This introductory class to the MATESOL program is designed to familiarize students with key concepts and theories in the field of Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) and their implications for classroom teaching. What is language and how is it acquired? What does it mean to learn a language? What are some of the social, cultural, historical, and political factors that shape that learning? What is the nature of bilingualism? Multicompetence? Translanguaging? These are just some of the questions that we will be exploring in this course, an introduction to the rich complexities surrounding language acquisition.
We will open the semester learning about some foundational concepts within second language acquisition (SLA) theory, for instance universal grammar (UG), the monitor model, and critical period hypotheses. We will then examine some of the key epistemological issues and theoretical tensions and debates that have emerged historically within the field, approaching our exploration from linguistic, psycholinguistic, sociolinguistic, sociocultural, and critical perspectives. Later on in the course, we will examine how understandings about second language acquisition have been shaped by recent influences from disciplines other than linguistics and psychology, most notably education, sociology, anthropology, and cultural studies, and we will reflect critically on how we use language in teaching, in learning, and in negotiating who we are in various contexts. In all topics we discuss, we will consider how these ideas inform our beliefs about language teaching and shape our images of the teachers we want to be.