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Language Resource Center

Events of 2008-2009

Sep 9
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
4 - 5:30, Noyes Lodge
Zyzik Pre-talk discussion
This is the event to discuss "Reconciling the Language-Literature Split through Literacy." Anyone who has read the article is invited to attend. The idea is to prepare our minds to better integrate the Zyzik talk into our thinking by reading and discussing this article that she recommends as germane to the talk.

September 16
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Eve Zyzik, University of California, Santa Cruz

Reconciling language and content goals: Research findings and pedagogical solutions

Reception at 3:30, talk from 4 to 5:30, reception following
Noyes Lodge

This talk will explore a critical question being asked by many in the language teaching profession: Do content-based courses provide second language learners with (sufficient) opportunities to develop their language skills? This question is contextualized by the recent Modern Language Association (MLA) report and other scholarly perspectives on the language-literature dichotomy still practiced in many foreign language departments. Although recent trends stress the importance of introducing literary texts at beginning levels (i.e., in first- and second-year courses), little attention has been paid to a complementary approach: integrating more language-focused instruction into existing literature/culture classes. After reporting the results of a multiple case study involving fourth-year Spanish literature classes (Zyzik and Polio, 2007; Polio and Zyzik, in press), I will examine a range of pedagogical solutions to the problem of integrating language and content goals in the foreign language classroom.

Eve Zyzik is just moving from Michigan State to University of California, Santa Cruz. She is the co-author of "Incidental Focus on Form in University Spanish Literature Courses" MLJ 92:1, Spring 2008, pp. 53-70. As preparation for this talk, she recommends reading Richard Kern, "Reconciling the Language-Literature Split through Literacy," ADFL Bulletin, 33:3, Spring 2002, 20-24.
This year, to increase the benefit from these talks, the LRC will host pre-talk discussions of papers suggested by the speakers, in this case the Kern paper. These will be usually one week before the talk, on the same weekday. So the first of these will be Tuesday, September 9 at 4pm. Place TBA.

Sep 19
Friday, September 19, 2008
4 - 5:30, Noyes Lodge
New teacher get-together
This year we have quite a few new teachers. This is a time for them to meet each other and all teachers can meet and welcome them. Come and meet your new colleagues!

Oct 2
Thursday, October 2, 2008
4 - 5:30, Noyes Lodge
Reception preceding and following
Current Issues in Task-Based Language Teaching
Michael Long, Professor of SLA and Director
School of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures
University of Maryland
Abstract: A considerable amount of empirical research has been reported on various aspects of TBLT over the past 20 years. Continuing lines of inquiry include relationships between text modification types and L2 comprehension, and pedagogic task-types and L2 production. Meanwhile, other as yet unsolved problems in TBLT of considerable practical importance need attention. Examples include identifying reliably measurable parameters of task complexity and criteria for pedagogic task sequencing, both of which are major issues for instructors and materials writers, alternatives in task-based testing, and TBLT program evaluation. I will briefly review current issues facing TBLT theorists and practitioners, and illustrate potential solutions to some of remaining problems.

For an introduction to this field, Professor Long recommends Long, M. H., & Norris, J. M. (2000). "Task-based teaching and assessment." In Byram, M. (ed.), Encyclopedia of language teaching (pp. 597-603). London: Routledge.
For an excellent structured synthesis of Long's SLA principles and structures, see "Optimal psycholinguistic environments for distance foreign language learning," Doughty, C. J., & Long, M. H. (2003)Language Learning and Technology. Volume 7, Number 3 (September) 2003, 50-80. This is a discussion of teaching/learning principles for any situation really, not just distance learning.
Finally, for this particular talk, Long recommends Long, M. H. (2007). Texts, tasks, and the advanced learner. In Long, M. H., Problems in SLA (pp. 119-38). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Nov 5
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
4 - 5:30, Noyes Lodge
Receptions preceding and following talk
Barry O'Sullivan
Professor of Applied Linguistics, University of Roehampton, London
Director, Centre for Language Assessment Research

"Oral Testing and Classroom Oral Performance"

Professor O'Sullivan will discuss oral testing from a theoretical point of view, then describe a project that resulted in an innovative peer-based oral testing system.

He has provided me with two papers of relevance to his talk. "Using observation checklists to validate speaking-test tasks" discusses the construct of speaking and speaking assessment, and recounts an attempt to devise a checklist that would be used in real time to assess the speech functions produced during an oral assessment task.
"Notes on Assessing Speaking" (2008) includes a very useful discussion of the various types of tasks used in speaking assessment with their advantages and disadvantages, and further discusses the theoretical and practical factors involved in speaking assessment.
Dec 9
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
9 - 12, Noyes Lodge, followed by lunch and afternoon online testing workshop 1 - 3pm
LRC Workshop
In the morning part of this workshop, we will demonstrate downloading and handling of video files from various sources on various platforms. We will discuss sources of video, including VHS, DVD, web and LRC satellite TV. Teachers will then have time to work on putting video files on the web in various forms using new versions of LRC tools. We will discuss tools and processes for Windows and Mac computers. At the end of the morning we will have a show-and-tell of what people have done and discuss what features/programs/facilities you would like. We will also report on the Video-on-Demand system that's been in place this semester, and other changes at the LRC.

After lunch (provided), from 1 to 3, we will have a hands-on workshop offered by OWL technologies. This company offers tools specialized for language teaching that allow teachers to put tests/activities of many useful types online. They have sent me a useful summary and life-cycle of their testing tools. Their system incorporates rubrics for evaluation in a way that is very useful for orienting less experienced teachers, and student results can be transformed into an online portfolio. There will be time for teachers to develop their own online materials. You can use videos you have created in the morning, and/or bring your own testing material of any type.
Feb 12
Thursday, February 12, 2009
4 - 5:30, Noyes Lodge
Receptions preceding (from 3:30) and following the event

"Teaching as Discursive Practice"
Richard Young
Professor, Department of English, University of Wisconsin-Madison

We now have the audio and handout for this talk online.
Discursive practice is the construction and reflection of social realities through linguistic actions which invoke identity, ideology, belief, and power. The teaching of discursive practices in a second language has been approached in different ways. One way is to analyze the verbal and interactional architecture of practices that people do in a community and attempt to reproduce that architecture as a pedagogical exercise. This approach I call the pedagogy of practice and it has been a way of grounding second language instruction in discursive practice. With its exclusive focus on internal architecture, however, the pedagogy of practice has ignored the function of practice as pivot between the individual and society. This is the concern of critical pedagogy, in which the ideology and political control of pedagogical practices are foregrounded.

The second context is in the assessment of learning, and here my point of departure is that an individual's ability is displayed differently (and thus assessed to be different) in different practices. Considering language assessment as a discursive practice has several important consequences. Above all, the verbal and interactional architecture of the practice of assessment must be described and then compared with the performance that the assessment is intended to measure. But testing, like teaching, does not occur in a social and political vacuum, and much attention has been directed in recent work to the political purposes that language assessments serve in multicultural societies. Critical approaches to language assessment highlight the functions and consequences of language tests as instruments to sort individuals and to control access to a desired status and to economic resources. A practice approach to language pedagogy and assessment thus complements a practice approach to language learning by explicating these two contexts of use.

Professor Young has sent me two chapters from his forthcoming book, Language and Interaction: An Advanced Resource Book as introduction to his talk: Interactional competence and Assessing interactional competence.
March 5-7
Thursday through Saturday, March 5-7, 2009
Thursday, March 5, 4 - 5:30; Friday March 6, 4 - 5:30; and Saturday, March 7, 9:00 - 12 Noyes Lodge
Kimi Kondo-Brown and Sung-Ock Sohn "Heritage Language Programs: Beginning and Advanced; Testing, Placement and Curriculum"
"Heritage language learner" has a broad range of definitions, but they all seem to include elements of 1) family/community exposure and identification; and 2) partial proficiency. Both elements pose challenges to the foreign language teacher/program director. Testing HLS can be difficult because of their often uneven skill profiles; many HLSs have much lower proficiency in written than oral skills. These same issues form part of the curricular challenge. Some programs are able to have separate tracks for these skills, but cultural identification complexities remain. Simply the multicultural/multilingual nature of HLSs, regardless of their language abilities, may position them in a distinct place in the classroom. If they are mixed with non-HLSs, they may intimidate the other students, especially with their early oral proficiency. At the same time, they can be a resource in the classroom when the teacher knows how to bring them out for the class's benefit. Finally, HLSs sometimes have covert agendas, such as getting an easy grade.

HLSs pose a challenge to most language programs. Teachers have devised solutions, but most have remaining questions. This event proposes to bring to campus two national leaders in HL studies to help teachers gain insights into best practices, to have discussion and feedback on their own practices, and to increase confidence in providing the best learning environment for HL and non-HL students.

The event will include participation by Kimi Kondo-Brown (Associate Professor, Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures, University of Hawaii at Manoa), editor of "Teaching Chinese, Japanese and Korean heritage language students: curriculum needs, materials, and assessment" (2008); and Sung-Ohk S. Sohn (Professor in Department of Asian Languages and Cultures, UCLA), author of "True beginners, false beginner, and fake beginners: placement challenges for Korean heritage speakers" (2007). The event begins with a talk by Professor Brown on Thursday March 5. Then on Friday, both speakers will meet with teachers and observe classes, at teachers' choice and invitation. Friday afternoon there will be a second talk, by Professor Sohn. Then Saturday morning there will be panels involving CU teachers and the speakers on various HLS issues, ending with a summary by the speakers.

Apr 7
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
4 - 5:30, G 05 Noyes Lodge
Preceded and followed by (virtual) reception
Mark Warschauer, Departments of Education and Informatics
University of California, Irvine
"Web 2.0 for language learning."
Mark Warschauer was one of the first educational researchers to pay serious attention to the affordances and efficacy of computer assisted language learning, especially computer mediated communication. Since then he has gone on to analyze emerging trends in social computing and interpret them for educators.

In this talk, he will review the principal modes of Web 2.0, pointing out their meaning and potential for education. His talk will be related to this article. This event will be via videoconference, in G05 Noyes Lodge.

Apr 17
Friday, April 17, 2009
4 - 5:30, Morrill 106
Reception before and after the talk
Claire Kramsch
University of California, Berkeley
"Transcultural competence and the need to 'operate between languages'"
Claire is of course one of the leading figures in culture and language learning. She was one of the authors of the MLA report, "Foreign Languages and Higher Education: New Structures for a Changed World."

She suggests, "Third Culture and Language Education," and "Ecological Perspectives on Foreign Language Education" as relevant background for her talk.
May 5
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
9am to 1pm, Noyes Lodge
Light lunch provided
Spring LRC Workshop
We will have a couple of guests - Lance Heidig from the library talking about the collection of materials in second language studies, and Sydney Van Morgan from the Institute for European Studies, talking about the Language Fair she is organizing for Freshman Orientation 09. Then the focus of the workshop will be on reports from teachers on uses they have made of various web tools in their classes and programs. There will be a light lunch.