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Delivery of Foreign Language Instruction

Overview

While our proposed self-study on writing focuses on student-learning outcomes, the proposed self-study on the delivery of foreign language instruction focuses more on institutional and organizational learning outcomes. For many years, the campus has taken a somewhat unusual approach with regard to the instruction of foreign language. At UCSD, there are no academic units with the sole responsibility for the instruction of foreign languages, i.e., there are no departments such as a Department of French or a Department of Asian Languages. Rather, at UCSD language instruction is a shared responsibility of at least four academic units, Linguistics, Literature, History, and the Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies (IR/PS), who report to three different deans. These units are responsible for teaching multiple languages. For example, the Department of Linguistics instructs the entry-level courses (Language 1 sequences) in languages such as American Sign Language, Arabic, French, German, Hindi, Portuguese, Spanish, as well as the Heritage Language courses. The Department of Literature teaches more advanced language courses (the Language 2 sequences, among others) in these and other languages including Italian, Korean, and Russian. Similarly, the Department of History has the responsibility for the instruction of Chinese, Hebrew, and Japanese through programs in Chinese Studies, Judaic Studies, and Japanese Studies. IR/PS offers undergraduate students the opportunity to learn languages of the Pacific Rim regions on a space-available basis.

This Balkanization of language instruction has proven to be somewhat problematic at a number of levels, not the least of which is the span of language coverage. This issue is of particular importance to Chancellor Fox and Senior Vice Chancellor Chandler, who have determined that international proficiencies will be a significant emphasis in undergraduate education. The degree to which language instruction conforms to contemporary, competency-based standards of language instruction and the degree to which the model will be able to sustain changes in student needs and interests are of paramount concern.

Proposed Actions

In order to assure that foreign language instruction at UCSD is "on the right track" or to make modifications to the current system, a Faculty/Administrative Advisory Committee on Foreign Language Instruction was empanelled and has studied language instruction at UCSD for several quarters. This committee is expected to issue its report within the next few months and make a series of recommendations for the improvement of foreign language instruction. The proposed self-study is designed to focus on the processes of disseminating, evaluating, and implementing the recommendations of that advisory committee. Most importantly, as the advisory committee documents the progress of implementation, it will examine the impact that implementation has upon language instruction from multiple perspectives. These perspectives are:

The view of the student regarding

  • the changing availability of courses,
  • perceived quality of instruction, and
  • changes in elective language-taking behavior;
The view of the instructor regarding
  • the utilization of support services,
  • changes in instructional approaches and methods, and
  • instructor satisfaction;
The view of administration regarding
  • costs,
  • course enrollments, and
  • instructor longevity.