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Bridging Contexts, Making connections

Featured Speaker

Equipping Teachers to be Language Explorers

Elaine Tarone, University of Minnesota


Explorers are problem-solvers who are well-equipped to discover and thrive in previously-unknown territory. This presentation will make the case that preparing language teachers entails equipping them with the tools of language analysis that they will need to become language explorers. Language teacher education is not a matter of merely transmitting facts to passive teacher minds; it is primarily a matter of equipping teachers to analyze language in continuously new settings so as to develop creative and effective environments for language learning.

In some teacher development textbooks and programs, the teacher’s knowledge base relating to language and second language acquisition (SLA) is conceptualized as consisting of a body of facts that teachers must memorize in order to ‘demonstrate learning’ by repeating those facts on exams. “Here are the grammar rules of the second language: memorize them. Here are the SLA researchers and their findings: memorize them.” But this way of operationalizing the language and SLA knowledge base does not provide language teachers with the ability to research and resolve new language learning issues in their classrooms. The presenter makes the case that every language teacher’s knowledge base should include, not just knowledge ABOUT language and SLA, but the ability to USE this knowledge creatively to resolve learning and assessment problems, and to explore interesting questions as these arise in the local classroom. She shows an example introductory SLA class that moves beyond a survey of published research to develop teachers’ abilities to examine the language learning processes of their own students and to relate their findings to pedagogical decision-making.

Plenary PowerPoint (PPt Show .pps) - right-click, save, then open

Photo of Elaine TaroneElaine E. Tarone
Professor, Program in English as a Second Language
Director, Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition
University of Minnesota

Elaine Tarone is the Director of the Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA). She is also Professor and Head of the English as a Second Language Program in the Institute of Linguistics, English as a Second Language, and Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of Minnesota. Professor Tarone's research publications focus on the impact of social context on learner language and second language acquisition. She has published work on interlanguage variation, learners' interactions in immersion classrooms, the communication strategies used by second language learners, language play, and genre analysis. She is a recipient of the College of Liberal Arts Distinguished Teaching Award, and the University of Minnesota Award for Outstanding Contributions to Postbaccalaureate, Graduate, and Professional Education.


Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA) • 140 University International Center • 331 - 17th Ave SE • Minneapolis, MN 55414