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Archived Content from Conference Held in June 2005 

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Voice and Vision in Language Teacher Education:

2005 Conference on Language Teacher Education

Summary of Theme IV Plenary Presentation:
"Re-sourcing the content of language teacher's knowledges: A sociocultural literacy approach"

Heidi Byrnes, Georgetown University

In this paper I continue the exploration of the knowledge base of teacher education that has been a prominent contribution of the Minnesota conferences. I will begin by linking Kramsch's interpretation of the teacher as intercultural mediator who possesses several forms of savior with the stance taken by Tarone and Allwright who strongly argue for the presence of the learner and the validity of SLA research findings as part of the content of teacher's knowledge base. While these and many other recent proposals either explicitly support a sociocultural view of language or, at the very least, consider it a valuable point of departure, they lack a principled way for linking knowing and languaging. By extension, they lack a way of affecting the work called teaching and the work called learning in a way that would facilitate what Gee calls the development of social languages or, more broadly, multiple literacies. I will explore these issues by explicitly relating socioculturally derived forms of literacy with theories of language that understand the nature of language, and therefore also the acquisition of native and second or foreign languages, as being functional with respect to human needs arising in diverse communicative situations. In particular, I will consider how certain features of the language of schooling can exemplify how a re-sourcing of the content of teacher knowledge (see Stein 2004) might secure the benefits of stable educational Discourses and praxes while also assuring for learners the desired agency and access to various Discourses and shifting identities that characterize contemporary multicultural and multilingual societies. At the same time the functional and situated character of language use would also provide a basis for a visible language-based pedagogy that can support students' capacity to expand their discursive resources in native as well as second or foreign languages.

Heidi Byrnes

Professor, Department of German, Georgetown University

Heidi Byrnes (Ph.D., Georgetown University) is Professor of German at Georgetown University where she has been a full-time faculty member since 1977. Her research focus is the acquisition of academic literacy in a second language by adult instructed learners, including heritage learners, from curricular, pedagogical, and assessment perspectives.

She was chair of the German Department between 1987 and 1993 and served as Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs for Georgetown University from 1993-95.

Under her initiative the German Department revamped its undergraduate program, entitled "Developing Multiple Literacies," by using the notion of literacy and the construct of genres in order to link content and language acquisition within an integrated curricular sequence that uses genre-based pedagogies and approaches to assessment in order to facilitate advanced L2 learning and teaching. Recently she co-edited a volume entitled "Advanced foreign language learning: A challenge to college programs" and chaired the 2005 Georgetown University Round Table on Languages and Linguistics, with its theme "Educating for advanced foreign language capacities: Constructs, curriculum, instruction, assessment." She has published in the major professional journals and has been active in numerous professional organizations. She has been recognized with the Outstanding Educator Award of the American Association of Teachers of German, the Distinguished Service in the Profession Award by the Association of Departments of Foreign Languages, and ACTFL's Nelson Brooks Award for her contributions to the foreign language profession.

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