Speaker: Richard Kern

Date of Talk: March 12, 2018

Location: Foster Auditorium

Title and abstract: 

"Five Principles of a Relational Pedagogy: Building on the Social, Individual, and Material Foundations of Language Use"

This talk outlines an approach to language teaching that brings attention to relationships among material, social, and individual dimensions of language use, with particular emphasis on literacy practices. This approach involves reflection on how technologies and mediums influence the design of communication and embody values and fundamental ideas about what communication is. A critical semiotic awareness of how meanings are made, framed, and transformed in particular contexts of language use is essential to twenty-first century learners because they face a singularly pervasive mediascape that is potentially as exploitative as it is emancipatory.

Speaker: Ofelia Garcia

Date of Talk: Feb 15, 2018

Location: 62 Willard

Title and abstract: 

 “A Critical Review of the History of Bilingual Education in the US”

This critical review will look at the promises of the beginning of institutionalized bilingual education in the 20th century, as well as the pitfalls into which it has fallen. We begin with the struggles of the mostly Chicano, Puerto Rican and Native American communities to educate their own children bilingually, and we focus on the support they received from government and scholars outside of the community. We provide evidence from bilingual education programs in NYC run by Latinx educators and parents during the 1970s and early 1980s, where Latinx children were often relegated to basements, but were seen as normal capable children. We compare this early ideology on bilingual education with the one that has been produced as it has been professionalized, and especially as education success started to be measured through standardized tests in English only. From normal children, minoritized children in bilingual education programs today are pathologized. Labels and categories have proliferated: newcomers, long term English language learners, Students with Interrupted Education (SIFE), English language learners with disabilities, Former ELLs. Even though these labels are not helpful to students or teachers, it normalizes the quantification of academic success through standardized assessment instruments that have little validity for this population, taking away their humanity, their childhood, their ability to exist and learn bilingually. The professionalization of bilingual education seems to have worked for white middle class parents who clamor for the so called dual language programs. But it has diminished minoritized Latinx children even beyond the basements in which we found them originally.


Speaker: Terrance Deacon

Date of talk: Friday, Oct 6, 2017 3:00 p.m.- 4:30 p.m.

Title and abstract: 

"Universal Grammar: Neither Nature nor Nurture"

Terrence W. Deacon will discuss some recent work that takes an unprecedented approach to universal grammar and the poverty of the stimulus argument. In his discussion, he will focus on symbolic reference and constraints by investigating four main categories: semiotic constraints, neural processing constraints, evolved sensorimotor schemas and cognitive biases, and pragmatic social communication constraints.