Course Spotlight: Theories and Methods of Learning a Less Commonly Taught Language

Course DescriptionColor-Logo-African-Languages-Literature

African Languages & Literature offers a year-long program designed for students to learn languages that are not offered in a typical classroom setting. In the fall, students must enroll in two courses concurrently:

  • African 670: Theories and Methods of Learning a Less Commonly Taught Language

This course is both theoretical and practical. Through reading, discussion, and research, students will explore theories of second language acquisition (SLA) and relate them to self-instructional methods. Each student will test and/or modify one or more theories/methods by putting these self-instructional methods into practice in order to learn a less commonly taught language (LCTL). Students will share their findings in writing and during class discussions, and write a final paper assessing their learning outcomes. This course is intended for those with prior experience in the study of African languages, or advanced study of other foreign languages.

  • African 697: Directed Study of a Less Commonly Taught Language

Monitored self-instruction of a less commonly taught language. Students will meet individually with the instructor. Requires development of an individualized study plan, bibliographic and online research, work with conversation partners online or in the community, and regular self-assessments.

In the spring, students continue in African 697 working independently.

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • Create an individualized study plan for learning a less commonly taught language (LCTL)
  • Find, evaluate, and create learning materials for a LCTL
  • Train a conversation partner to help you learn a language
  • Use the internet to conduct research and share information with others
  • Use metacognitive strategies to evaluate and improve your learning, compare different learning strategies, and style-shift
  • Explain the characteristics of a good language learner according to SLA theories
  • Discuss and write about the application of SLA theories to language self-instruction

Sample Readings

  • Leaver, Betty Lou, Madeline Elizabeth Ehrman, and Boris Shekhtman. Achieving Success in Second Language Acquisition. Cambridge, UK ; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005.
  • Marshall, Terry. The Whole World Guide to Language Learning. Yarmouth, Me: Intercultural Press, 1989.
  • Peace Corps (U.S.). Volunteer on-Going Language Learning Manual: Beyond Hello. [Washington D.C.]: Peace Corps, 2000.

Enrollment Details

African Languages & Literature 670: Theories and Methods of Learning a Less Commonly Taught Language
2 credits
T 1:20-3:15 p.m., 2101 Mosse Humanities Building
Fall 2014

African Languages & Literature 697: Directed Study of a Less Commonly Taught Language
3-5 credits
Independent study
Fall 2014

About the Instructor

Katrina Daly Thompson is an associate professor in African Languages and Literature, affiliated with the doctoral program in Second Language Acquisition (SLA). Her research concerns language, power, and identity in African talk and texts. As the department’s SLA specialist, she supervises instruction in African languages, both in traditional classes taught by TAs and lecturers and through self-directed methods.