Elizabeth Bernhardt honored for her work in foreign language education

ELIZABETH BERNHARDT, a professor of German studies and the John Roberts Hale Director of the Stanford Language Center, has received the 2018 Wilga Rivers Award from the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages.

Elizabeth Bernhardt
German Professor Elizabeth Bernhardt. (Image courtesy of Elizabeth Bernhardt)

“Bernhardt’s work at Stanford has been visionary,” according to the award announcement. “Building the Stanford Language Center into an exemplar of excellence in language learning and teaching, Bernhardt has had a direct impact on thousands of students at Stanford and beyond.”

Bernhardt, who has been at Stanford since 1995, has spoken and written on second-language reading, teacher education, and policy and planning for foreign- and second-language programs. She teaches undergraduate culture courses on the German Resistance and offers graduate seminars on second-language learning and teaching and on second-language literature learning.

The Wilga Rivers Award recognizes leadership excellence in post-secondary foreign language education and is presented annually by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, which is the national association for language education professionals from all levels of instruction and representing all languages.

The prize honors the memory of internationally renowned scholar and author Wilga Rivers, who was one of the first women to be appointed to a full professorship at Harvard University.

“This is the highest award one can get in the post-secondary foreign language arena,” Bernhardt said. “Wilga Rivers was essentially the first person to write, research and publish on foreign language instruction in the United States. So I’m very honored to receive this award.”

Bernhardt is known for her 1991 book, Reading Development in a Second Language: Theoretical, Empirical and Classroom Perspectives, which received accolades for its contribution to literacy research. Her latest book, Understanding Advanced Second-Language Reading, explains the theory and research on adult second-language reading.

Bernhardt is also the recipient of the 2014 Distinguished Service to the Profession Award from the Association of Departments of Foreign Languages. She was elected as an honorary member into the American Association of Teachers of German in 2015.