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Megan Taylor

Last modified: Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Clancy Clements works to make language "real" for his students

Joseph Clancy Clements

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Joseph Clancy Clements, associate professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese and adjunct associate professor in the Department of Linguistics at Indiana University Bloomington, is one of 18 faculty from IU campuses across the state to receive the 2004 Faculty Colloquium on Excellence in Teaching award.

Clements, who joined the university in 1985, said he was surprised to receive the FACET award. He joins 422 other distinguished IU faculty who have won the award since its inception 15 years ago. He said his teaching career got off to an admittedly slow start, which, over the years, has motivated him to make language "real" and to connect with students.

"I try to get people to think about their language," he said. "How does it work? Why does it work the way it does? What is universal about it? What does it say about us as a culture, as a biological species? It's sort of like a PR campaign, you have to sell it."

Clements noted that around 95 percent of the world's languages are oral. All languages have grammars, of course, but the grammars are most often not documented. In his research on pidgin and creole languages, he has learned and written grammars of two creole languages in India. Apart from pidgin and creole linguistics, his research interests include contact linguistics, sociology and history of language, morphosyntax from functional, cognitive and typological perspectives, naturalistic language learning and teaching linguistic analysis.

Clements also is director of undergraduate studies in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese and director of the Hispanic Linguistics Program.

FACET awards are presented to IU faculty members who have demonstrated an exceptional commitment to teaching and learning through areas of self-evaluation, course preparation, research, instructional skills and student impact. The new FACET members, along with the 2004 recipient of the P.A. Mack Award for Distinguished Service to Teaching, will be honored before a group of university administrators, trustees, FACET alumni and special guests at the 16th annual FACET Retreat, which will take place from May 21 through May 23 at Fourwinds Resort and Marina on Lake Monroe in Bloomington.

FACET, an IU presidential initiative, is designed both to recognize and enhance outstanding teaching throughout the IU system and to promote continued development of teaching excellence among colleagues at IU and beyond. In recent years, FACET's efforts have expanded both at the campus level and statewide. FACET activities planned for 2004 include the Leadership Institute, Associate Faculty Conference, Future Faculty Teaching Fellows Conference in partnership with the Office of the Vice President for Research, and further efforts to establish the Mack Center at Indiana University for Inquiry on Teaching and Learning.

FACET members have also created popular publications, including Quick Hits, More Quick Hits and Quick Hits for New Faculty: Successful Strategies by Award-Winning Teachers as well as a Peer Review of Teaching CD-ROM, which is in production, and the FACET Choir Video: What's a Teacher For? The Nurturing No-Nonsense Classroom, which is available from Films for the Humanities and Sciences.

FACET Directors Sharon Hamilton and Robert Orr encapsulate FACET's mission by stating, "FACET is a community of faculty, dedicated to and recognized for excellence in college teaching and learning. It is a dynamic and vital statewide community of distinguished faculty at Indiana University."

For more information about FACET, contact Megan Taylor, FACET Coordinator, at 317-274-0086 or or More information also can be found at