Upcoming workshop on Innovative Technology in the Language Classroom

December 7th, 2013 | Posted by Merica McNeil in culture | professional development | SLAT - (Comments Off on Upcoming workshop on Innovative Technology in the Language Classroom)

Next Saturday, December 14, a free workshop will be offered at The University of Arizona on Innovative Technology in the Language Classroom. It is open to faculty and instructors of all languages.

The University of Arizona is a new member of several Arabic Flagship programs in the U.S. which are designed to improve the way Americans learn languages using innovative approaches to promote advanced language education.

According to Dr. Sonia Shiri, who is the Academic Director for the Arizona Arabic Flagship Program as well as Assistant Professor and Middle East Language Coordinator at the University of Arizona, the purpose of the workshop is to share cutting edge work using technology and encourage sharing ideas with the whole campus.

For more information about this event on December 14, see details here: http://cercll.arizona.edu/development/workshops/arabic.flagship

Location: The University of Arizona in Tucson, Marshall Building Room 490

The event is free, but an RSVP is required by December 10th in order to attend. RSVP here.

Download the flyer for full details.

The workshop is organized for the University of Arizona’s Arabic Flagship program by the Flagship Program, CERCLL, the Graduate Interdisciplinary Program in Second Language Acquisition and Teaching, and the School of Middle East and North African Studies.

Announcing the 12th Annual SLAT Roundtable

February 25th, 2013 | Posted by jtparry in professional development | SLAT - (Comments Off on Announcing the 12th Annual SLAT Roundtable)

On March 1—2, The 12th Annual Second Language Acquisition and Teaching (SLAT) Roundtable will be held at the University of Arizona. This event will feature Dr. Julie A. Belz from Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) as the keynote speaker, who will deliver a presentation entitled “Re-conceptualizing Intercultural Communicative Competence in Foreign Language Education“. As the plenary speaker, Dr. Norma Mendoza-Denton of The University of Arizona will present “Voice Onset Timing, Social Networks, and Perceptual Dialectology in Tucson, Arizona“. This event will be a great opportunity to hear about a variety of topics related to language learning and teaching, from both faculty and graduate students. Click here to view a flyer about the event.

The Modern Languages Building of The University of Arizona, in the South Wing of the 3rd floor

Friday, March 1, 2013, from 5–6:45 PM
• Keynote Speaker (in Room 311)
• hors d’oeuvres

Saturday, March 2, 2013, from 8:30 AM–5:00 PM
• Plenary Speaker (in Room 304 from 1–1:50 PM)
• Presentations, Panels, and Workshops

If you plan on attending, please register here.

For questions or comments about the SLAT Roundtable, feel free to contact Mohammed Tamimi, the Second Language Acquisition and Teaching Student Association (SLATSA) president, or Linda Lemus, the SLATSA vice president. Click here to view their e-mail addresses in the attached flyer. You can also visit the SLAT Roundtable website here.

This roundtable is sponsored by The Center for Educational Resources in Culture, Language, and Literacy (CERCLL), The Second Language Acquisition and Teaching (SLAT) Program, and The Graduate and Professional Student Council (GPSC) of the University of Arizona.

A Smattering of Language will Do?

April 17th, 2012 | Posted by C Botelho in critique | culture | SLAT - (Comments Off on A Smattering of Language will Do?)

“I feel very strongly that the ideal shouldn’t be mastery of another language, because that’s an unachievable goal and holding it up as the aim just makes students feel hopeless… We should emphasise the pleasures of languages, rather than the need for complete competence.”

—Marina Warner, “English that’s good enough: The mastery of English is not the intimidating ideal any non-native should seek: a smattering will do.” The Guardian, March 13 2012.

Having attended the Multilingual, 2.0? symposium this past weekend at the University of Arizona, this was a question/topic that came up in several of the talks as it relates to education and language policy planning and ideology. In Deborah Cameron’s talk “The one, the many and the Other: representing mono/multilingualism in post 9/11 verbal hygiene,” one of the more challenging topics she brought was that of ‘standards.’ She argued that linguists don’t want to talk about norms or language standards when examining language policies but until they are willing to have a sensible discussion on “norms” in the establishment of language policy, then the linguists will always lose.

Excerpt from Deborah Cameron’s abstract from Multilingual, 2.0?

Full abstract [PDF]

I begin with one of the questions offered by the organizers of this symposium:  ‘If multilingualism is founded on an assumption that we are shifting away from a monolingual perspective, how sound is that assumption? Can one shift away from that which does not exist in the first place?’… However assiduously academics may seek to criticize or deconstruct them, ‘monolingualism’ and ‘multilingualism’ undoubtedly exist in the world as ideological constructs, and in my view their existence has material and significant consequences; but it is difficult to generalize about the way in which they are constructed or imagined for different languages, nation-states, historical periods and geographical/ social locations.  Representations of monolingualism/ multilingualism are also representations of particular languages (and people) in particular times and places: that inevitably shapes their form and the cultural work they do.

While I found myself generally agreeing with Ms. Warner’s piece and her overall push for not demanding “native speaker proficiency” as a rule for language learning, her discussion glossed over just how complicated this subject area is. The claim that “It is possible to speak another language fluently and yet make continual mistakes in it—mistakes of word order and phrasing, register and weight of terms used, and numerous other pitfalls” reveals that she is applying a popular notion of “fluency” meaning “native-like” or “near-native-like” ability and is not recognizing that a language speaker/learner can have varying levels of proficiency depending on the field (speaking, writing, listening and reading). ACTFL’s proficiency guidelines (for speaking, writing, listening, and reading) include Distinguished, Superior, Advanced, Intermediate, and Low, all of which have sub-categorizations.

I couldn’t agree more with her advocating “for multilingual households, for foreign-born mothers—and fathers—for the benefits of different tongues and their speakers, and for the cultures they originate in. I also see value in making the crossing from one language to another without fear or inhibition, and above all for not minding “making mistakes.” To say that “Languages matter, but smatterings will do,” however, ignores learners’ needs and requirements for successful communicative interaction. I would suggest rather than saying a smattering will do, it would be more helpful to work on an inclusive language policy that actually defines what a “smattering” of language is, for what areas of proficiency, for what group(s) of speakers, and being critical of who is making these determinations and for what purposes.


Warner’s The Guardian article

American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. National Standards for Foreign Language Education, Standards for Foreign Language Learning.

American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines 2012: Speaking, Writing, Listening and Reading. [PDF]

Plurilingual Teaching Across the Curriculum

April 17th, 2012 | Posted by C Botelho in critique | professional development | resources | SLAT - (Comments Off on Plurilingual Teaching Across the Curriculum)

For those teaching in a non-language discipline, is it possible to incorporate second language acquisition/pedagogy into the cirriculum?  According to Dr. Julian Hermida, the answer is “yes.”  Dr. Hermida argues that just as writing across the disciplines needed to be addressed in undergraduate courses, so too does the teaching and learning of a second language.

Some of the proposed means to accomplish this endeavor  include:

  • Choose a second language (L2) and connect it to your course.

This selection should be based on students’ preferences as well as the instructor’s. It may also be important to consider what resources are available in your community.

  • Start small and introduce changes gradually.

Dr. Hermida suggests starting slow. The class won’t become an immersion class from day one, but he suggests that simply fostering an awareness of the importance of learning a second (or multiple) language can be the first “round.”  Then, work on more concrete plans and activities that will incorporate specific language learning tasks or experiences.  Additionally, it will be important to consider what level you are teaching; with more second language learning taking place as the student progresses to higher course levels.

  • Educate yourself about theories of second language acquisition.

This is not the same as being familiar with learning theories and effective teaching methods. It will require learning about second language acquisition and methods for teaching second languages.

  • Take them out to the field.
  • Hook them up with other L2 learners and native speakers.

Where things become more problematic or lack more explicit details are suggestions such as:

  • Provide input in L2 and Encourage your students to use L2 in class.
  • Help students experiment with L2.

Without the training and understanding in second language acquisition theory and pedagogy, these tasks may prove overwhelming, if not untenable for an instructor, especially if he/she does not speak the second language.  Something not addressed in this article was the idea of partnering with various departments/having instructors collaborate across disciplines.  While some of the suggestions are somewhat “easier said than done,” with proper research and planning, Dr. Hermida’s primary goal of incorporating multilingual practices across disciplines in an effort to promote future student success in a globalized economy is commendable

Post 966 on the Tomorrow’s Professor℠ Mailing List. Original author: Dr. Julian Hermida, Department of Law and Politics, Algoma University, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada