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Archived Content from Conference Held in May 2003 

Creating Teacher Community:
Third International Conference on Language Teacher Education


Summary of Keynote Presentation:
"What language teachers need to know"

Claire Kramsch, University of California-Berkeley, May 29, 2003

The knowledge base of language teachers used to be simple: they needed to know how to explain the grammar, how to speak and write the language with relative accuracy and fluency, and how to explain the foreign national culture. In the last twenty years, this knowledge base has grown exponentially. Teachers now are asked to develop not only the linguistic, but also the communicative, and even the intercultural competence of their students; they have to be able to analyze and interpret their own and the foreign culture; they have to know something about pragmatics, sociolinguistics, ethnography, literacy, stylistics, discourse and conversation analysis; they have to be familiar with the latest research in SLA, applied linguistics and foreign language methodology. This paper attempts to take stock of what language teachers can reasonably be expected to know when entering the profession, and what they should plan on acquiring over the course of their professional lives.



Claire Kramsch
Professor, Department of Language and Literacy, Society, and Culture,
University of California-Berkeley

Claire Kramsch’s area of research is applied linguistics and second language acquisition, as well as language pedagogy. She is the director of the Berkeley Language Center. In 2000 she received both UC Berkeley’s Distinguished Teaching Award and the Distinguished Service Award from the Modern Language Association. In 1998 the Federal Republic of Germany bestowed on her the Goethe Medal in recognition of her work in fostering intercultural dialogue. Her writings deal with various aspects of the acquisition of language in discourse, language and culture, pragmatics, aesthetics, and hermeneutic approaches to language learning. In 1994 her book, Context and Culture in Language Teaching (1993), won the MLA’s Kenneth Mildenberger Prize for Outstanding Research Publication in the Field of Foreign Languages and Literatures. The book is a pioneering attempt to reconceptualize the teaching of foreign languages as the crossing of cultural boundaries. She edited Language Acquisition and Language Socialization: Ecological Perspectives (2002) and Redefining the Boundaries of Language Study (1996), and co-edited Text and Context: Cross-Disciplinary Perspectives on Language Study (1992), a first exploration into the various disciplinary strands that make up the study of a foreign language. Her other books include Language and Culture (1998); Foreign Language Research in Cross-Cultural Perspective (co-editor, 1991); Reden, Mitreden, Dazwischenreden: Managing Conversations in German (1990); Interaction et discours dans la classe de langue (1984); and Discourse Analysis and Second Language Teaching (1981).


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