Dr. Wendy Allen
Let me tell you a bit about myself. I grew up in northern Vermont, close to the Quebec border, where I first came into contact with French language and culture. In particular, I found myself serving as cultural and linguistic intermediary between local shopkeepers and our Quebec visitors. Little did I know at the time that this would be my life-long vocation. I pursued an undergraduate major in French at (then) Connecticut College for Women, followed by a year's study in Montpellier, France, on a Fulbright fellowship. Returning to the US, I took up graduate study in French at Indiana University-Bloomington, doing a thesis on the 17th century French Jesuit preacher, historian, poet Pierre LeMoyne. I have spent my entire teaching career at St Olaf College, beginning in 1977 with a part-time appointment, moving gradually into a full-time appointment, a multi-year standard appointment, and finally a tenure-track appointment. My early years at St. Olaf were devoted to teaching 1st and 2nd year language courses (still "my first love," by the way), with a gradual move into courses in civilization and in contemporary French culture and society. In the early 1990s, I devoted large amounts of my time to the development and implementation of Language Across the Curriculum (LAC) programs at St Olaf and at some twenty to thirty institutions across the country. This work in LAC, combined with a long-standing interest in language teaching, on the one hand, and in culture/civilization, on the other, led me into the textbook writing field; and in 1995, I and a co-author published the first elementary-language textbook organized around culture. While the text was far from perfect, its publication represented a high point in my professional career, because it allowed me to bring together in a single piece of work the three primary professional strands I had been pursuing for some twenty years. For the past ten years, thanks to the Center for Research and Applied Language Acquisition at the University of Minnesota, I have had the opportunity to focus my research and scholarly activity on the field of intercultural education. It is this work that has led to my efforts to make culture the core of the language curriculum.
So, to summarize, I am a person who loves people and who thrives on working with people, a person who sees herself first and foremost as a teacher and as a lifelong learner.