Delicate Balances: The Teaching of Second Languages in Precarious Times
Beginning in the 2006/2007 school year, the learning of a language in addition to English or French will become a required component of Alberta's Grade 4 curriculum in Canada. This requirement will be phased in one grade level each year until 2011/2012, when all Grade 4-9 students will be required to study a second language. Language learning at the Grade 10, 11 and 12 levels will remain optional. Students who wish to continue their language studies will have the opportunity to further develop their skills and knowledge in the language they began to study in Grade 4, and/or begin the study of an additional language in high school. This is an intense, exciting as well as a challenging context for Albertan educators. Keeping in view the goals and objectives set forth by this initiative I would like to discuss some of the challenges that such an endeavour brings forth for teacher preparation programs such as the inquiry based MT program at the University of Calgary. It provides us with a motivation for looking at second language acquisition as a way to commence studies in diversity. It may provide a foundation from which our teacher education students can develop inclusive practices in their pedagogy. It should provide a base from which our student (teachers) develop a more inclusive perspective in working with children and their families. The government of Alberta has initiated work on a common curriculum framework for teaching International languages. This curriculum is being developed in different languages. The Humanities conference forum on The Nature of the Social would be an opportunity to discuss various meanings of this emerging curriculum such as conceptions of Global Citizenship, and the development of intercultural competence(s), in their relations to economic globalization and worldwide diversity/culture/language loss.
Keywords: Second language learning, Second language teaching, Teacher preparation, Diversity, Culture, Language loss
Dr Rahat Naqvi
Assistant Professor, Second Language Pedagogy, Division of Teacher Preparation, Faculty of Education , University of Calgary