Socioscientific Issues in LCTLs Classrooms

Project Director: Sunyoung Yang (University of Arizona)
In partnership with the Department of East Asian Studies at the University of Arizona.

Cultural content included in foreign language textbooks has been critiqued by teachers and scholars as being often rather simplistic, ethnocentric (Kramsch, 1987) and assuming homogeneity among users of a language (Liddicoat, 2002). Especially in the case of Less Commonly Taught Languages (LCTLs), FL textbooks tend to primarily invoke an “objectivist-differentialist” logic (Dervin and Liddicoat, 2013) wherein cultures are treated as not only different but irreconcilably different, for example the depiction of US American society as egalitarian and Korean culture as hierarchical, without space for critical reflection. The investigation of socioscientific issues can push learners to contemplate contemporary and comprehensive issues as they manifest both globally and locally, which can be a productive way to develop intercultural communicative competence while fostering purposeful target language use through awareness of turn-taking skills, lexical choice, and how to express disagreement politely. The Socioscientific Issues in LCTL Classrooms project directly addresses this need by creating exemplary materials and curricular models in Korean

This project will create an archive of contemporary SSI issues as they manifest in Korean media and discourses, and will develop, pilot and refine a set of materials for introducing SSI topics into beginning and intermediate LCTLs classrooms—with a focus on Korean language and culture courses. Materials related to the pandemic were produced in Spring 2020, and will be available in conjunction with a webinar in summer 2021. English materials will  be developed in parallel to serve as a model for teachers of other LCTLs.

A webinar centered on this project will take place on June 19, 2021. It presents four semesters of developing SSI curricula and pedagogy to educators of different languages, using Korean as a case study. Detailed instructor guidelines and teaching materials will be presented, so that language educators who are not familiar with STEM education can implement SSIs in their classrooms. See the details for this event here: https://cercll.arizona.edu/event/ssi_lctls/