Lecture by Glenn Levine, November 12, 2020

Glenn Levine, Professor, German, UC Irvine

On Butterflies, Onions, and Surfers: How Language Teaching Can Save the World

Teaching a language always implies an underlying pedagogy. Regardless of whether that pedagogy is explicit or implicit, it is comprised of knowledge, beliefs and assumptions about what language is and how language learning happens. In this presentation, I argue that limiting beliefs and assumptions prevail in many approaches guiding language teaching today. I make the case here for a more expansive, holistic, ecological approach, in which language is viewed as complex and dynamic and as a mobile resource for meaning making, rather than a fixed, static entity. Likewise, language learning is understood as a dynamic process that manifests differently for each individual learner, and I show how our pedagogy should account for this reality. Particularly in the ecology of language education in our complex and troubled times, language learning can realize much more of its potential than the mere acquisition of communicative competence in some form; even the introductory-level language classroom can and should be a site for realizing social justice, for critically engaging with otherness and oneself and one’s own cultural frames, and for fostering human compassion. While the ideas presented are rooted in a range of theoretical models, this presentation will demonstrate how immanently practicable an ecological approach can be.

November 12, 2020
3 – 5 pm
Zoom Session (email victoria@berkeley.edu to register)