Monday, March 14, 2016

What Foreign Language Students Need in College: Less Specific Purposes for LSP

by Ann Abbott

I'm looking forward to attending the 3rd International Symposium on Languages for Specific Purposes in Phoenix this week. Not only will I be able to see wonderful colleagues and friends (too many to list here), I always come away from this conference (and the CIBER Business Language conferences that have been folded into this one) with new ideas and renewed energy. 

A quick glance at the conference program, and you can see that many languages are represented, many professions and many approaches. Whenever there are speakers from the professional world, I always take away tidbits of information that I can work into my activities, so I'm happy to see that there is a panel on Friday evening. I also want to learn more about Spanish for the health professions because we have a lot of student demand for that, but no course. (I haven't blogged yet about my student's independent study this semester in which she is working at a local hospital and writing up case studies that I plan to use in my classes in the future to help students understand the complexities of languages, cultures and health encounters.) So I'm happy to see a workshop and sessions about health care.

On Friday I'll be giving a talk over the lunch hour: "Less Specific Purposes for LSP: The Skills Students Need in College." I'm listing below all the resources that I will mention during my talk, kind of a "digital handout" for anyone who wants to follow up on anything I mention.

Part I. What college students need

In college, students cannot predict the vicissitudes of their career paths—even if they feel confident in their vision of their future.

Interviews with my former students show us that their career paths look quite different than they had hoped or imagined.

In the world of work, competencies that denote a broad sense of “professionalism” are prized.

In the literature, a profile of “The Bilingual Professional” emerges across pLrofessions.

  • Soria Colomer, Oregon State University. You can see a list of some of Soria's publications here, These two articles are particularly pertinent: 
    • Colomer, S.E. (2010). Dual role interpreters: Spanish teachers in new Latino communities. Hispania, 93,490-503.
    • Colomer, S.E., & Harklau, L. (2009). Spanish teachers as impromptu translators and liaisons in new Latino communities. Foreign Language Annals, 42, 658-672.
  • Lissette Piedra, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
    • I quoted from: Deirdre LanesskogLissette M. Piedra & Stephanie Maldonado. "Beyond Bilingual and Bicultural: Serving Latinos in a New-Growth Community." Journal of Ethnic & Cultural Diversity in Social Work. 24.4 (2015): 300-317.
    • You might also be interested in the book she co-edited: Buki, Lydia P. and Lissette M.Piedra. Creating Infrastructures for Latino Mental Health. New York: Springer. 2011.
  • Glenn Martinez, The Ohio State University. You can see many of his publications here. I quoted from:
    • Martinez, Glenn. "Against Medical Spanish: Spanish in the Health Professions Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow." ADFL Bulletin 44.1 (2016): forthcoming.

In our survey, another profile emerges: community service learning students who “try on” professions and explore language/career connections.

Rejane Dias (graduate student, University of Illiois) and I surveyed the Illinois students enrolled in Spanish community service learning courses over two years. The results are unpublished so far.

Part II. What we need to teach

L2 Proficiency

Numbers: understanding, saying and manipulating.

Translingual Competence

You can find many intake forms, from many professions in both English and Spanish by doing simple search for "intake forms" in Google Images. (Here's an example in Spanish.)

Transcultural Competence

Inquiry project on public policies and immigration is described fully in my chapter: 
"Civic Engagement and Community Service Learning: Connecting Students’ Experiences to Policy and Advocacy." Creating Experiential Learning Opportunities for Language Students. Eds. Melanie Bloom and Carolyn Gascoigne. Bristol, UK: Multilingual Matters. Forthcoming.

Digital Literacy


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