William Nichols deposited At the Crossroads: Learning to Speak the (Foreign) Language of Higher Education Leadership in the group Language requirements in higher education on Humanities Commons 3 years, 5 months ago
More than ten years have passed since the 2007 MLA Ad Hoc Committee of Foreign Languages report recommended structural and curricular change initiatives to counteract the growing crisis in postsecondary world language education. Almost a decade earlier, Heidi Byrnes had already expounded on the need to replace persistent bifurcated curricular legacy systems in world language education with clearly articulated programs across the entire undergraduate spectrum. To do so, she argued, faculty members at all levels needed to abandon unrealistic and nativist expectations of student proficiency, stop pitting teaching against research, and replace the dictates of a textbook or chosen methodology with well-thought-out curricula. She also urged practitioners to engage in “deep reflection on the value of foreign language study in a collegiate context” to help “learners perform the humanist act of discovering themselves” through the acquisition of multiple literacies (278). If we consider John Kotter’s change theory (1993), world language practitioners have been aware of a sense of urgency to devise and enact change since the 1990s; however, attempts at building a guiding coalition or forming a strategic vision and initiatives have—with few notable exceptions—rarely been enacted or yielded many tangible results at the department level.