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Whose ‘Crisis in Language’? Translating and the Futurity of Foreign Language Learning

  • Author(s): Gramling, David J;
  • Warner, Chantelle
  • et al.

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This contribution questions to whom and to whose learning experience has the idiom of crisis that so pervades the domain of U.S. foreign language teaching been addressed. The authors report on an advanced foreign language classroom-based study from 2013, in which undergraduate German learners translated a 14-page prose poem about translingual experience—“Das Klangtal” (“The Sound Valley”) by British-Austrian poet and translator Peter Waterhouse (2003). The course—located at a university in the American Southwest—created an opportunity for the students and the instructor to reflect on a constellation of relations—transdisciplinarity, translingualism, and transcontextuality—often perceived under the aegis of a “crisis” of the subject. Through an analysis of the students’ reflections as translators, readers, and languagers, the study considers the different orders of recognition by which the learners in this class positioned themselves as multilingual subjects. Based on this case study, the authors argue that transdisciplinary practices and translingual pedagogies such as translation can and should be integrated into L2 classrooms in order to create opportunities for collaborative reflective practice between teachers and learners, which would enable educators to step out of their own habitual ways of speaking about foreign language learning.


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