When I asked Co-Director Sarab Al Ani to tell me what inspired her approach to the teaching of Methodologies of Modern Language Teaching (SPAN 790), she cited Mark Van Doren’s view that “The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery.” Indeed, the art of teaching is built on continual learning and reflection, which can give way to discovery about oneself, how people learn, our role in the profession, the relationship between teaching and research, and the communities to whom we are accountable.
In approaching the task of creating a new methods course, we envisioned the course as a foundational one in graduate students’ training in the teaching of second language acquisition (SLA). In our conversation about the course with Nelleke Van Deusen-Scholl, Director of the Center for Language Study (CLS) at Yale, we agreed that graduate training is an ongoing process that begins with the methods course and continues throughout graduate students’ education.
The course offers solid familiarity with the main approaches, methods, and principles that have been widely used to teach second languages in the 20th and 21st centuries. Its successful completion prepares students for pursuit of the CLS Certificate in Second Language Acquisition, which immerses them in cutting edge pedagogies that include post-communicative and multiliteracies approaches.
The collaborative endeavor of creating a new course was the outcome of Al Ani’s extensive knowledge of SLA and my learning and experience with course design. (Thanks to the folks at CLS for this year’s amazing Brown-bag series of curriculum design!) Using Backward Design, Al Ani and I began by determining the goals and student learning objectives (SLOs). The latter were informed by research I carried out on methods courses in forward-looking programs at Yale and at peer institutions. Al Ani selected the majority of the readings and I designed the assessments in alignment with the SLOs.
I'd like to thank Van Deusen-Scholl for meeting with Al Ani and me to discuss how the methods course could serve as the foundation for graduates students wishing to further develop their language and culture teaching. I also appreciate the input I received from Sarah Glenski, a former graduate student whose perspective helped us appreciate the graduate student point of view.
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