Working at the Intersection of Language and Culture in the Digital Age: Practical Approaches to the Pedagogy of Cultural Learning

A workshop organized by Shoggy Waryn (French Studies, Brown University) and the Center for Language Studies at Brown University with Support from the Consortium for Language Teaching and Learning and the Center for Language Studies (CLS, Brown)

Date:  October 5th 2013, 8:30 am-6:00 pm

Venue: ECT lab 201, CIT WATSON BUILDING, 366 Brook Street, Brown University, Providence.

The aim of the proposed workshop is practical: by examining various approaches and modalities of cultural and intercultural learning through the prism of current pedagogical practices, we seek to redefine the goals of “cultural/intercultural” teaching and reassess the role of the teacher/facilitator within this new world of technological possibilities.

The questions are: How do we define transcultural competence and how do we assess progress when most of the learning occurs outside the classroom, in incremental and almost “invisible” ways?  A related question we will explore is to define the new role of the teacher in this fundamentally changed paradigm.

By bringing together a group of teachers who use a variety of approaches and tools to bring cultural and transcultural competence to the forefront of their teaching practices, this workshop aims at fostering exchange and practices that may be applicable across a range of languages, both commonly and less commonly taught, and at all levels of the language curriculum.

For more information: http://www.brown.edu/academics/language-studies/workshop-language-and-culture

Full program here: http://www.brown.edu/academics/language-studies/workshop-language-and-culture/program

Registration: http://www.brown.edu/academics/language-studies/workshop-language-and-culture/registration-and-information


AIEA Presentation - Distance Learning Models for Sharing Language Courses Across Institutions

On Monday, February 18, 2013 Nelleke Van Deusen-Scholl of Yale Columbia and Stéphane Charitos of Columbia University will lead a discussion roundtable entitled Distance Learning Models for Sharing Language Courses Across Institutions at the annual meeting of the Association of International Education Administrators.

For a copy of the proposal, please click here.

We plan to open the session with a short presentation followed by a series of questions to the audience.


Background – For the past ten years or so, Columbia, Yale and Cornell have actively engaged in the process of rethinking what it would mean to become truly global institutions rather than simply being universities with excellent academic resources for studying the world.

While there is no clear agreement among our institutions as to where an engagement with the concept of a global university will eventually lead us, there is broad consensus that practically speaking two things will have to occur. First, we will need to redefine what every student graduating from our universities needs to know about the world in the twenty-first century. And second, we will need to put in place the structures and the mechanisms that will allow them to acquire this knowledge.

Paradox – Paradoxically though, at the same time that we are pushing for the globalization of the university as an institution, we are marginalizing foreign language programs within the structures of the university itself either by retrenching them or by pushing them to the margins of the institution. Either way, the end results are the same: we are making foreign languages programs more and more irrelevant to the new global mission.

It is to try to counter this tendency that the Language Resource Centers at our three institutions, with the help of the Mellon Foundation, have put in place a framework to collaboratively offer a number of less commonly taught languages. Using HD videoconferencing technology, we have created a synchronous, interactive and learner-centered environment that closely emulates a regular language classroom in order to present our students with an experience that is qualitatively comparable to a face-to-face alternative.

What are some strategic benefits of this model?

  • It looks beyond "local" answers or solutions and seeks to establish communities of shared interest (consortia, collaborations, partnerships, etc.) to collectively work towards "global" solutions to common problems.
  • It uses technology to help optimize the way resources are allocated across these communities.
  • It focuses on the qualitative aspect of the experience in order to both engage the faculty and foster the creation and empowering of intellectual communities.

What are some of the tangible goals or objectives sought?

  • Expand course enrollments in the LCTL.
  • Increase the menu of available languages at each institution.
  • Fill existing curricular gaps.
  • Strengthen existing curricula.
  • Share best practices for the teaching of LCTL among institutions.
  • Develop a sense of community among LCTL instructors.

Discussion Topics

I. Questions on (inter)national context

  • What strategic moves has your institution made toward globalization?
  • How have these moves affected your language curriculum, if at all? And what has been your response thus far?
  • Are you considering similar solutions because federal funding cutbacks or other budgetary limitations have affected your language curriculum? If so, what has been your response thus far?

II. Institutional questions

  • Does this model makes sense for every institution and if not, why not?
  • What might be the characteristics of institutions where this model might or might not work?
  • Can this model be adapted to different type of institutions and, if so, how?
  • Should this model be pushed simply because there is a financial crisis or is it valuable in and of itself?
  • What alternative models have been developed?
  • What were the challenges that they have encountered?
  • How and can this model be adapted to address needs in languages other than LCTLs?
  • How can we judiciously utilize technology to expand foreign language enrollments?

III. Curricular questions

  • Is this model valid for every level of instruction?
  • Can and should it be used for other disciplines, for instance other areas of the curriculum that also suffer from the so-called "crisis in the humanities"
  • Can we build support for this type of approach by building bridges and establishing common alliances with other departments or disciplinary areas of study?
  • Why might it be beneficial to find allies in other curricular areas (or not)?

IV. Administrative questions

  • How do you address the nuts-and-bolts administrative issues that need to be sorted out (scheduling, tuition, administrative buy-in, administrative buy-in, accreditation, etc.)?
  • How do you find the right partners—i.e. the right fit?
  • How do you align administrative concerns with those of departments/programs?
  • Must these programs necessarily be funded by outside donors? How can you sell this type of programs to your administration so that they can be considered for internal funding?

V. Language questions

  • Is this model valid only for the LCTL?
  • If it is, can it be adapted for other languages?
  • If it isn't, how can it be altered to address curricular and instructional challenges in other languages? Should it be?
  • Does this model change the way we view language teaching and learning and is this a good or bad thing?
  • How do we know whether this model works?
  • How should we assess this model?
  • What should we be assessing?
  • What would you consider proof of success?

VI. Technology questions

  • How is your institution positioning itself in the online learning debate (e.g. jumping on the MOOC bandwagon?) in general and on the usage of technology in the classroom in particular?
  • How can you carve out a distinctive niche in an environment dominated and largely defined by online learning models including MOOCS?
  • How can we sort out online, blended, etc. learning?
  • Why is this form of technology-enabled learning more useful than others types of online learning?
  • How can you differentiate this type of offerings ("boutique offerings as someone called it at Columbia) from other forms of technology-mediated learning?
  • In what ways can technology-mediated learning help develop global competency among students?
  • How can we share best practice (e-mentoring perhaps)?

Call for Consortium Workshop

The Consortium for Language Teaching and Learning is pleased to announce that it seeking proposals from its members schools for the organization of a workshop on issues of pedagogy to be held in the fall of 2013 on one of its member campuses. To support this initiative, the CLTL offers funding of up to $5000 in support of the workshop. Proposals must be submitted by a member of the language faculty of one of the member institutions. Joint proposals by more than one institution are particularly welcomed. All proposals will be reviewed by members of the Consortium Board, and one will be selected for funding.

More details are available in the attached document below.

Call for Proposals


Rethinking the Language Center (Presentations)

Introduction to the Symposium
Nelleke Van Deusen-Scholl, Director, Yale Language Center; Executive Director of the Consortium for Language Teaching and Learning

Introduction to the Keynote Presentation
Nelleke Van Deusen-Scholl, Director, Yale Language Center; Executive Director of the Consortium for Language Teaching and Learning

The Educational Promise of the Language Center
Claire Kramsch, University of California at Berkeley

Presentation slides available here.


Panel 1: Mission (Facilitated by Catherine Baumann, Senior Lecturer, Director of the Language Program in German, University of Chicago)

Richard Kern, Associate Professor and Director of the Berkeley Language Center, University of California at Berkeley

Presentation slides available here.

Stéphane Charitos, Director of the Language Resource Center, Columbia University

Dianna Murphy, Associate Director, UW-Madison Russian Flagship Center; Associate Director, Languages Institute, University of Wisconsin, Madison

Presentation slides available here.

Panel 2: Stucture (Facilitated by Richard Feldman, Director, Language Resource Center, Cornell University)

Dan Soneson, Director of CLA Language Center, University of Minnesota

Presentation slides available here.

Mary Toulouse, Director of FLL Resource Center and Visiting Instructor of French, Lafayette College


Presentation slides available here.

Ray Clifford, Director, Center for Language Studies, Brigham Young University

Presentation slides available here.

Panel 3: Governance (Facilitated by Elsa Amanatidou, Senior Lecturer, Modern Greek Studies. Director, Center for Language Studies, Brown University)

Steven Clancy, Director of the Slavic Language Program, Harvard University

Presentation slides available here.

Hiram Maxim, Director of The Emory College Language Center and Associate Professor, German Studies, Emory University

Presentation slides available here.


Rethinking the Language Center in the Age of Globalization - A Symposium sponsored by the Consortium for Language Teaching and Learning and the Yale Center for Language Study 

When: November 9 and 10, 2012

Where: Yale University

Approximately twelve years ago, the Consortium for Language Teaching and Learning convened a small symposium at Yale University to discuss the then emerging role of language centers at institutions of higher education (cf. Garrett, 2001).  Since then, there have been significant developments with a major impact on foreign language education in the United States: the post 9/11 emphasis on the so-called critical languages, the 2007 MLA report “Foreign Languages and Higher Education: New Structures for a Changed World,” and the strong movement toward institutional globalization.  Centers must adapt to meet the current goals of foreign language education, which, as noted in the MLA Report, are shifting toward an emphasis on translingual and transcultural competence. Moreover, the brick and mortar presence of the language center as a sophisticated technology space has lost some of its relevance, as technology has moved toward online applications that allow students and faculty to access resources from anywhere, whether that be at home, in the office, or abroad. However, other needs have become more urgent: professional development and support of language faculty – especially those in so-called bifurcated departments - has become central to and even a critical part of the mission of language centers. The language center has also become a space for innovation and experimentation in language teaching, where new approaches can be piloted and new technologies can be tested.

The symposium will be held at the Whitney Humanities Center and will start on Friday night (November 9) with an opening talk by Claire Kramsch (UC Berkeley) entitled "The educational promise of the language center" followed by a reception. On Saturday (November 10), there will be three panels, devoted in turn to Mission, Structure, and Governance, each with three invited speakers.  We hope to bring together colleagues from a range of institutions across the United States.

You can register for the conference here.

Please click here for a copy of the conference program.

Parking and accommodation information can be found here.

We invite you to participate in this discussion.

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