It’s time to rethink how foreign languages are taught at universities

Last Updated: 27 Mar 2019

Source: The Conversation, February 28, 2019

Many people underestimate the difficulty involved in learning a language. This is because language acquisition goes beyond comprehension. It also involves socialisation and emotion. The high level of personal engagement this requires is even more challenging at South African universities, where students are struggling to meet the demands of academic life.

This situation has compelled many educators such as myself, teaching in the field of French and Francophone studies at Witwatersrand University, to reflect on our teaching practice.

The broad aim of language education is to communicate independently in a foreign language. This is based on the premise that language skills learned in classrooms are easily transferable to real-life situations, and that students will be proficient at the end of a language programme. But this isn’t the case and results almost always fall short of this expectation. Read more... >>>>>