Languages Across the Curriculum (LxC): We're gonna blog this one…

Here’s the Topic: Languages Across the Curriculum: Examining case studies from different schools while trying to figure out how it could work in your own school. Turn to your partner and discuss. You have five minutes. You may begin.

The recent MLA recommendations outline the importance of teaching language and culture in our post 9/11 world. To quote one of the conclusions of the report: “The time is right for this transforming approach to language and culture study in higher education.”

It sounds like a time to revisit the idea of a Languages Across the Curriculum Initiative. At least… those are some of the rumblings I am hearing around my school.

We were going to have a webcast about this, but we are having some difficulty merging and melding schedules of people who either have LAC (or LxC ) programs in place, or want to know more about them. So the September 27th LLU webcast will not be happening. But here’s a plan: Let’s use this site to blog and comment about existing LAC/LxC programs, questions about programs, etc. Since we can’t seem to get it together synchronously (and not because it is raining here, Pete), let’s try it ascynchronously for a while. Once we get enough people interested in the topic, we can pull out our calendars and have a good ole webcast/chin wag about the topic.

Help us discuss different LAC programs, how they work, and what schools are seeing as an outcome of these initiatives. We welcome your input! We welcome comments and queries, starting right….now.

Barbara is a Lecturer in Hispanic Studies at a small liberal arts college in Maine. Rumor has it this was also her alma mater. She used to work for a small liberal arts college in the cornfields of Ohio for almost 20 years as a teacher and language center director. Prior to these adventures in higher ed she taught high school Spanish and loved it. She wishes she had more time in her life to play with her dogs, write, read, swim, do yoga things and making stuff out of clay. To see her online portfolio please click here!

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  1. Barbara · September 27, 2007 Reply

    We have faculty that do this on the side, but not as part of any formal process… a student, let’s say, is in a politics class and instead of reading English translations reads them in the source language (let’s say French) and then writes a paper in French for the prof, provided said prof is proficient in French.

    I think the student would then get some sort of special credit for language or writing proficiency by doing this…(needed for graduation) ‘Twould be great if the student could get a “LxC” credit too, if we had such a thing…

    I personally think it would be great to celebrate the number of faculty that we have on our campus who speak several languages, but wonder if this poses a heavy burden on them?

  2. Cindy Evans · October 2, 2007 Reply

    At Skidmore we now offer 2 levels of LAC following a very flexible model. It has its advantages and challenges. I’ll describe it briefly since we use a different structure than most LAC programs. We offer a 1-credit S/U LAC course at the 200 level for each of the languages we teach. Students who enroll in LAC select one of the courses they are taking in any content area in English for which they wish to read in L2. We meet once a week to discuss their readings and work on language skills. I’ve been teaching this course for nearly 3 years and I think it works fairly well to meet the needs of the students. Taking the lead from Jan Marston at Drake, I have just this semester begun to incorporate our Language Assistants from France so that I can divide my 11 students into 3 groups to give them more individualized attention. Last year I divided my class in 2 and met with the groups separately. With this model, small groups are essential. Students give an oral summary of their reading each week, in addition to written summaries and glossary building in our moodle site. I’m also now using the Antidote software to have them do revisions in class, so we spend some of our weekly meeting time on oral and written skills.
    Last year we offered a 300-level 2-credit LAC for the first time. I found it difficult to work with class as whole (since we already meet 2x/week, I was not able to split the class). I had 12 students working in 3 groups in class, and also incorporated some whole class activities (based on the French presidential elections last April). This class would have worked much better had I enlisted the help of our French Assistants as the groups really need more supervision to benefit from the sessions.
    I think I’ve rambled on enough here and hope to hear about other LAC programs out there.
    RE your question about the workload, Barbara, the LAC courses do count as part of the teaching load, but are probably not very appealing as 1- and 2-credit classes. If we were also able to bank credits for independent studies and theses it would help to incorporate LAC as part of the load.

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