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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Teaching Language

Unlike a few of my colleague, I don't think teaching language and composition is beneath me. It is true that I am a scholar of literature, and not of language, but I find advanced level language courses to be very rewarding. Not being a linguist does not hold me back. Most of the students want to improve their level of Spanish language, and this occurs both in literature classes and in those devoted to the language itself. Literature classes are also language classes, in fact.

This semester I have two advanced language courses, and it frees my literature mind entirely for my own research.


Spanish prof said...

I hate teaching composition, but I love teaching intermediate and upper level language classes.

cinemanovo said...

Like composition, can't stand basic language. If you don't teach multi section language courses at a poor school, don't say it's easy or that people who don't like it find it "beneath" them ... or if you WOULD like to do it come right on down, I and several others are teaching overloads due to understaffing and we could use help now!

It's: the fact of it being required and resented by students; the textbook wars; the administration of the online workbooks; the methodology wars; etc.

To me it also feels so far out of field - I'm also such a language sponge, me, that I can't tell students to do homework with a straight face (I always studied, me, but not in the way assigned, which meant sacrificing the homework percentage of the grade).

It's also the drainingness of it -- it requires a lot of intense personal interaction with every student to do right. And I have *4* sections of language classes right now, 3.5 preps: 1 of Spanish 2, 1 of Spanish 3 without multimedia, 1 of Spanish 3 with multimedia, and 1 of Portuguese comp.

Plus then a new senior/graduate course closer to field but that I've never taught, and the materials aren't in yet (except those SpanishProf sent and a colleague brought). So yeah, esp. with that last one being so new and unweildy I'd rather the other ones be closer in to what I do more easily.

I also never majored in a national language department and didn't TA a lot in that, maybe I just don't relate enough to FL teaching. My natural default to freshman classes is English comp. and I'm more interested in it. I like to *take* foreign language classes. I appreciate SLA and so on I just get bored Coming UP With Fun Activities and so on as the main focus of the day.

Comp and advanced grammar are one thing and yes, they're easy preps, the way the junior level lit surveys are. Basic language just isn't (note: you have to make all those a/v materials, too, if you don't have smart rooms, buy the transparencies and what not, so there's a lot of hidden secretarial work and cost involved too!

Jonathan said...

Those were colleagues in my own dept. where senior fac don't teach basic language.

cinemanovo said...

I am on a hair trigger about this issue, however, as I have senior colleagues nearer by who claim that truly serious scholars like to teach the first course in field *best*, and that the best researchers *need* to be the ones teaching that course, and that that course is Foreign Language 1.

Jonathan said...

that seems silly It's fine if you like teaching it,but it's a dogmatic position to say everyone should.

profacero said...

Yes, it's silly, but really common. "Because he has a PhD, he thinks he is too good to teach 5 sections of comp" is the most common and it is interesting rhetorically. "5 classes is a lot" is disallowed; "5 sections of comp is depressing grading" is disallowed; "He has a research assignment and wants time for it" is disallowed; what is allowed is "He thinks he is too good to" and this is a coercive way of framing the issue, Bourdieu and Aristotle both probably have terms for it, from their respective fields.

But, this is the sort of thing they say to beat people down / get them to be complicit in their own oppression!!! Because of course it isn't that they really believe it, it's that they need to convince themselves and others that pressing people into over service is noble!!!