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Collaborating To Design A Multilingual Rhetorical Education

By Author: Alex Lee
Total Articles: 367

As the federal government began declaring a national "language crisis," the MLA Executive Committee appointed an Ad Hoc Committee on Foreign Languages to create an agenda for MLA members' research, pedagogy, curriculum and institutional design, and political advocacy that would present "persuasive alternatives to security-driven approaches" to foreign language education. The MLA created this committee, in part, to critique the security-centered vision of foreign language education, but also because the association's leadership realized that colleges could do a better job of Thomas Sabo Sterling Silver graduating a greater number of students possessing advanced skills in multiple languages.

Many scholars acknowledge that, in the words of Gilles Bousquet, "if traditional foreign language curriculum and governance do not evolve" to begin fulfilling the nation's language needs, "[government] leaders will Joolc elsewhere for language education". Foreign language studies' new disciplinary agenda presents English teachers with a tremendous opportunity for collaboration, as the Ad Hoc Committee calls for interdisciplinary research and pedagogical collaboration as one strategy for developing students' advanced competencies in target languages. English scholars can read the Ad Hoc Committee's 2007 report, Foreign Languages and Higher Education: New Structures for a Changed World, as a means to invent rhetorical strategies for collaborating with their colleagues in foreign languages to create a multilingual writing pedagogy and rhetorical education. This interdisciplinary collaboration would begin the important work that Horner and Trimbur call for in redefining college writing practices as being not in English only. Equally as important, this collaboration could lead to local, institutional-level efforts to revitalize language learning for the sake of a broad range of humanistic values.

The MLA Ad Hoc Committee calls for making foreign language study more relevant in this present moment of "language crisis" by creating a curriculum that develops students' advanced competencies in foreign languages, whereas emphasis on language pedagogy has long been given to the lower-level language courses taken by a greater number of college students. Too many upper-division courses, the Committee argues, focus solely on the practices of reading and interpreting literary texts as a form of cultural and aesthetic appreciation ("Foreign" 236). In so doing, these courses do not "explicitly advance [students'] language competency" (MLA Ad Hoc Committee, "Transforming" 290).

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