Blog Post

Getting Ready for THATCamp!!!

We're getting ready for the Vanderbilt 2015 THATCamp on Friday, November 6 and Saturday, November 7.  We're hoping that the Nashville members of the group (or any of the Belfast or Aix-en-Provence ones who can catch a quick flight over) can attend.  In order to organize our thoughts for this "unconference,"  I decided to set up a place for us to start posting ideas.  

My personal interest, with regards to this group has to do with the intersection of three basic domains:  the media, the theory, and pedagogy.  Together, these create our classroom practices.

I'll probably spend most of my time, theoretically, exploring the ideas outlined in Double Talk:  Deconstructing Monolingualism in Classroom Second Language Learning by my Vanderbilt colleague, Virginia M. Scott.  I work with her closely at our Center for Second Language Studies.  In Double Talk, Scott looks at different topics related to foreign language teaching practices, such as:  attitudes towards monolingualism/bilingualism; code-switching; language loss/gain; the function of words; the function of grammar; and cross-cultural literacy.  She does this through the lens of two theoretical stances:  dynamic systems theory (DST) and multicompetence.  How does the mix of theory, pedagogical concerns and transnational/transcultural media come together in the classroom?  I hope to discuss this with you at THATCamp!



Sounds great Todd! Perhaps it would be interesting to focus on the role of the instructor in this scenario. What specific methods and concrete steps do indidvidual teachers take to faciltiate these ideas in their own classrooms? What successes have they seen and what challenges have they faced in integrating these ideas? It might be helpful to hear what instructors here at Vanderbilt have to share and then have a brainstorming session to generate some more applicable methods and steps for everyone.


Yes! And along with this question of how to find a delicate balance between the theory and pedagogical concerns while including transnational/transcultural media into the classroom, I think that it is also important to keep in mind how we can use this mixture and come up with different approaches of assessment. What approaches of assessment appear to be the most optimal given the flexibility of such a goal? How can we emphasize in our classrooms that "getting a good grade" (in this context) reaches far beyond that of simply memorizing information? When one tries to emphasize cultural knowledge within the curriculum, how can we adjust to accommodate the vast range of interests held by our students?


Even if I am not a foreign language teacher, I think the approach of Scott's Double Talk will be useful for my classes on world cinema, and cross-cultural popular culture for two main reasons:

- it suggests that language learning should focus less on the transmission of grammar rules, that would be soon forgotten than on other types of content, such as words;

- it deconstructs the my the of 'native-like proficieny', and the related idea of monolingualism, as the goals of teaching foreign languages.

I think that these concepts are becoming crucial also when working in non-foreign language disciplines that, however, are (more and more) deadling with a globalised culture. In fact, they seems to simply reflect 1) the continuous interefence of words from other cultures in our native language and, consequently, 2) our increasingly multi-lingual (if not migratory) experience of everyday life (first of all because of our endless immersion in the digital world).

One isse I'd like to discuss tomorrow is therefore how non-foreign language teachers deal with the mixing of different linguistic (and cultural) sources - and if we can apply some techniques for foreign language teaching in other disciplines.