Lectures by BLC Fellows (K. Balter, C. Girvin, M. Prina, C. Tsai), December 6, 2013

Fall 2013 BLC Fellows’ Instructional Development Research Projects

“Have you heard that one about…?”: Russian Language and Culture through the Anekdot
Katya Balter, GSR, Slavic Languages and Literatures
Humor is notoriously difficult for L2 students to grasp and yet real linguistic and cultural competency requires a certain level of comfort with humor—at least recognizing it and reacting appropriately if not actually participating in its production. My project uses the Russian anekdot—a short humorous narrative featuring a few stock characters—to acquaint students with a part of the language and culture that is often overlooked in beginning and intermediate classes. After a brief overview of the curated anekdoty along with their secondary contextualizing materials, I will show how the anekdot can be used to improve students’ speaking and oral comprehension as well as their cultural literacy.
Download Balter handout as PDF

Uniting the BCS Classroom with Folkloric Language
Cammeron Girvin, GSR, Slavic Languages and Literatures
Following the political division of Yugoslavia and the corresponding linguistic breakup of Serbo-Croatian into “BCS” (Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian), all three linguistic variants are taught together in one course. At times, this situation can lead to frustration for both students and instructors, due not only to the amount of attention devoted to explaining the differences among them, but also to the difficulty of finding cultural material of interest and relevance to students of every national standard. This talk addresses ways to employ folkloric texts such as proverbs, songs, and riddles in language pedagogy in general, and, more specifically, looks at how such texts can serve to bring together the interests of all students in the BCS classroom.
Download Girvin presentation as PDF
Download Girvin handout as PDF

Interweaving Italian Language and Culture through Historically Distant Memories
Marco Prina, GSR, Italian Studies
This presentation provides an Italian example of the challenges faced by L2 instructors attempting to integrate distant historical memories into their curriculum. Meeting this challenge requires the development of activities that contextualize these narratives while bridging the past and the present by engaging with learners’ own values and experiences. Building on this understanding, students can expand their knowledge of both language and culture while at the same time deepening their awareness of their own personal and cultural identity. To this purpose, I propose activities appropriate for first- and second-semester Italian language courses.

UCB Online Chinese Placement Test: Improvements, Implementations and Impediments
Chen-hui Tsai, Lecturer, East Asian Languages and Cultures
The original version of the Chinese placement test at Berkeley was developed ten years ago. With the rapid advancement of web technology as well as instructional changes in the Chinese curriculum, our placement test needed an update. This presentation will describe the process we went through in redesigning the test, including the incorporation of demographic data, a new section assessing cultural knowledge, restructuring the grammar-based questions, and test item validation.


Friday, December 6, 2013
3:00 – 5:00 pm
B-4 Dwinelle Hall

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