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Languages Across the Curriculum

In pursuit of CLA’s goal to create a sustainable model for integrating advanced levels of foreign-language proficiency within specific disciplines or interdisciplinary majors, the Language Center is pleased to be working with CLA’s Committee on Second Language Education (ComSLE) to contribute to the internationalization of the University’s curriculum by supporting the application of Languages Across the Curriculum (LAC).

The guiding principle of the LAC movement is to provide students with opportunities to apply their acquired linguistic skills academically beyond the traditional language classroom. To this end, the Language Center works with faculty in a number of departments and programs to support the development of materials and approaches that allow students to do academic work in their chosen language.

CIC CourseShare, another current Language Center focus, has the potential to help its member institutions build their LAC offerings. In addition, the Language Center’s professional development initiatives, especially as regards hybrid teaching and innovative assessment models, have much to contribute in terms of fostering best practices in LAC.

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What are the general characteristics of LAC?

  • A focus on communication and content
  • An emphasis on developing meaningful content-focused language use outside traditional language classes
  • An approach to language use and cross-cultural skills as means for the achievement of global intellectual synthesis, in which students learn to combine and interpret knowledge produced in other languages and in other cultures

-- from CLAC website

What does LAC look like?

In practice, CLAC takes a wide variety of forms, including but not limited to the following:

  • Linked language and content courses or content courses with specially designed language modules
  • Content courses taught entirely or partially in languages other than English
  • Co-taught courses in which content is infused with an international perspective
  • Large lecture courses with break out or discussion sessions that are conducted in and include the use of materials in a variety of languages, facilitated by graduate or advanced undergraduate native speakers
  • Discussion sections that are conducted in English but actively incorporate intercultural perspectives (perhaps through the use of English language materials produced in non-English speaking countries)
  • Study abroad programs that actively and reflectively link together linguistic and cultural experiences from the classroom, the home-stay, and all parts of daily life in the host country

-- from CLAC website

What will LAC look like at the University of Minnesota?

The Language Center and ComSLE are working on a number of fronts to offer the advantages of LAC in ways that are minimally intrusive to ongoing academic structures and cost-neutral:

  • Incorporation into second-year language courses (especially fourth-semester) of free-standing teaching units developed in consultation with faculty who are native speakers of languages other than English and who teach in non-language departments and even other colleges: journalism, management, environmental sciences, etc.
  • Development and identification of courses, both within and beyond traditional language departments, that address many of the options listed above.
  • Exploitation of the opportunities and efficiencies afforded by CIC CourseShare to provide students with access to content courses taught in languages other than English.

For more information on LAC or to volunteer to help develop a new unit or course, please contact the Language Center.