Alumna Receives ACTFL Award for World Language Teacher Education

Kristin Davin, a 2011 alumna of the PhD in Foreign Language Education program at the Pitt School of Education, has received the 2020 Anthony Papalia Award for Excellence in Teacher Education from the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL).

Given to one person annually, the national award recognizes Davin for the preparation and continuing education of foreign language teachers, as well as her impact on teacher education through active participation, leadership, and broader contributions to the field of world language education.

Davin is an associate professor of foreign language education at the University of North Carolina Charlotte (UNC Charlotte) Cato College of Education.

To achieve equity for future teachers from various regions, Davin supported the transition of the school’s foreign language education program to an online format, even before the COVID-19 pandemic that would ultimately lead other institutions to follow suit According to Davin,  80% of students in the program are students of color, with many hailing from Latin America. Davin also oversaw the addition of new language options in the program, such as American Sign Language and Arabic. The program also offers certification for teachers of Cherokee, a Native American language, a move that Davin believes is the first of its kind in the United States. The first certification of a teacher of Cherokee language will be certified through Davin’s program this year.

Davin’s research focuses on language policy. In particular, she has researched the impact of the “Seal of Biliteracy,” an award given to high school students in recognition of their proficiency in two or more languages by graduation. She published and presented extensively on the topic.

Davin explains that the Seal of Biliteracy “emerged as a way to challenge English-only ideologies and move away from deficit views of biliteracy.”

One of the goals of the policy, she says, is to change the public’s perception of individuals who speak languages other than English, recognizing multilingualism as an asset.

Before earning her PhD from Pitt Education, Davin taught kindergarten through fifth-grade Spanish at the Fanny Edel Falk Laboratory School. It was there that she first connected with Professor Richard Donato, who later became her PhD advisor.

“It was fortunate that I ended up with Dr. Donato as my advisor since he is a national leader in early foreign language education,” says Davin. “There were also a few other students in the program who had similar research interests as me and we just became this tight-knit group.”

Donato, who during his tenure has served as the dissertation advisor to many students, credits Davin for her deep interest in improving the teaching of foreign language education.

“Throughout her time in the program, it was clear that Kristin was committed to world language and culture education for all students and to a career in teacher education,” says Donato.

As faculty, Davin has taken students on study abroad experiences to Mexico City and Rome, and worked with international teachers who came to the U.S. from Brazil and Saudi Arabia. She has chaired special interest groups within ACTFL and worked with the Foreign Language Association of North Carolina.

Davin was honored at the ACTFL virtual awards ceremony on November 20, 2020.

Learn More:

Watch a video of Davin’s introduction and acceptance speech.