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The presenter will describe a cross-cultural course, Language in Human Life, designed to meet several university needs: 1) To provide a course for non-majors that fulfills a long-standing gap in general education courses at the presenter’s institution that introduce students to linguistic thought, 2) to be a magnet course for speakers of English as an additional language in order to allow all students to learn about each others’ languages, and 3) to offer a linguistically accessible course for lower-proficiency users of English that is taught by an instructor with ESL expertise but that fulfills a university requirement for all students.

Many U.S. colleges and universities offer general education courses in linguistics: Language and Mind, Language in Society, etc. More institutions are now serving the needs of multilingual learners of English by creating courses that draw on their expertise as multilingual students, allowing those institutions to move away from the still prevalent “deficit” model of language-learning, which depends too heavily on a monolingual native speaker as the standard to which nonnative speakers are always compared (and usually are thought to fall short). Language in Human Life asks students to explore—among other topics—code-switching, sociolinguistic norms in different languages, and the prevalence of prescriptivist ideologies and their relation to socioeconomic class or perceived ethnic, gender, or regional superiority. Enrollment is controlled to ensure a majority of multilingual students, who can then work in cross-linguistic groups with monolingual students to gather data from each others’ languages and develop a community of inquiry.

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Course documents related to this presentation (LSA Member Login required):

Language Beliefs Questionnaire--

Language Background Questionnaire--

Terms of Address Assignment--

Linguistic Presentation--

Language Journal--