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Ramapo College of New Jersey Professor Elected by American Council of the Teaching of Foreign Language (ACTFL) to Leadership of New Special Interest Group

(PDF) (DOC) (JPG)February 8, 2023

Professor Santamaría Laorden with Ramapo College students in Basque Country

Professor Santamaría Laorden with Ramapo College students in Basque Country

Professor Natalia Santamaría Laorden to Lead Prestigious Special Interest Group on the Issue of Language and Profession

MAHWAH. NJ – Ramapo Professor Natalia Santamaría Laorden was recently elected to lead a pioneering national initiative that encourages the contextual teaching of language. Newly formed by the ACTFL, The Languages of Specific Purposes (LSP) Special Interest Group is the first of its kind to further the issue of language and profession through the ACTFL network of professionals and in classrooms across the country. Santamaría Laorden will serve as the LSP group’s chair throughout its first full year.

“The formation of the Language of Specific Purpose Special Interest Group at ACTFL is an optimistic sign of a broader cultural shift towards an interdisciplinary approach,” said Professor Santamaría Laorden. “Whether it is health equity, climate change, sustainability, or accountability, I firmly believe that the way we teach world languages can humanize interactions and better outcomes across industries.”

Reflective of growing student interest and real-world needs, the LSP Special Interest Group’s primary focus will be on cultural humility within language learning. Aligned with a broader focus on an interdisciplinary approach, the network of educators, professionals, and industry experts will define best practices and shared goals for educating towards the socio-dynamic context of language. Of all the ACTFL’s Special Interest Groups, the Languages for Specific Purposes group is the only one dedicated to providing students with real-world, transferable skills for the contemporary workplace. The principles defined and discussed in the group will lay the foundation for how colleges and universities approach language learning across the country.

“I am thrilled to serve in this position and extend the interdisciplinary work we already practice at Ramapo to the whole country,” added Santamaría Laorden. “We are currently expanding the Spanish program at the College through potential certification by the Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters. This will allow us to join efforts with county colleges to strengthen the mission of educating well-rounded foreign language teachers.”

A pioneer in the issue of language and profession, Natalia Santamaría Laorden introduced the concept to Ramapo College with a Certificate Program on Spanish and Healthcare backed by a US DOE UISFL grant. Resonating with the student body and administration, the certificate program led to the creation of three popular new courses and an 80 percent increase in enrollment for its Spanish minor curriculum. The program also led to a successful new study-abroad opportunity in Bilbao, dedicated to immersing students in the Basque healthcare system.

In 2022, Santamaría Laorden co-authored the textbook, Spanish for Health Care and Human Services: An Interdisciplinary Approach (Cognella, 2021). Currently, 200 desk copies have been distributed in the United States, and 12 universities, and the University of Colorado-Boulder, Northeastern University, University of North Florida, and University of Cincinnati have already adopted it.

According to Santamaría Laorden, the group, its work, and her efforts at Ramapo will have a significant tie-in to desires at the federal level about enhancing language education as a way to increase global competitiveness. “My work with colleagues at the ACTFL will contribute directly towards addressing recent concerns by US Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona about the needs to promote bilingualism as a gift and to educate professionals to compete abroad. In such a diverse country and world, the work will foster a better understanding by the education and business industries of the connection between world languages fluency and success. “

Providing vision, leadership and support for quality teaching and learning of languages, the ACTFL is an individual membership organization for language educators and administrators from elementary through graduate education, as well as government and industry. Since its founding in 1967, ACTFL has become synonymous with innovation, quality, and reliability in meeting the changing needs of language educators and their learners. It is where the world’s educators, businesses, and government agencies go to advance the practice of language learning.

To learn more about Natalia Santamaría Laorden, click here.


About Ramapo College

Ramapo College of New Jersey is the state’s premier public liberal arts college and is committed to academic excellence through interdisciplinary and experiential learning, and international and intercultural understanding. The comprehensive college is situated among the beautiful Ramapo Mountains, is within commuting distance to New York City, was named one of the 50 Most Beautiful College Campuses in America by CondeNast Traveler, and boasts the best on-campus housing in New Jersey per Established in 1969, Ramapo College offers bachelor’s degrees in the arts, business, data science, humanities, social sciences and the sciences, as well as in professional studies, which include business, education, nursing and social work. In addition, the College offers courses leading to teacher certification at the elementary and secondary levels, and offers graduate programs leading to master’s degrees in Accounting, Applied Mathematics, Business Administration, Contemporary Instructional Design, Computer Science, Creative Music Technology, Data Science, Educational Leadership, Nursing, Social Work and Special Education, as well as a Doctor of Nursing Practice.


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