Please note that German 727 is a topics course and can be taken more than once.
The world we inhabit is ever-changing. Language teaching methods have undergone major transformations over the decades as a result of research findings in disciplines such as SLA, psychology and education, in reaction to the political landscape, and in an attempt to accommodate new generations of students and teachers. In recent years, critical and social justice approaches to language instruction have gained traction in the profession, but to what extent have educators heeded this call and revised their language curriculum? Do L2 instructors integrate pedagogical practices that promote social justice in their face-to-face or virtual classrooms? In her foreword to Words and Actions: Teaching Languages Through the Lens of Social Justice (2014:8) by Cassandra Glynn, Pamela Wesely, and Beth Wassell, Sonia Nieto writes “… I suspect that for some educators, teaching a world language is still primarily about the mechanics of grammar, correct pronunciation, and something about the geography where a particular language is spoken. […] A social justice perspective makes it clear that teaching world languages is about more than the textbook, more than curriculum, and more than pedagogy. It is also more than a set of skills or specific approaches. Social justice in language teaching is, in effect, a stance, a way of looking at what happens through and beyond the curriculum, the pedagogy, and the instructional materials.”
This course addresses critical and social justice approaches to language instruction. Whose voices and perspectives do we privilege and whose are we biased against, whether explicitly or implicitly, consciously or unconsciously? How can we cultivate classroom environments that are welcoming to all kinds of learners and traditionally marginalized groups and are grounded in inclusivity, equity, and empathy? How can the classroom become, as Glynn describes it, a “transformative place” that can “change students’ lives and their perspectives about the world outside of their own school or community”?
We will begin by looking at the current collegiate pedagogical landscape – how, what, to whom, and by whom are second and foreign languages taught? – before moving on to explore a range of topics. Questions we will explore include (among others): How do our own experiences shape us as instructors? What does a pedagogy that promotes critical and social justice look like, and how does it differ from mainstream approaches? How can language curricula be diversified? What role do authentic materials play in integrating real-world themes, personalizing learning and making instruction relevant for today’s (and tomorrow’s) learners, promoting reflection, fostering intercultural competency, and raising global awareness? How do we accommodate and include learners with diverse needs and backgrounds? How can methods courses prepare educators to teach 21st century learners?
Course requirements include the preparation of scholarly articles and additional readings; leading one class discussion; personal reflections of readings; and creating a pedagogical unit or designing a course syllabus. This course promotes collaborative learning in order to foster a robust sense of community and inclusivity.