Author: C. Botelho

For those teaching in a non-language discipline, is it possible to incorporate second language acquisition/pedagogy into the cirriculum?  According to Dr. Julian Hermida, the answer is “yes.”  Dr. Hermida argues that just as writing across the disciplines needed to be addressed in undergraduate courses, so too does the teaching and learning of a second language.

Some of the proposed means to accomplish this endeavor  include:

  • Choose a second language (L2) and connect it to your course.

This selection should be based on students’ preferences as well as the instructor’s. It may also be important to consider what resources are available in your community.

  • Start small and introduce changes gradually.

Dr. Hermida suggests starting slow. The class won’t become an immersion class from day one, but he suggests that simply fostering an awareness of the importance of learning a second (or multiple) language can be the first “round.”  Then, work on more concrete plans and activities that will incorporate specific language learning tasks or experiences.  Additionally, it will be important to consider what level you are teaching; with more second language learning taking place as the student progresses to higher course levels.

  • Educate yourself about theories of second language acquisition.

This is not the same as being familiar with learning theories and effective teaching methods. It will require learning about second language acquisition and methods for teaching second languages.

  • Take them out to the field.
  • Hook them up with other L2 learners and native speakers.

Where things become more problematic or lack more explicit details are suggestions such as:

  • Provide input in L2 and Encourage your students to use L2 in class.
  • Help students experiment with L2.

Without the training and understanding in second language acquisition theory and pedagogy, these tasks may prove overwhelming, if not untenable for an instructor, especially if he/she does not speak the second language.  Something not addressed in this article was the idea of partnering with various departments/having instructors collaborate across disciplines.  While some of the suggestions are somewhat “easier said than done,” with proper research and planning, Dr. Hermida’s primary goal of incorporating multilingual practices across disciplines in an effort to promote future student success in a globalized economy is commendable

ᔥ Post 966 on the Tomorrow’s Professor℠ Mailing List. Original author: Dr. Julian Hermida, Department of Law and Politics, Algoma University, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada