Welcome to the 8th Language Educator Symposium, sponsored by Penn Language Center (PLC) and the Educational Linguistics Division at Penn’s Graduate School of Education (GSE). This year’s symposium focuses on two key concepts of interest to researchers and practitioners within the field of language education alike: discourse and interaction.
Discourse analysts whose research examines language beyond the level of the sentence and interaction in spoken, written, electronic format, etc. have a fundamental interest in language in use. Shared by language educators and within the language education field, this common interest prominently crystallizes in the concept of communication. Indeed, language educators have long recognized the importance of promoting and enabling communication within and outside of the language classroom. For example, Communicative Language Teaching, with the primary goal of the development of learners’ ability to interact meaningfully in the target language is the dominant paradigm in language teaching. The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) World Readiness Standards for Learning Languages identify Communication as the first goal area among their five goal areas. Thus, this first goal area intertwines with the remaining four: Cultures, Connections, Comparisons, and Communities. Whether language educators design activities or materials, choose or adapt textbooks, scaffold formative and summative assessments, or seek out resources, they draw upon and rely in part on their own intuition, experience, and understanding of how language is used to inform their practice.
Nevertheless, “intuition cannot be expected to encompass the rich detail and patterning of natural talk” (McCarthy, 2008, p. 145). How can research in discourse analysis and interaction inform language educators about, for example, how spoken and written texts, such as invitations or complaints, are structured and patterned, or what the importance of seemingly small interactional phenomenon such as “okay” or “y’know” might mean for instructional design, teaching techniques, and teaching practices. Additionally, given the complexities of what happens in a language classroom, classroom discourse research can shed light on practice, by slowing down the activity of teaching and learning, and subjecting it to micro-analysis. As our keynote speaker, Hansun Zhang Waring, notes, “Becoming a language teacher is in part a process of learning to “see” (social and classroom) interaction–millisecond by millisecond, and frame by frame”. (Waring, 2018).
The 2018 Symposium will focus on how language educators can bring to bear the fundamental concepts of discourse and interaction to practical and productive fruition in their classrooms. In the spirit of our theme for this year, we offer six interactive workshops that will address a range of issues from materials design, learning in online contexts, to humor in the classroom.
ACT 48 credit available (earn up to 7 hours).
Click here for the event flyer.