Foreign Language as the Culture Dissertation

Excerpt from Dissertation :

For both teachers, however, Boxer and Cortes-Conde highlight moments where the teacher talk lends itself to greater student interaction. At these moments, the teachers often fostered group discussions by asking students about their own cultural norms. When teachers took on the role of information brokers, students resumed the role of passive learners. The authors argue that open dialogue is crucial to fostering pragmatic and sociocultural competence, and that teachers can create this open dialogue and a place of comfort and still encourage pragmatic awareness. (Hall & Verplaetse, 2000, p. 15)

Stressing among new and existing foreign language educators the importance of classroom interaction as well as cultural expression is essential, as the manner in which context is delivered, as apposed to content lectured upon creates foundational interest and potential independent motivation to learn. Curriculum, must be inclusive and collaborative to engender individual motivation, which is essential to foreign language learning, and this is especially true with adults who are at a proven biological disadvantage and therefore require more motivation to learn and retain information.

As learner motivation is crucial to the development of foreign language skills as well as any academic endeavor the results of motivating through context teaching and conversational, collaborative functions may be one of the greatest assets the foreign language academy can develop. Moser has developed a line of reasoning, based upon empirical qualitative and quantitative data with regard to collaborative and diverse foreign language programs at a minority of universities in the U.S.

A on campuses where the support for foreign language study is especially strong, programs of foreign language across the curriculum have been developed to expose students to content courses in other disciplines offered all or in part in the foreign language (Knecht, 1999; Rivers, 1994).

(Moser, 2001, p. 4)

Sadly, Moser also points out that the recent historical emphasis on the growing Spanish as first language minority in the U.S. has created a system that is divergent to true diversity in language learning. This is despite the fact that many universities in the nation are also stressing the need to internationalize curriculum to meet new global environmental needs, of all kinds. "... On the majority of campuses, foreign language study is hardly a strong component of the university's mission to internationalize. This clearly needs to change." (Moser, 2001, p. 5) One very strong point that Moser makes is that within universities there is a large body of formal as well as informal structures that could embellish foreign language learning. What is meant by this is the there is a culture of diversity upon college campuses, that can be found almost nowhere else and creating systems where interactions are easier to facilitate could help all language learners better accommodate the needs and interests of their courses and programs.

A it is equally important to create among our colleagues a community of scholars across campus, so that the broader university context supports the extended study of foreign languages by students over time. Though derived from the broader vision that foreign languages are central to the curriculum of an internationalized campus, the focus here is on describing tangible, tried-and-true strategies to make this a reality. (Moser, 2001, p. 5)

The tangible strategies Moser speaks of are indicative of contact points as well as discussion groups, either informal or electronic that facilitate conversations and context that are conducive of foreign language practice and participation. Though some universities clearly have developed such organizations, sometimes through extracurricular clubs and informal gathers that feed a system of context conversation, if such programs were made open to more students, through structured awareness campaigns as well as common interest opportunities they might be more effectively utilized to facilitate cultural as well as language learning opportunities, in a diverse set of languages. Moser also points at that college curriculum plans are saturated, making foreign language a difficult aspect to include if they are not in the direct goal of the student and expectations of being able to add two years of instruction in a foreign language course will make them effective speakers and users of the language are false and dangerous to some degree as they deter from the goal of life long foreign language learning. (Moser, 2001, p. 5) (Lightner, Bober & Willi, 2007, p. 5)

Christian, Pufahl & Rhodes discuss a recent study that was conducted to better understand how other nations have conducted their foreign language stressors to create success in foreign language learning, over a lifetime. The researchers found that there were several commonalities in many cultures that added to the cohesiveness and effectiveness of the programs

In 2000, to gain a better idea of what other countries were doing in foreign language education, the Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL) collected information about policies and practices in 19 countries in diverse regions of the world. (5) This exploratory study found that successful language programs shared several common features

An early start. In most of the countries surveyed, the majority of students are required to begin learning additional languages in the elementary grades, whereas U.S. schools typically do not even offer foreign language classes until secondary school.

A coherent framework. Language educators in other countries stress the importance of a coherent, well-articulated framework for instruction. Such a system builds on students' skills from one level to the next, with aligned standards and a proficiency orientation. The framework is clearly understood by teachers and students and indicates when students start studying a foreign language, how much instruction they receive, and what levels of proficiency they are expected to achieve.

Strong leadership. Fostering successful language education programs requires leadership at all levels of government and solid partnerships among key stakeholders. The nature of the partnerships varies from country to country, but government leadership is critical.

Language as a core subject. Countries that take languages seriously treat them as important core subjects. In many countries, at least one foreign language is compulsory for all students. Often, foreign languages are accorded the same status as mathematics, reading, and writing and are required for school exit examinations and university entrance.

Rigorous teacher education. Teacher education is critical to excellence in foreign language education. In some countries, university teacher education programs are highly selective, drawing from among the best high school graduates.

Language through content. In many countries, foreign languages are used to teach such school subjects as geography, history, and physical education, once students have achieved a measure of proficiency in the language.

Creative use of technology. Language programs around the world make creative use of technology to increase the interaction of learners with native speakers and to improve classroom instruction. The Internet is becoming the technology of choice, with students accessing authentic materials in the target language -- both text and audio and video files -- and interacting with native speakers in online chat rooms. These tools can increase students' motivation and decrease their anxiety, as well as provide more practice in using the language.

Support for heritage languages. Linguistically diverse countries have established policies and practices that foster the maintenance and development of heritage languages -- the native languages of their diverse populations. This works to the benefit of the learners, the heritage communities, and the society as a whole. (Christian, Pufahl & Rhodes, 2005, p. 226)

The value of this list of successful strategies is twofold, of coarse the list includes serious persuasive arguments for the establishment of learning foreign language as a life long endeavor, but they also make clear that the value of foreign language learning in general must be increased and expanded in the U.S. For post-secondary language learning to be effective on many levels.

According to Healy the importance of creating systems that are effective for post-sec level students is essentially a demonstrative task that will involve a shift in the ideals of the programs. The success, of programs and individuals is defined, as optimal when it effectively,

Minimize[s] the time to reach a criterion level of performance, ensure[s] the long-term retention of the acquired knowledge and skills that underlie performance, and provide[s] for maximal transfer of what has been learned from the training context to other environments. (Healy, 1998, p. 4)

Another issue that is essential to a greater understanding of the means of necessary change in foreign language teaching and learning and eventually retention in the post-sec environment is the utilization of technology as a rich resource, when appropriately applied to language learning. (Belz, 2002) (Naidu, 2003)

Foreign Language Learning (FLL) students commonly have few opportunities to use their target language. Teachers in FLL situations do their best to create opportunities during classes through pair or group work, but a variety of factors ranging from a lack of time to shyness or limited opportunity for quality feedback hamper this. This paper discusses online chatbots' potential role in fulfilling…

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