Workshop on Language and Culture

Working at the Intersection of Language and Culture in the Digital  Age: practical approaches to the pedagogy of cultural learning

A workshop organized by Shoggy Waryn (French Studies, Brown University) and the Center for Language Studies at Brown University with Support from The Consortium for Language Teaching and Learning and the Center for Language Studies (CLS, Brown)

Date:  October 5th 2013, 8:30 am-6:00 pm

Venue: ECT lab 201, CIT WATSON BUILDING, 366 Brook Street, Brown University, Providence.

“Language in itself is a product of culture.  It serves not only as a conduit of a large number of cultural messages but, in its very structure and vocabulary, it carries messages from the society to the individual and vice-versa.  Knowing how to designate, name, identify, combine concepts through the use of the words that support them represents a type of cultural channel…”     —  A. Moles, Sociodynamics of Culture. Paris. Editions Mouton, 1967.

While sociologists and linguists have long understood the relationship between culture and language, the push to make culture more central in our pedagogical practices and teaching methodologies has been a more recent development . The availability of new communication technologies has given rise to new approaches for teaching culture, from textbook content to classroom practices with new learning objects, new goals and new tools.

The aim of the proposed workshop is practical: by examining various approaches and modalities of cultural and intercultural learning through the prism of current pedagogical practices, we seek to redefine the goals of “cultural/intercultural” teaching and reassess the role of the teacher/facilitator within this new world of technological possibilities.

The questions are: How do we define transcultural competence and how do we assess progress when most of the learning occurs outside the classroom, in incremental and almost “invisible” ways?  A related question we will explore is to define the new role of the teacher in this fundamentally changed paradigm.

By bringing together a group of teachers who use a variety of approaches and tools to bring cultural and transcultural competence to the forefront of their teaching practices, this conference aims at fostering exchange and practices that may be applicable across a range of languages, both commonly and less commonly taught, and at all levels of the language curriculum.