Workshop Series on Teaching Foreign Languages

Organized by the Sheridan Center and the Center for Language Studies (CLS), this series is designed to bring graduate student instructors, teaching associates and faculty together to explore various aspects of foreign language pedagogy.  The series is offered regularly, but topics vary from year to year.  Descriptions of recently offered workshops are below.  Check Upcoming Events for current offerings.

Contemplative Approaches to Foreign Language Teaching
Led by Senior Lecturer Tori Smith (Hispanic Studies), this workshop explored practices - and some of the science that supports them - that help sutdents "tune" their minds for better language learning.

Designing an Advanced Language Course Based on Gastronomy (aka “French for Foodies”)
Led by Senior Lecturer Annie Wiart (French Studies), this workshop explored how to design an advanced language course with specific cultural content (gastronomy) relevant to both the target culture and the personal interests of students (as revealed by the immense popularity of culinary TV programs, networks, blogs etc.).

Developing Listening & Viewing Comprehension Skills in High Novice & Intermediate Level Courses
Led by Ruth Adler Ben-Yehuda (Hebrew/Judaic Studies), this workshop introduced listening and viewing strategies to help students comprehend listening input and enable them to communicate in the target language.  

Effective Task Design for Communicative Language Teaching
When and how can language instruction be "task-based"? Lynne deBenedette (Slavic Languages) led a two-part workshop focused on the nuts and bolts of implementing task-based teaching (TBT).  Beginning with reflection on common definitions of task, participants learned what makes an effective task, and noted how TBT can help integrate work on topical /cultural content with work on language / linguistic content. Participants then worked on transforming typical communicative activities into tasks and created at least one task for their own classroom use.

Enhancing Translation Skills through Multimedia Projects 
Led by Stephanie Ravillon (French Studies), this workshop explored strategies for using technology to enhance translation skills and develop translingual and transcultural competence.

Incorporating Film into Intermediate-Level Language Courses
Led by Chinese lecturer Wang Yang, this workshop introduced effective strategies for using film in intermediate-level courses to help students develop narrative competence.

Music as Cultural Supplements to Language Classes
Using songs can be an effective way to enrich language classes with cultural content. In this workshop led by Arabic lecturer Ziad Bentahar, participants explored ways of incorporating music in a language curriculum, and discussed questions such as: Does a song have to be “culturally relevant” to be pedagogical pertinent, and how is cultural relevance measured? What are the advantages of using music compared than other means (films, lectures, etc…) to teach about culture? Does teaching through songs come at the expense of some aspects of language instruction (such as grammar and syntax for example), or can these be combined?  

Practical Techniques for Teaching Vocabulary and Grammar
This two-part workshop led by CLS Director Elsa Amanatidou (Classics) focused on activities and exercises aimed at introducing or reviewing vocabulary and grammar.  Participants learned about and practiced strategies and techniques ranging from concordance sheets to web-based interactive tasks, and from open-ended games to structured and guided writing and conversation.  Participants were thus be able to vary and enhance their approach to teaching vocabulary and grammar and, as a result, maximize language gains.

Re-Mapping the Métro: Cultural Acquisition through Technology
Led by Valentine Balguerie (French Studies) and Sylvain Montalbano (French Studies), this workshop explored how tools such as Google Maps and Google Earth can foster student engagement with a foreign culture, both inside and outside of the classroom, and enable the creation of a class-based database in the target language.

Teaching Reading Comprehension through Literature
Led by Arabic lecturer Mohammed Al-Sharkawi, this workshop focused on the benefits of using literary texts for reading comprehension exercises in language classes at all levels and provided strategies for selecting and using such texts.