Teaching World Languages at Vanderbilt:
Goals & Approaches
Vanderbilt University
Center for Second Language Studies
Virginia M. Scott
September 2, 2011
FL learning in the 21st century
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In the face of complex political, economic, and ecological
challenges of the 21st century, second language learning will
play an increasingly important role.
People of all languages and cultures will need to talk to each
other and, more importantly, be sensitive to the many ways
that people construe and convey meaning.
FL learning at Vanderbilt
The VU Undergraduate Catalogue:
“The holistic focus of a liberal education encompasses
all areas of human knowledge: the sciences,
mathematics, foreign languages and cultures, the arts,
and the humanities.” (p. 66)
FL learning at Vanderbilt
The AXLE requirement:
International Cultures (INT) 3 courses
“The study of international culture provides students with a basis for
understanding the diversity of experiences and values in our
contemporary, global society.”
“Language courses introduce students to the language of a different
culture and provide insight into that culture in ways that are not
possible through detached study. At intermediate and advanced
levels, students are able to explore the culture in depth, using the
language itself to read, discuss, and write about its various aspects.
Even at the most basic level, exposure to the language of a different
culture prepares students to think and act in terms of living in a global
community”.
VU goals restated
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Understand diversity of experiences in our
global society
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Develop cultural awareness
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Get an “insider’s view” of other cultures
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Use the language to speak, read, and write.
Exploring our own beliefs
- Fill out the questionnaire.
- Discuss your answers with a person from
another language group.
Klaus Brandl’s 8 principles of
communicative language teaching
1) Use tasks as an organizing principle (rather than
grammar topics)
Ex: Talk about your family; organize a dinner;
plan a trip
2) Promote learning by doing
3) Input needs to be rich and authentic; maximize use
of the target language
4) Input needs to be meaningful and comprehensible
IRE vs. IRF
Klaus Brandl’s 8 principles of
communicative language teaching
5) Promote cooperative and collaborative learning
6) Focus on form
explicit grammar teaching:
deductive = rule  example
inductive = example  rule
7) Provide error corrective feedback
positive vs. negative feedback
8) Recognize and respect affective factors of learning
(anxiety, motivation, attitude, etc.)
Define goals in terms of
developing literacy
“What I mean by “literacy”… is more than reading and writing
as skills or as prescribed patterns of thinking. It is about
relationships between readers, writers, texts, culture, and
language learning. It is about the variable cognitive and social
practices of taking and making textual meaning that provide
students access to new communities outside the classroom,
across geographical and historical boundaries. It involves an
awareness of how acts of reading, writing, and conversation
create and shape meanings, not merely transfer them from
one individual or group to another. It is precisely because
literacy is not monolithic, but variable and multiple, tied to the
various sociocultural practices of a given society, that is of key
importance in our teaching of language and culture .”
Kern 2003, p. 3.
).
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References
Brandl, K. (2008). Communicative language teaching in action: Putting
Principles to Work. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Kern, R. G. (2003). Literacy and advanced foreign language learning:
Rethinking the curriculum. In H. Byrnes & H. H. Maxim (Eds.),
Advanced foreign language learning: A challenge to college
programs (pp. 2-18). AAUSC Issues in Language Program
Direction. Boston, MA: Heinle.
Vanderbilt University Undergraduate Catalog.
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