Eleanor Jorden, a linguist and world leader in language pedagogy and language teacher training, died Feb. 11 at her daughter's home in Connecticut. She was born in 1920.
During her 19 years at Cornell, the professor emerita of modern languages established the university as one of the world's leading institutions for the study of the Japanese language. In 1972 she founded the Full-year Asian Language Concentration (FALCON) program, now in its 37th year. Unlike other programs of the time, FALCON consisted of a full year of intensive language instruction and achieved levels of fluency rarely seen in foreign learners of Japanese.
Jorden came to Cornell in 1969 as a visiting professor of linguistics. She was granted tenure in 1972 and was appointed to the Mary Donlon Algers Chair of Linguistics.
At Cornell Jorden co-wrote two seminal textbooks. "Reading Japanese" was the first in the field to attempt to enable students to read Japanese rather than simply decode it into English. "Japanese: the Spoken Language" represented a new approach to language teaching, rooting the language in its social context and cultural framework, while guiding students toward mastery of appropriate social interaction and grammar.
Jorden left Cornell in 1988 to work at the National Foreign Language Center in Washington, D.C., where she co-wrote the study "Japanese Language Instruction in the United States," which influenced government policy to support the training of Japanese language teachers. Her efforts helped to ensure that the many new programs in Japanese sprouting up across America would be staffed by trained professionals.
Prior to Cornell, Jorden worked at the U.S. Department of State's Foreign Service Institute, where she had become a world leader in language teaching with the publication of the landmark textbook "Beginning Japanese." She also founded and directed the service's language school in Japan and served as dean of the service's Asian language school in Washington, D.C.