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Strategies and approaches to teaching students in a 2nd or 3rd language (Patrick-Andre Mather, Universidad de Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico)

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9:30 AM, Thursday 29 Apr 2021 EDT (30 minutes)
  Virtual session
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Patrick-Andre Mather, Universidad de Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico

Title: Strategies and approaches to teaching students in a 2nd or 3rd language

Keywords: 3rd language acquisition; translanguaging; multilingualism; teaching methodologies


This presentation proposes to investigate how educators in Europe and the Americas deal with a multilingual student base, and seek to mitigate difficulties in acquiring and creating knowledge in a language that the students, and often the professors, have acquired as adults. This language is often English, but within programs such as Erasmus in the European Union, students must often study and read complex material in a third language such as French or Spanish which they do not always master at a satisfactory level. This is also increasingly true in the U.S. and Canada, where both researchers and students are often from non-English speaking backgrounds.

Thus, researchers and educators on both sides of the Atlantic must develop strategies, including translanguaging in the classroom and online resources, that address and acknowledge the bi- and multilingualism of their students, by improving their skills in the target language but also by providing material in other languages and using bilingualism to their advantage, rather than to see it as an obstacle to teaching complex topics at the University level.

This presentation builds on the recognition that teaching and learning excellence must take into account linguistic diversity among both students and faculty at universities on both sides of the Atlantic. To achieve this goal, I review studies from different theoretical perspectives, including linguistic research on 2nd and 3rd language acquisition in the classroom, as well as case studies of specific challenges in teaching content courses in other disciplines, to students whose first language is different from the language of instruction. As such, this presentation is an attempt at bridging research on second/third language acquisition and teaching methodologies for a multilingual student base. It recognizes the need to make the university community more aware of the unique needs of students of different language backgrounds, especially educators who have little formal training in applied linguistics.

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