Category: Language Teaching
The energy drain of the language enrollments issue
In two previous posts, I’ve addressed structural aspects of the language enrollments issue as well as some ideas on what language teachers can control. In this post, I want to address a final aspect of this issue: energy, and the energy-draining nature of being asked to justify a central part of one’s existence.
The enrollments issue: What can language teachers do?
Two weeks ago, I wrote a post on structural aspects of the language issue, and promised a future one on things that I think are within language teacher’s control, and that we can work on. Today, I’m back with that post. I have to admit this one was kind of a struggle, as most of the ideas I think could be effective are still difficult to implement in institutional settings (or at least the ones I’m familiar with). I’ve also divided this up into three parts: ideas I think are terrible, ideas I think could be effective but struggle to implement, and ideas that I think are more likely to be successful (sort of). I guess you can see already what I think about this topic 🥲
Structural Aspects of the Language Enrollments Issue
In response to the problem of declining enrollments in language classes, the message given to teachers is “get your enrollments up!” While this may seem like an obvious solution, it actually creates even more anxiety and frustration as it is a request for overloaded language teachers to take on additional work, in which they have no training, in an environment in which many structural factors are out of their control.
Systems for setting up a Language Learning Center
As most of my energy the last two months has been consumed in taking over as Interim Director of our Language Learning Center, I thought I’d take this blog post to describe what that experience has been like, and the systems I’ve been using to stay on top of a lot of new information.
Summer Blog and Podcast Recommendations
I traditionally take the summer off of blogging, so this is my last post until August! So, I thought I’d provide a roundup of some of my favorite blogs and podcasts for you to consume, as if you enjoy my blog you will probably enjoy some of these as well.
Language Ideologies in the Wild: Duolingo
In this latest post on language ideologies in the wild, I’ll be discussing the popular app Duolingo, which describes itself as “The world’s best way to learn a language”. As usual, I’ll be discussing the language ideologies behind the assumptions this app makes about languages and language learning, and the ways these ideologies contribute to social inequities. To be clear, as with the rest of the posts in this series, I do not think this is intentional on Duolingo’s part, but it is the natural consequence of not being aware of language ideologies. It’s also true that you could level many of the critiques I’m making of Duolingo at introductory language classes, but Duolingo is the app I’ve heard uncritically recommended on multiple podcasts recently (and I’m not sure I’ve ever heard a language class recommended!).
Variation and Standardization in the Language Classroom: Are We Asking the Wrong Questions?
Variation is inherent to languages and language users, yet is it often the subject of consternation in the language classroom, especially at lower levels. Essentially, the questions center around which variety to teach? Can we teach multiple varieties? Will this confuse students? Will they understand how to use them? What if they mix varieties? Per the request of a colleague, this post discusses the issue of variation and standardization in the language classroom. I suggest that rather than worry about the challenges of variation, we should be questioning practices of standardization and the inequities they reproduce.
We Can Learn Arabic Website: Spring Update
Last Fall, I mentioned that my colleagues Heather Sweetser, Abdullah Serag, and I had launched We Can Learn Arabic, an open access website for Arabic learners at beginning and intermediate levels. This is the culmination of six years of moving away from a textbook in our lower level classes, as well as many of the research inspirations I’ve discussed on this blog, including multilingual and genre-based approaches and genre-based approaches. We’ve now been using the website in our classrooms for almost 1.5 semesters, so I thought I’d give an update on how it’s worked, improvements we’ve made, and plans for the future.
Language Learning in Study Abroad: The Multilingual Turn
Next month marks the release of Language Learning in Study Abroad: The Multilingual Turn, a book I am very excited to see in print!. I’m a co-editor, along with Wenhao Diao, and thought it would be fun to write a post highlighting how this book came about, as well as the chapters themselves and the insights they provide into language learning during study abroad.
November Updates: Daycare, Book, Article, Award!
November is traditionally the crunch month in the academic calendar, marking the almost end of a long semester (Weeks 11-15 of 17 at my institution). Everyone is tired, stressful assignments are coming up, we’re behind and there’s less time to catch up, it’s getting cold. This year, of course, we also have pandemic anxiety and fatigue, and with case counts rising sharply, New Mexico entered a full lockdown on November 16. Not to mention the weeks of election anxiety and transition stalling*. At the same time, November also brought several bright points in my academic career, so I thought I’d share those here!