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Language Resource Center

Events of 2014-2015

This year's events are co-sponsored by the Einaudi Center for International Studies, the Institute for European Studies, the East Asia Program, the South Asia Program, the Southeast Asia Program and the Departments of Romance Studies, Near Eastern Studies, German Studies and Asian Studies.

April 9
Thursday, April 9, 2015

Collegiate Foreign Language Teacher Development:
Challenges and Strategies to Meet the MLA's Call for Change

Heather Willis Allen
Associate Professor of French University of Wisconsin-Madison

Thursday, April 9, 3:30pm followed by reception
Noyes Lodge

The 2007 MLA Report called for the elimination of the often-criticized language vs. content structure of collegiate foreign language (FL) programs in favor of "a broader and more coherent curriculum in which language, culture, and literature are taught as a continuous whole" (p. 3). The Report further proposed that these reforms be accomplished through development of students' translingual and transcultural competence and increased emphasis on cultural narratives present in FL texts such as poetry, prose, film, and journalism. This final recommendation is a particular challenge in lower-division courses given that they are typically anchored in commercial instructional materials focused more on lexico-grammatical competence and oral transactional interaction than on text-driven learning. In addition, graduate teaching assistants (TAs) are often responsible for staffing lower-division course, and professional development opportunities are often insufficient in scope and content to equip TAs for carrying out instruction consistent with the aims of the MLA Report.
This presentation will include discussion of challenges and strategies in meeting the 2007 MLA Report's call for change in lower-division FL courses and, in particular, in relation to TA professional development. A pedagogy of multiliteracies (Cope & Kalantzis, 2009; Kern, 2000) is posited as a framework for anchoring TA professional development and several concepts from Vygotskian cultural-historical psychology (e.g., everyday and scientific concepts, appropriation, dialogic mediation, assisted performance) are foregrounded as key elements of professional development activities. Examples will be shared from an ongoing empirical study of TA conceptual and professional development.
April 14
Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Interactional Practices and Actions Comprising L2 Teaching

Joan Kelly Hall
Professor of Applied Linguistics Penn State University

Tuesday, April 14, 4pm followed by reception
Noyes Lodge

This presentation focuses on current research that draws on the micro-analytic power of conversation analysis to examine the multimodal practices and actions by which L2 teaching and learning are accomplished. We will take a close look at findings on two practices. The first is teacher self-talk, a practice that maintains student engagement in instruction and at the same time creates opportunities for empathetic relationships to develop between teachers and students. The second practice helps preserve L2 teachers' epistemic status as expert language knowers when their status is challenged by student questions about grammar. The findings allow us to see what really happens in L2 classrooms and thus provide us with "instructive descriptions of our worlds that rewrite how we see" (Macbeth, 2013). The presentation will conclude with a discussion of the implications of such insights for L2 teaching and teacher preparation programs.
April 18
Saturday, April 18, 2015

Sponsored by the Department of Romance Studies

Motivation, Aptitude, and Error Correction: Best Research Insights for Language Teaching

Lourdes Ortega
Professor of Applied Linguistics Georgetown University

Saturday, April 18, 9am to 12pm
Noyes Lodge

Language teachers often feel unsure of the value of research, wondering if studies are relevant and realistic enough to give them insights that can inform and improve their daily practice. In the field of second language acquisition, researchers also seem to feel unsure of the value for language teachers of what they do, and many have advised extreme caution when applying to language classrooms the research knowledge they generate. My own professional position as a present researcher and a former language teacher is that research has sometimes, but not always, been meaningful enough to be supportive of teachers' professional praxis. In this workshop, I will offer my view of what best insights for practice the research had generated, in the three different areas of motivation, aptitude, and error correction. In motivation research, exciting recent research findings have an easy and natural relevance for language teaching praxis. In the area of aptitude, a large amount of contextualization and critical professional translation is needed, but possible, before the research can be of use in actual local classroom contexts. With respect to research on error correction, surprisingly, the potential of relevance for teaching is greatest but remains largely unfulfilled, in my view due to shortcomings of the way the questions have been approached so far. My goal with the workshop is to nurture critical but hopeful understandings about the interfaces between research and teaching.
May 8
Friday, May 8, 2015

LRC Workshop

Friday, May 8, 9-12 followed by lunch
Noyes Lodge