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An integrative (and interdisciplinary) syllabus for Second Language Acquisition (SLA). Joint Fellows Symposium 2013 Dominik Wolff (IIT Fellow) Second Language Studies Program. What is SLA?.

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an integrative and interdisciplinary syllabus for second language acquisition sla

An integrative (and interdisciplinary) syllabus for Second Language Acquisition (SLA)

Joint Fellows Symposium 2013

Dominik Wolff (IIT Fellow)

Second Language Studies Program

what is sla
What is SLA?
  • Second language acquisition (SLA) is the study of how second languages are learned and the factors that influence the process.
  • Different approaches: e.g. cognitive, socio-cultural
  • SLA is not inherently interdisciplinary although that is sometimes the claim (taking professors from different department does not make it interdisciplinary)
the class
The class
  • Undergraduate students; mostly Education majors (some language or TESOL minors); mostly juniors/seniors
  • Future teachers: content or languages (K-12), some teachers want to teach English abroad
syllabus before and after
Syllabus: before and after

Motivation for upgrading the syllabus:

  • Lack of value for the students (future teachers)
  • Although the topic is fundamentally ‘learning’, it makes SLA look abstract/unique/unrelatable

Goal:

  • Integrate knowledge from disciplines and also from other sources, e.g. the students’ life experiences
  • Connect this knowledge with their future careers
how do we get there
How do we get there?
  • Backwards design (Wiggins and McTighe, 2006)
  • Usually used for curricular units and not entire classes or programs (but it works for me)
syllabus old
Syllabus (OLD)

Materials: mostly SLA readings (articles)

Articles: mostly from a cognitive perspective on SLA (most TAs’ and professors’ preferred area of research)

Assignments: article presentations, quizzes, exams, (reflective) papers

syllabus additions changes
Syllabus: Additions/Changes

Assignments:

  • Linguistic autobiography
  • Comparative case study / L2 learner biographies
syllabus additions changes1
Syllabus: Additions/Changes

Materials:

  • More variety
  • Articles yes, but not only of the academic kind
  • Multiple disciplines represented: e.g. psychology, educational psychology, teacher education
  • Selected readings from:
    • Atkinson, D. (Ed.). (2011). Alternative approaches to second language acquisition. London: Routledge.
    • Gibbs, R. (1994). The Poetics of Mind: Figurative Thought, Language, and Understanding. Cambridge: Cambridge University press.
    • Gladwell, M. (2008). Outliers. New York: Little, Brown & Company.
    • Kramsch, C. (Ed.). (2002). Language acquisition and language socialization: Ecological perspectives. London: Continuum.
    • Pinker, S. (2007). The Language Instinct: How The Mind Creates Language. New York: Harper Perennial Modern Classics.
a work in progress what s next
A work in progress – what’s next?
  • Get feedback from my current group of students about both versions of the syllabus
  • Try it out and refine it
  • Could be adapted for variety of contexts and classes (e.g. grad level; undergrad intro to linguistics)
special thanks
Special Thanks

Ann Chrapkiewicz

LamiFofana-Kamara

Michael Macaluso

Samantha Noll

Emily Riley

BaburhanUzum

Colleen Tremonte

Constance Hunt

Linda Racioppi

Louise Jezierski

Paula Winke

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