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Townhall and Symposium Events April 8-9 to Promote World Language Education in Arkansas

Keynote speakers Sam Eisen, left, and Kim Potowski.

Keynote speakers Sam Eisen, left, and Kim Potowski.

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Keynote speakers Sam Eisen, left, and Kim Potowski.

The U of A’s Department of World Languages, Literatures and Cultures will host a two-day series of events promoting world language education in Arkansas, including: ​

  • A townhall meeting and reception focused on “Mapping the Future of Language Teaching in Arkansas” from 5:30-7:30 p.m., Friday, April 8, at the Inn at Carnall Hall, and 
  • The Spanish and World Language Teaching Symposium will be from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday, April 9, at the Donald W. Reynolds Center. 

To register for or request more information about either event, visit or contact

Townhall Meeting April 8

During Friday’s townhall, keynote speaker Sam Eisen, director of programs of the National Security Education Program of the U.S. Department of Defense, will present on “World Languages for National Security and Global Competitiveness: Needs, Opportunities, Careers.” 

In his presentation, Eisen will address the language gaps in the national security sector, some of the economic needs identified in some of the state’s roadmap projects and showcase the grant and scholarship programs as well as careers for the NSEP alumni. 

The townhall keynote presentation will be preceded by a performance of Latin American music by U of A professors Lía Uribe, Miroslava Panayotova, Matt Brusca and Fernando Valencia. 

The townhall meeting is also part of a forthcoming Spanish Landscape Report on Spanish in Arkansas, addressing the following questions:

  • What is the state of world languages education in Arkansas?
  • How far are we from meeting national standards, and how do we compare to our surrounding states?
  • What are the challenges and opportunities in world language education in our state?  

The Spanish Landscape Report will be a policy guiding document that will assess the state of Spanish Pre-K-16 education in Arkansas and make key recommendations to further world language education in our state. The report is scheduled to be released in the fall of 2022. 

Symposium April 9

During Saturday’s Spanish and World Language Teaching Symposium, keynote speaker Kim Potowski, professor at the University of Illinois, Chicago, will present “Apples and oranges: Best approaches in working with Spanish heritage speakers.” Heritage speakers are increasingly common in Spanish classrooms around the U.S., and Potowski will discuss how they differ in important ways from beginning second language students. Teachers of both kinds of students are invited to learn more about this important aspect of the profession.

Questions explored will include:  

  • What are some typical profiles of heritage speakers (“apples”) and how are they linguistically and affectively different from second language students (“oranges”)? 
  • How can we determine appropriate curricular goals, instructional approaches, and placement procedures to best serve heritage speakers?
  • And what can instructors do when a separate heritage speaker course is not possible, resulting in a classroom with a mix of “apples” and “oranges”? 

The Spanish and World Languages Teaching Symposium is a collaborative effort of the Department of World Languages, Literatures and Cultures of the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, and the World Language Department of the University of Arkansas Fort Smith. 

The primary goal of the symposium is to provide an opportunity for Spanish and other world language instructors at the elementary, secondary and university levels to come together to share ideas, best practices and cutting-edge research on teaching languages, literatures and cultures. 

“Since Arkansas is home to global corporations and vibrant multilingual immigrant communities, world language education is highly relevant in Arkansas today, providing students with an education that will allow them to build more just and inclusive communities and be effective and ethical global citizens and world leaders,” said Luis Fernando Restrepo, University Professor and one of the townhall and symposium organizers. 

Restrepo said that both the Spanish Landscape Report and the Spanish and World Languages Symposium are part of the grant “Arkansas Participation in a 500 Million Person Community. Building Capacity for Innovation in Spanish Teaching State Wide,” a two-prong project funded by the U of A Chancellor’s Humanities Grant and co-sponsored by the Department of World Languages, Literature and Cultures; the department’s Spanish program; the Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies program; the Latin American and Latino Studies program; the Diane D. Blair Center for Southern Politics and Society; and Vista Higher Learning.

The project is led by professors Restrepo, Brenda Magnetti, Raquel Castro Salas, Elkin Pérez, and doctoral student Chloe Spellman, with support from professor Rebecca Foote, Betina Arellano and Clinton School of Public Service intern Farrah Beck. 

For registration or more information, visit or contact

Friday’s presentation by Eisen can also be accessed via Zoom.

Saturday’s presentation by Potowski can also be accessed via Zoom.