith

We feel pleased at the overall success of this first time conference. We had presenters and conference attendees coming from all over the globe, including not only the Central Eurasian region, including Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkey, and Uzbekistan, but also from Sweden, India, China, Japan, Malaysia, and Australia! Additionally, we had presenters from several American universities and institutions including Yale University, University of Kentucky, San Diego State University, University of Washington, University of Wisconsin, and the Defense Language Institute in Monterey.

ConCALL, 2014 Öner Özçelik, Jaklin Kornfilt, Jorge Hankamer

ConCALL, 2014 Jaklin Kornfilt giving a talk on Turkish Relative Clauses: How Exceptional are they from a Central Asian Turkic Perspective?

We also had four plenary speakers, all of whom are world leading linguists, with significant research on Central Asian languages: Jaklin Kornfilt from Syracuse University, Jorge Hankamer from University of California, Santa Cruz, Simin Karimi from University of Arizona, and Chris Beckwith from Indiana University. Speakers and presenters covered an assortment of research topics related to syntax, semantics, phonetics, phonology, pedagogy, and more!

But don’t take our word for it, see what some of the attendees had to say:

  • “The mixture of linguistics talks and pedagogical ones worked out very well. I hope that the following conferences will have the same mixture too.”
  • “It was great that there were so many papers on relatively neglected or highly endangered languages.”
  • “It would be good if we could have this kind of conference every year.”

ConCALL, 2014 Rahman Arman (Dari/Pashto Developer), Sukhrob Karimov (ICT Specialist), Amber Kent (Language Instructional Specialist), Rakhmon Inomhojayev (Senior Afghan Language Developer), Gulnisa Nazarova (Uyghur Developer), Öner Özçelik (Director), Froozan Safi (Accounting Representative), Tserenchunt Legden (Mongolian Developer), Dave Baer (Assistant Director)

And once again, CeLCAR would like to thank our main conference supporters: IU’s Ostrom Program Grant, IU’s College of Arts and Humanities Institute, the Inner Asian & Uralic National Resource Center, IU’s College of Arts and Sciences, IU’s Central Eurasian Studies Department, and IU’s Department of Linguistics.

Presentations Delivered
by Faculty and Staff at 

This section summarizes CeLCAR's presence at international academic conferences.

Öner Özçelik, Director of CeLCAR, has traveled extensively since the last issue of our newsletter.

In May 2014, he attended the Workshop on Altaic Formal Linguistics (WAFL10) at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) in Cambridge, Massachusetts. This includes Turkic, Mongolic, and Tungusic languages, as well as Korean and Japanese. Öner spoke on the topic of “ ‘Stress’ or ‘intonational prominence’? Word accent in Kazakh, Turkish, Uyghur and Uzbek”.

Öner Özçelik Presenting Öner Özçelik, Director of CeLCAR, at ConCALL 1

In June, Prof. Özçelik traveled to Brooklyn NY to deliver a joint presentation with U.S. Department of Education’s International and Foreign Language Education (IFLE) office in the “Language Matters” strand of the Global Learning Conference of Asia Society. His presentation was joint work with Michelle Guilfoil (Acting Senior Director of IFLE), Lenore Yaffee Garcia (Acting Director of the International Studies Division of IFLE) and Juliana Wijaya (IFLE grantee in Indonesian from UCLA), and was entitled, “Making language learning relevant and compelling.” IFLE provides institutional and fellowship grants funding to strengthen the capability and performance of American education in foreign languages and in area and international studies, including Title VI National Resource Center and Language Resource Center grants.

September saw Öner at the International Conference on Turkish Linguistics (ICTL) in Rouen, France. The ICTL has been held every two years since 1982 in locations around the world and is a leading platform where recent studies on the linguistics and teaching of Turkish and other Turkic languages are shared and discussed comprehensively. Many Turkic linguistics and language educators worldwide participate. Öner ‘s presentation was titled “Word stress in Turkic languages: the case of Kazakh, Uyghur and Uzbek.”

At the University of South Carolina in October, Öner attended the 33rd Annual Second Language Research Forum (SLRF), one of the major second language acquisition and teaching conferences in the world. It was held in Columbia, on the campus of University of South Carolina this year, and this year the theme was “Theory Meets Practice”. Öner presented a paper with Prof. Rex Sprouse, IU’s Second Language Studies, on vowel harmony and its acquisition by learners of Turkish.

In November, Öner traveled again to Boston, Massachusetts to attend the 39th Annual Boston University Conference on Language Development, or BUCLD, one of the leading conferences for scholars working on language acquisition in general (of both first and second languages). The theme this year was “From sounds to words to grammatical categories: The role of distributional learning”. Öner’s presentation was coauthored with Prof. Rex Sprouse of IU’s Department of Second Language Studies, and was on acquisition of vowel harmony in Turkish.

Farewell, Ostad Rahmon...

In June, we said goodbye to Dr. Rahmon Inomkhojayev, our Senior Specialist in Afghan Languages

Rahmon-aka retired and returned to his family in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. He has been at CeLCAR since 2005, and he was instrumental in laying the foundational groundwork for our introductory and intermediate language materials. His development work was always of high quality, so much so that, while here at CeLCAR, he was invited two times to language institutes in California to teach Pashto instructors how to teach certain important intricacies (such as specific verb forms or the ergative sentence structure) of the Afghan language so that American learners might understand the basic grammatical principles involved and begin to employ correct patterns as they practiced their Pashto.

As a final tribute at our farewell party, one CeLCAR employee shared his favorite memory of Rahmon-aka, a poem from his personal journal:

     I knocked on my friend’s office door;
          normally, he responds quickly with, “Come in!”, and
     I open the door.
     Sometimes, I’ll hear water running in the office
          bathroom as he makes ablution, and I know not
          to knock at the door for a few minutes after he
          returns to his office.
     But this day I was distracted and failed to notice that
          my knock at the door from without
     brought no invitation voiced from within.
     Out of habit, I called him by name, adding the
          customary honorific suffix, and opened the door.
     I found my elderly friend kneeling lowly on his
          prayer rug.
     It was such a holy moment.
     Suddenly, I was aware that I had missed the cues
          of the sounds at the sink.
     Having cleansed himself without
     as he focused on cleansing himself within,
     he was now talking with his Maker,
     expressing humility without
     as he voiced humility within.
     It was just like walking in on my parents at prayer,
          back when I was a child.
     After prayers were done, we embraced; I apologized
          for disturbing a sacred moment.
     “Oh, I don’t mind. I am just doing my duty,” he said.
     When I think of my favorite moments of prayer,
     I will always see in my mind and in my heart
     an elderly man from Uzbekistan,
     with shoes removed from off his feet,
     kneeling submissively on sacred ground in his office,
     visible to none but to Him who sees all.

     I shall be telling this with a sigh
     Somewhere ages and ages hence:
     Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
     I took the one less traveled by,
     And that has made all the difference.
          -Robert Frost (1874-1963), American Poet

Farewell, Ostad Rahmon. We will indeed miss you.

Pedagogy Point: This Issue’s Q&A
Q: Many SLA experts espouse the benefits of the language immersion method, and in theory, it sounds good. But I think it’s really only possible for commonly taught languages like French and Spanish. How are teachers of Less Commonly Taught Languages supposed to teach effectively entirely in the target language?
A: First, let’s define the language immersion method. Language immersion describes a method of teaching in which classroom instruction is given in the target language/second language (L2). But even within the language immersion world there are degrees of immersion. For example, a classroom that provides 100% of instruction in the L2 is referred to as complete immersion. A class taught approximately 50% in the L2, but also incorporating L1 as needed, is called partial immersion. Typically, complete immersion is found as part of a larger program, usually a school specifically designed for bilingual education. I don’t think many experts would expect complete immersion for a solitary language course independent of this kind of greater support.

However, most independent language courses can increase L2 talk time by aiming for the partial immersion level, and this is independent of whether the language being taught is French or Pashto. Instructors can increase their use of L2 by using body language, visual aids, and lots of rephrasing. (Youtube actually has quite a few instructional videos with hints on increasing L2 talk time. Try searching “language immersion techniques” and other similar phrases to get some ideas.) It is possible. I promise!

Increasing L2 talk time is especially important in LCTLs, because often the only place students have access to a language speaker (you!) is in the classroom. And research supports that the more learners are exposed to the L2 during instructional time the less they will rely on translation from L1, leading to overall improved linguistic and meta linguistic abilities.
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Mujib Mehrdad Shares His Poetry With Indiana University

In October, Mr. Mujib Mehrdad visited Indiana University-Bloomington and discussed and presented on his recently published work, a collection of poems in Dari and Persian from Afghanistan, called Soldiers or سربازها .

As an acclaimed poet, playwright, and translator from Afghanistan, he is currently a visiting scholar at the International Writers Program at the University of Iowa. Mujib is the author of the poetry collections Gladiators Are Still Dying (2007; winner of the Afghan Civil Society’s literature contest), The Fishes Have Fled Our Veins (2008), Audience (2009), and of the collection of essays, The Rain Passed. He has translated Ginsberg, Plath, Mayakovsky, Tagore, Langston Hughes, and others into the Dari language. He is a board member of the literary organization Kashane Nawesendagan (House of Authors) and teaches Persian literature at Albironi University in Kapisa Province, north of Kabul, Afghanistan. His participation in the University of Iowa’s International Writers Resident program has been made possible by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the US Department of State. See more about the poet or about the International Writers Program.

Mujib’s presentation is available on YouTube and was co-sponsored by the Center for Languages of the Central Asian Region (CeLCAR), the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures (NELC), the Center for the Study of the Middle East (CSME), the Inner Asian and Uralic National Resource Center (IAUNRC), the Department of Central Eurasian Studies (CEUS), and the Department of Comparative Literature, all part of the School of Global and International Studies and the College of Arts and Sciences at Indiana Univesity.

Mujib has also contributed several of his poems along with their audio recordings to our materials development efforts in Dari.

Here is one of Mujib’s poems:

     How a poet reaches calmness
     Your skin is as hot as hell
     And I am used to the heat of bullets
     A pair of shining eyes measure
     Widespread ruins in my homeland
     I haven’t been patient; I have been forced

     When bullets rain in every path
     When there are gunmen singing in the trees
     What is the difference between your Home
     And a cell in which the prisoner is raped

     With bleeding lips, I want to kiss your fingers
     Your God-chosen fingers
     for touching the wounds which their blood doesn’t stop
     and your dominant look, saves me while I am
          defeated by my homeland

     A poet reaches calmness
     by the smiles of comrades
     by a countryman’s occasional songs
     my comrades didn’t smile at all
     my countrymen cried
     when they had time

     how can we forget a poet
     the earth does not hide
     the blood stain of those who have laughed with me

     you are dependent on me
     like the blood which streams warmly on my skin
     you are close to me
     like the blood
     which lovingly touches me

Upcoming Events 

Summary of CeLCAR’s upcoming events and activities.

• 2014 ACTFL Annual Conference

CeLCAR will travel to San Antonio, Texas to attend ACTFL’s 2014 Annual Convention and World Language Expo, exhibit our materials, network with other LRCs and language professionals, and learn more about new research and teaching methods.

• 2014 GASLA Conference will be held at Indiana University

GASLA is one of the leading conferences on second language acquisition from a linguistics perspective and CeLCAR is proud to cosponsor GASLA 2014. To learn more about the conference visit their website.

ConCALL Proceedings

Over the last several months, CeLCAR has been collecting revised papers from the Spring ConCALL event. This Fall, the 1st Proceedings of the Conference on Central Asian Languages and Linguistics will be published online via IU’s Open Journal System, ScholarWorks. Additionally, the full .pdf will be made available for free download through the conference website. If you would like a hard copy version, they are available for $15 through CeLCAR’s Online Shop.

Additional Textbooks Published

Uyghur Alphabet App

Over a year ago, we made available to the general public three new titles from CeLCAR for beginning Uyghur, beginning Dari and intermediate Pashto. Georgetown University Press (GUP) published Uyghur: An Elementary Textbook in Fall 2013, and they have since committed to publish Dari: An Elementary Textbook and Pashto: An Intermediate Textbook.

Dari: An Elementary Textbook is the first in a series on this Afghan language. It provides learners with a wide selection of full-color materials and task-oriented, communicative activities designed for classroom use. People have also used it as a self-study guide. The focus is on enabling learners to participate successfully in simple, everyday situations that focus on developing the four language skills (speaking, listening, reading, and writing), without presuming any previous knowledge of Dari. The topics discussed in the book are of importance to people in academic, business, governmental or non-governmental organizations, with cultural notes and extra helps throughout. By the end of the course, the learner should perform at level of Novice High or Intermediate Low on the ACTFL scale (American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages) or at Level 1+ or 2 on the ILR scale (Interagency Language Roundtable).

Pashto: An Intermediate Textbook is the second in a series, after Pashto: An Introductory Textbook, which we published back in Fall 2011. It’s for learners who already have a high introductory level of speaking, listening, reading and writing Pashto. It is designed for the classroom use in a two-semester second-year course. The textbook provides plenty of exercises and tasks to help the learner to improve their language skills in order to be more comfortable communicating with native Pashto speakers on the topics included. It provides also a number of important cultural notes for learners to become more comfortable with many aspects of life in Afghanistan. Educational organizations may keep the entire order of the text and use all materials of the textbook as they are presented or may adapt the materials according to their needs, by more focusing on the topics of highest interest to their learners. The materials are designed to teach the standard Pashto used in official communications, the Media, and in the educational system of Afghanistan. By the end of the course, the learner are expected to perform all language skills (listening, reading, writing, speaking, structural accuracy) at a level of high intermediate or low advanced.

Again, you may purchase the Uyghur materials from GUP. The Dari textbook may be ordered now from GUP as well and they will be shipping soon. The Intermediate Pashto is available now directly from CeLCAR at our online shop and will be available from GUP in Fall 2015. Incidentally, a third book, Dari: An Intermediate Textbook is also currently available directly from CeLCAR, which will lead learners to perform all language skills (listening, reading, writing, speaking, structural accuracy) at a level of mid-intermediate to mid-advanced (or ILR scale of 2 or 3).

Oner Ozcelik

CeLCAR is pleased to announce that in the coming 2014-2018 grant cycle, we will be beginning three collaboration projects with community colleges and minority serving institutions.

The first collaboration project slated is with Norfolk State University (NSU), a historically black university in Norfolk, VA, to first develop a “30 Central Eurasian Languages in 30 days” survey course as part of their new Global Studies concentration in their Interdisciplinary Studies major. After this, we hope to continue our collaborations by offering online language courses in the less commonly taught languages of Central Asia. Read more about NSU’s Interdisciplinary Studies major here.

The second project is working with the Center for Military and Veteran’s Education (CMVE) at Tidewater Community College (TCC) in Virginia Beach, VA to deliver high quality language and culture training in Pastho and Dari to their school’s active duty military and non-government contractor populations. Read more about the CMVE at TCC here.

Finally, we will be working in collaboration with Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) in Springfield, VA to establish an Afghan Languages Heritage Learning Project to serve over 30,000 Afghan heritage learners in Northern Virginia. This will be our first project designed specifically for Heritage Learners, and we hope it will lead to more collaborations in the future! Read more about NOVA here.

Welcoming New Staff
New Staff

CeLCAR is exited to welcome new staff members aboard for our next cycle. IU’s recognized lecturers, Malik Hodjaev, Rabsal Gedun, and Tserenchunt Legden are joining CeLCAR initiative in developing online language courses for such languages as Uzbek, Tibetan, and Mongolian in addition to Dari. Over the next four years, be on the lookout for our new publications of Tibetan Elementary along with Mongolian Elementary and Intermediate textbooks.

Here is some information about our new faculty members:

Malik A. Hodjaev, Ph.D. Before coming to Bloomington to work at IU in August 2002, Malik Hodjaev, had experience of teaching English for 17 years. He was a Director of the Regional Language Center and a part time teacher of English in Samarkand, Uzbekistan for 6 years. He also founded Samarkand Regional Language Center (SamRLC) in 1996. By 1998 Malik Hodjaev opened 20 branches of the Center in the districts of Samarkand Region.

Gedun Rabsal In the current political circumstances, Tibetan literature and language is in grave danger of surviving. Rabsal Gedun’s life goal is to contribute to preserving and promoting the advancement and flourishing of Tibetan literature and language. With these concepts in mind, Rabsal have chosen to devote his career to teaching, writing, researching and translating so that Tibetan language can flourish in today’s world.

Tserenchunt Legden Tserenchunt Legden has been teaching Introductory, Intermediate, and Advanced Mongolian at IU since 2004 and Summer Intensive Mongolian since 2007. She also teaches a cultural course, Introduction to Mongolia and the Mongols, and has been teaching Distance Mongolian via video-conferencing since 2009. Tserenchunt has worked on many projects in Mongolian language learning that reach far beyond Indiana University. Perhaps most notably, she wrote a series of three volumes of Sain baina uu, Mongolian language textbooks for foreigners co-authored with Sharon Luethy, which are widely recognized for their innovative approach and practical value.

ACTFL 2014
ACTFL 2014

ACTFL’s 2014 Annual Convention and World Language Expo

The CeLCAR director, Dr. Öner Özçelik, along with Amber Kent will travel to San Antonio, Texas, to exhibit 
our materials, to network with other LRCs and language professionals, 
and to attend conference talks and workshops on new language research 
and teaching methods.

Informational Pamphlets
DLI Logo

If you have visited the Informational Materials page on CeLCAR’s website recently, you probably have noticed the addition of a few more informational pamphlets. In addition to the seven languages added in Fall 2013 (Balochi, Bashkir, Buryat, Chuvash, Kurmanji, Sorani, and Turkish) and the revised and expanded versions (with sample phrases) of our original ten (Azerbaijani, Dari, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Mongolian, Pashto, Tajiki, Turkmen, Uyghur, and Uzbek), you can now find free downloads of our full-color informational pamphlets (with sample phrases) on Armenian, Farsi, Georgian, Sakha/Yakut, Tatar, and Tibetan.

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Limestone relief
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Center for Languages of the Central Asian Region
1900 E 10th Street | Eigenmann Hall 710 | Bloomington, Indiana 47406