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This grant is intended to foster interdisciplinary research conducted by undergraduate students. The research should involve two or more students collaborating on a research project that combines the study of German language, literature, and culture with research in at least one other field in the humanities, social or natural sciences. Proposals for projects that include a creative element as either an integral part of the project or with regard to its outcome are especially welcome. 2015 Award amount: $1500.00.
2015 Award Winners: Eva-Christine Hall (German & Communication Sciences) and Allyson Reyer (Communication Sciences). Project: "Strategies for Facilitating Language Acquisition in German-English Bilingual Children". The project and introduction were presented at the 2015 Graduation and Awards Ceremony.
"Throughout the spring of 2015, undergraduate students Eva-Christine Hall and Allyson Reyer conducted a study titled "Strategies for Facilitating Language Acquisition in German-English Bilingual Children." Eva-Christine and Allyson are studying to become speech-language pathologist, and they both are especially interested in language acquisition in bilingual children. For this study, the researchers were interested in identifying factors in a child's language exposure and instruction that would facilitate the mastery of two languages.
Eva-Christine and Allyson collected data from three sources. They sent an online survey to German-English bilingual college students across the country, asking questions about their language exposure at home and at school, as well if they have any difficulties using German in college courses. Second, they interviewed several German-English bilingual college students for more anecdotes about their language development and difficulties. Third, the researchers visited eight German immersion schools in Atlanta and New York City to observe each unique teaching environment and interview experts in the field of bilingual language development.
Based on their data, the researchers concluded that consistency and cultural immersion were two key factors for a child to successfully master both German and English. Consistency was seen through the parents' and teachers' clear and unwavering expectations for language usage. Cultural immersion was important to create an environment that matched the German language. The immersion schools that mirrored German school-life generally produced the most proficient German speakers, and these students were highly motivated to use the language because they valued and identified with German culture."