Professional Background

My formal explorations in using technology to support language learning began as a graduate student at the University of Michigan. At the time, I was beginning to see French and Spanish software titles in the stores, but little was changing in the schools. I pursued an independent study to more formally explore new technologies that could be used to improve foreign language learning and facilitate communication in the foreign language classroom. As part of this exploration, I examined several projects, including la Rencontre de Phillipe (MIT), Das Kino (PENN), and Project FLAME (Foreign Language Applications in the Multimedia Environment) at the University of Michigan. I joined FLAME part-time and, after finishing my MA in Education, worked there until I accepted my present position as a middle school language teacher and computer consultant for Grosse Pointe Public Schools. I completed an MA in Educational Technology at the University of Michigan in August of 1999.

My work at FLAME began with creating technical documentation and teacher support materials. Further on, I worked on the software development team and worked with teachers in the pilot schools to develop strategies for using FLAME programs to support their curriculum. For me, this was an excellent beginning. It afforded me the opportunity to see a working example of a new paradigm for using technology in the foreign language classroom, and to develop an appreciation for the day to day, nuts and bolts elements that are needed to make new technologies available and accessible in a realistic way to teachers in the schools. Exploring new ways of thinking about technologies and then making those tools available to working teachers continues to be a primary concern for me today.

I teach French and Spanish to 6th, 7th and 8th grade students at Brownell Middle School. As a teacher, I try to combine traditional media (audio, video, text) with newer technologies (multimedia software, multimedia development tools, Internet resources) to enable my students to improve their communication skills in French and Spanish. As a consultant I have developed and implemented teacher training workshops on a variety of computer applications and strategies across the curriculum. I also facilitated in-service workshops targeted specifically to a language learning environment, including sessions on evaluating software, authoring multimedia, using the Internet and technology-supported writing. 

I enjoy consulting because it allows me to share my experience with other teachers and to benefit from the wisdom of diverse groups of classroom educators. Together, we contribute to an emerging body of instructional tools and implementation strategies which inform the daily life of language classrooms.


Conference Sessions
Contact Information

Joanna Porvin (2009)