What place for scholarship in university language learning and teaching?
Rita Balestrini & Chiara Cirillo, University of Reading - Download slides here
As the emergence of new theories of learning and teaching gives rise to new pedagogies, and 'scholarship of learning and teaching' (Biggs & Tang, 2011) becomes established in British universities, there are increased expectations for these pedagogies to inform the classroom. How do university language professionals reconcile these demands with the confines of their mostly part-time, often hourly-paid, roles?
In recent decades, Languages as a university subject has changed significantly in response to ‘environmental’ requirements and so too, the pattern of foreign language provision. Languages are studied in Modern Languages departments or in Language Centres, as part of degrees or free-standing modules. However, despite these changes, some assumptions from which the ‘culture’ of the discipline (Becher, 2001) initially developed, continue to hold sway and the dichotomy between language and content, language skills and cultural knowledge, although questioned by some (Quist, 2000; Gieve & Cunico, 2012), is still reflected in the social organisation of its practitioners, the structure of curricula, and the different ways language teaching is delivered. In this presentation, we will explore to what extent this dualism hinders the scholarship of language learning and teaching and affects the academic identity and career development of language professionals on teaching-focused contracts, providing an overview of the national context and a case study of the University of Reading.