Lecture by E. Kearney, April 1, 2016


Erin Kearney, Graduate School of Education, University at Buffalo

Developing Symbolic Competence in Modern Language Classrooms: Expanding Meaning-Making Potentials

Friday, April 1, 2016
The appearance of symbolic competence on the applied linguistics scene has dramatically shifted our thinking about the desired outcomes of language teaching and learning in classrooms. No less significantly, it raises questions about our approach to curriculum and classroom practice. In this talk, I first consider the meaning potentials of symbolic forms and modern language education as the expansion of the meaning-making potentials of people who encounter and use these forms. I then share details of analysis and illustrative video examples from a micro-ethnographic investigation of a university-level French classroom. In this setting, development of symbolic competence was visible in interactional moments and across longer trajectories, as teacher and students engaged in interpreting meaning from textual and other symbolic representations and as they stretched their own meaning-making potentials through creative use of symbolic forms. Moving beyond the insights generated by looking closely at one instructor and her students, I conclude by speculating about what other pedagogical practices and classroom interactions might also support cultivation of symbolic competence and how expansion of meaning-making potentials might look differently in other types of classroom context.

3 – 5 pm
B-4 Dwinelle Hall