French and Italian added to 4th Annual Language for Business Conference, one of the largest in the nation.

Two additional language tracks—French and Italian—made the 4th Annual K-12 Language for Business Conference even more representative of today’s international business world. These added languages, as well as Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese and Japanese, were featured in the conference hosted on January 14, 2012, by the Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER) at Florida International University (FIU).

“We have had a big demand from teachers for French and Italian to be included plus we have a mandate to add less commonly taught languages,” said Sonia Verdu, CIBER associate director. “Our language coordinator, Maida Watson, an FIU modern languages professor, reached out to her colleagues to make it happen.”

The annual conference instructs K-12 teachers and junior community college professors on the importance of incorporating business language into standard curricula. Attendees receive materials and practical lessons to use in their classrooms.

CIBER K-12 Group
K-12 teachers and junior community college professors attended the 4th Annual K-12 Language for Business Conference, hosted by FIU-CIBER.

“We had 115 total participants this year, making it one of the largest Language for Business Conferences in the United States,” said program manager Robert C. Rodriguez. “A 55 percent cut in our grant meant we were able to offer fewer travel grants but our attendance almost equaled last year.”

The keynote address, “How a Japanese Diplomat Learned Spanish,” by Yasushi Sato, consulate general of Japan in Miami, was followed with addresses by Melissa Baralt, who teaches Spanish at FIU, and by Mary Risner, University of Florida. In the afternoon, eighteen professors and instructors held concurrent sessions focusing on individual languages.

Teachers learn how to increase impact on students’ lives.  

Stephanie Salim, a Spanish teacher at Matignon High School in Cambridge, Massachusetts attended the conference for a second time.

“I was probably the first one to register,” she said. “FIU offers a different dimension than other language conferences. I learned excellent ways of integrating elements of the business world, to get my students interested in new career choices.”

CIBER_K-12 Sponsors
Co-sponsors were American Organization of Teachers of Portuguese; Center for Latin American Studies, University of Florida; CIBERs from San Diego State University, University of Colorado (Denver), University of Miami and University of South Carolina; FIU’s College of Business Administration, Department of Modern Languages, Latin American and Caribbean Center and Modern Language Graduate Student Organization (MLGSO); and Miami-Dade County public schools.

Verdu said the conference represents a commitment to teachers.

“Business language instruction should start early and training our teachers to develop more integrated curricula is imperative for K-12 education,” she said.


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