Teaching represents the most immediate and rewarding venue of combining Christina Frei’s research projects, application of technology and language education. She received the 2010 SAS Dean's Award for Distinguished Teaching by Affiliated Faculty describing her dynamic classroom presence as mesmerizing. "The intensity of her presence and strategic appeal of her pedagogy engulf the students in a world of German language and culture, in which they feel fortified and challenged."
Most recently, Frei was promoted to Executive Director of Language Instruction for the School of Arts & Sciences. The newly established position of Executive Director of Language Instruction recognizes her deep commitment to the university and the language education community across SAS, Wharton, LPS, The Graduate School of Education and the School of Engineering and Applied Science. She is also a member of the Online Learning Faculty Advisory Committee.
Frei currently is co-authoring an innovative online textbook for introductory German language and culture: Augenblicke.
Since 2009, Frei chairs the Penn Language Center, home of many less commonly taught languages at Penn. In her role as educational leader she secured several grants: STARTALK and Fulbright. With the support of the Department of Education and the Institute for International Education (IIE), Frei conceptualizes and directs the summer leadership institute and the Fulbright pre-semester orientation for foreign language teaching assistants.
Frei designed and implemented the curriculum of the language program at the Freie Universität Berlin international Summer and Winter University (FUBiS), the department's summer study-abroad venue.
In addition, Frei regularly offers courses in Second Language Acquisition (GRMN 516), Teaching and Learning with Technology (GRMN 517), and directs all courses in the two-year language program. She received her Ph.D. from the University of California at Davis with a Special Emphasis in Second Language Acquisition. She specializes in new approaches to the teaching of German and diverse applications of technology in the foreign-language classroom and has co-written “Co-Constructing Learning: The Dynamic Nature of Foreign Language Pedagogy in a CMC Environment”. In this article, she and her colleagues develop the concept of spiraled interaction.
“Recent innovations in technology allow foreign language learners and their instructors to interact both inside and beyond the classroom using a variety of communicative tools. As a consequence the classroom has been transformed into an extended learning environment which has had a profound effect on both student and teacher roles. In an on-going collaborative research project, we seek to gain greater insights into the benefits of specific computer-mediated communication (CMC) activities and to examine the relationship between in-class, online, and out-of-class learning. In this article, we propose a concept of spiraled interaction—the dynamic interplay of in-class activities that in part focus on meaning and focus on form and online collaborations that have as their primary goal student-constructed representations of knowledge.”
Current projects also include the expansion of the Homo.Cyber site: http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/german/homocyber/ and research in the development of students' discourse competence within online language course models. See her article here: http://www.upenn.edu/almanac/v50/n22/teaching.html