Lee University Professor of French James Wilkins will travel to Mauritania, West Africa to work for the Peace Corps to conduct a workshop to train language teachers how to assess the linguistic ability of volunteers.
Mr. Wilkins began work as an oral proficiency interview tester and trainer in French for the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages in New York. In this capacity, Mr. Wilkins was put in contact with the Peace Corps who employ many local language teachers in most of the countries where they function. Volunteers must learn one or more language prior to being allowed to go to their sites to work. Mr. Wilkins now conducts five-day workshops, training these language teachers, how to assess the linguistic ability of the Peace Corps volunteers to determine whether they are ready or not to go to site.
The U.S. government has mandated certain levels of oral proficiency that must be met prior to being released to site. Most of the workshops Mr. Wilkins leads are in French-speaking countries in Africa.
"Doing these workshops for the PC language trainers is a very fulfilling experience," said Mr. Wilkins. "I get to meet foreign language teachers in other parts of the world and share with them a tool that not only facilitates assessment of their students, but that motivates us to teach with functional proficiency in mind. I've also had the honor of meeting some of the volunteers who work in a variety of villages, perform a variety of duties, and who have taken time out of life to give something to others. The whole scenario is invigorating at multiple levels. I hope I'll continue to be involved for years to come."