Foreign Language Literacies: Using Target Language Texts to Improve Communication

July 19–23, 2021
Synchronous* 1-week summer institute

Kate Paesani and Mandy Menke

Preparing students to participate in multilingual and multicultural communities entails shifting the way we approach language instruction. How do we move beyond teaching students to order coffee or talk about weekend activities, and instead encourage them to think critically and reflectively about language, culture, and communication? To answer this question, this institute focuses on how to develop students' foreign language literacies—or the ability to interpret and create different kinds of discourse—through engagement with target language texts such as movies, infographics, poetry, music videos, magazine articles, podcasts, and the like.

Using conceptual and pedagogical understandings gained during the institute, participants will examine and assess target language texts for use in their classrooms and create text-based instructional materials that develop students' communicative abilities, critical thinking, intercultural competence, and language awareness.

Program Schedule (9am–4pm)
Day 1
  • Building Conceptual Understanding: Foreign Language Literacies, Texts, and Communication
Day 2
  • Working with Texts: Moving Beyond Experiencing
Day 3
  • Connecting Form and Meaning: Focus on Conceptualizing
Day 4
  • Exploring Cultural Practices and Perspectives: Focus on Analyzing
Day 5
  • Assessing Student Learning: Focus on Applying
  • Materials Sharing, Reflection, and Wrap-Up

After this institute, you will be able to:

  • Define principles related to foreign language literacies and literacies pedagogy and discuss their importance in twenty-first century language education;

  • Apply principles related to foreign language literacies and literacies pedagogy to your own teaching;

  • Examine target language texts and instructional materials, and assess their appropriateness for your instructional context; and

  • Create text-based instructional materials that develop students' communicative abilities, critical thinking, intercultural competence, and language awareness.


Kate Paesani is Director of CARLA and affiliate Associate Professor in the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Minnesota. A former French professor and language program director, she has delivered workshops and lectures across the United States on topics related to text-based teaching and learning, foreign language literacies development, and teacher professionalization.

Mandy Menke is Associate Professor of Hispanic Linguistics at the University of Minnesota. She is a specialist in Spanish language acquisition by both child and adult learners and has delivered professional development workshops for university instructors and immersion teachers.

Target Audience
This institute is designed for foreign language and ESL teachers at the middle school through the postsecondary level, as well as teacher educators, curriculum coordinators, and language program directors. This institute is not intended for elementary school teachers or immersion educators.


  • This synchronous online institute will run from 9 am-4 pm (Central Time). The schedule includes many synchronous presentations throughout the day as well as time for independent or partner/group work and a break for lunch.
  • You must be available to participate for the entire day Monday—Friday.
  • Make sure you can meet the tech requirements for this institute.
  • While this institute will be offered online in 2021, we intend to offer it face-to-face in 2022. If you can only take it online, you are encouraged to enroll this summer.
Quote MarksRight quote marksThis is the ideal institute to take if you are looking to build up your toolbox for student engagement, critical thinking, analysis and fun! Novice to experienced educators will leave the course with great experiences, knowledge, curriculum building practice and connections with colleagues near and far.
Ver—nica Guevara, 2020 Participant


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