Grant supports research on language learning

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Angelique Kraemerdirector of the Language Resource Center (LRC) and Emma BretonLRC Coordinator of Language Learning Initiatives, both at the College of Arts and Sciences, received a grant from ACTFL for their project “Languages ​​Across the Curriculum: Assessing Reflexivity and Critical Language Awareness”.

“Research is a key pillar of ACTFL’s strategic plan and essential to the growth of our field. The submissions were of excellent quality and we are delighted to support this innovative and important research,” ACTFL Director of Assessment and Research Margaret Malone said in a statement.

Languages ​​across the curriculum (LAC) is a new programmatic model for teaching world languages ​​that has grown in popularity since the 1990s. The goal of the BAC program is to take language teaching out of the traditional classroom and into the integrate into subject areas. The BAC sections are often attached to disciplinary “parent” courses and offered in the form of co-required language courses for one credit. The content of BAC classes is not traditional grammar, but rather subject-specific academic discourse, specialized vocabulary, and technical terms drawn from the “mother” class.

At Cornell University, BACs are typically taught by graduate assistants who are native speakers of the target language and subject-specific (rather than linguistic) specialists. Since 2016, the LRC has supported over 80 LAC courses in 14 languages ​​across all disciplines; the courses enrolled nearly 500 students.

Although LAC offers great promise in promoting critical curricular innovations, it is still an emerging field and, as such, is understudied as a programmatic model, according to Kraemer. Kraemer and Britton’s project aims to better understand learning outcomes by working towards a fuller articulation of students’ and teachers’ BAC experiences, using their reflections both as an assessment mechanism and as a unit of analysis.

“Our study explores how students and teachers make sense of their experience with BAC programming, using qualitative approaches and ethnographic traditions to illuminate localized ways of knowing, being, and communicating,” said Kramer. “Understanding the impact of LAC on all participants will enable us to build on its success and provide multilingual students with more opportunities to engage with their subject content in languages ​​other than English.”

Linda B. Glaser is head of news and media relations for the College of Arts and Sciences.

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