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Translingual And Transcultural Competence
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Given the present need to revitalize foreign language education, the Ad Hoc Committee calls for redesigning the major in ways that give students opportunities to read, analyze, and compose a variety of public texts and to gain meta-level knowledge about the particular language that they are studying.10 The Committee speculates that more college students would pursue foreign language learning if "multiple paths to the major" were available; paths that enabled students to connect foreign language study to their learning and professional aspirations in the natural Ed Hardy Clothes and applied sciences, engineering, health and social sciences, or other humanistic disciplines ("Foreign" 238).
More important, as German scholar Heidi Byrnes explains, the upper-division courses of this redesigned foreign language major would include a "formal, linguistic emphasis" ("Perspectives" 285), examining the linguistic and rhetorical resources of the language and learning to use these resources strategically, in literacy theorist James Gee's words, to perform "specific social activities". This agenda for curricular redesign would strengthen foreign language educators' claims that their departments should be important sites of federal investment, because they could show their commitment to developing the advanced linguistic competence required for graduates to address the social, political, and economic demands of an increasingly interconnected world. Even as it reemphasizes advanced literacies as a pedagogical goal, however, the Ad Hoc Committee shifts the aim of foreign language education from teaching students to operate as "native speakers" in the target language to developing "translingual and transcultural competence." This ability to negotiate communication across lines of linguistic difference, the Committee argues, demands that students "learn to comprehend speakers of the target language as members of foreign societies and to grasp themselves as Americansâ€”that is, as members of a society that is foreign to others" ("Foreign" 237). This emphasis on "translingual and transcultural competence" follows from a shift in scholars' research on second-language learners, a shift away from identifying errors that occur because of "interference" between first and second languages and toward developing "complex portraits of the advanced language user," one who possesses "multiple literacies" and enjoys "an exponential increase in choices in multiple cultural and linguistic frameworks" (Byrnes, "Locating" 6).
The Ad Hoc Committee's vision for "translingual and transcultural competence" would lead Ed Hardy Boots to redesigned foreign language courses and curricula that teach students to see foreign language use not as a simple matter of adhering to grammatical rules, but rather as a rhetorical literacy that involves making "culturally and situationally conscious" choices among the linguistic resources available to them in any particular context (Byrnes, "Locating" 5). Translingually and transculturally competent students make such choices, in Byrnes's words, through "broadened and deepened] frames of reference" that enable them to reflect on differences in meaning and worldview among the participants in a communicative exchange.
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