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Promoting Languages across the University: Curriculum Reform in Aberdeen LLAS: Future of Language Teaching at University Dr Gundula Sharman, Dundee, 4.

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Presentation on theme: "Promoting Languages across the University: Curriculum Reform in Aberdeen LLAS: Future of Language Teaching at University Dr Gundula Sharman, Dundee, 4."— Presentation transcript:

1 Promoting Languages across the University: Curriculum Reform in Aberdeen LLAS: Future of Language Teaching at University Dr Gundula Sharman, Dundee, 4 th April 2011

2 Language decline, or was it? The old myth! Last Millennium… – 1980s German Department Aberdeen Total Staff: LektorInnen Typical Honours cohort 10-12students 2011 German Department Aberdeen, today Total staff (as of summer) 3 (two 50%) + 2 LektorInnen Honours Cohort 11 students

3 CREF – Curriculum Reform – The context  As a community of intellectuals involved in university teaching, it is our duty to reflect regularly on what we teach and to ensure that it remains relevant and challenging.  This is a fundamental part of our activities and is as much a privilege as a duty. It provides opportunities as well as challenges.  Final Report of the Curriculum Commission, Oct 2008

4 CREF – Graduate Attributes We propose a set of Graduate Attributes. These are designed so that a University of Aberdeen education will enable graduates to become: Academically excellent Critical thinkers and effective communicators Open to learning and personal development, and Active citizens

5 CREF – New curriculum content  Students should normally undertake a programme of Enhanced Study as part of their degree programme.  move from three 20 credit courses to four 15 credit courses each semester.  For single Honours students Enhanced Study would comprise four 15-credit courses (60 credits out of 240) across levels one and two, and two 15-credit courses (30 credits out of 240) across levels three and four.  i.e. 25% of programme comes from Enhanced Study courses – for Single Hons students!

6 CREF – Enhanced Study Options Sixth Century Courses, designed to consider and contrast different approaches to knowledge and different methods of enquiry and, normally, examining real world problems; A small number of Sustained Study Programmes (such as a language or business), comprising normally four separate courses (i.e.level 1 and 2); A selection of Disciplinary Breadth Courses proposed from the University Catalogue of Courses by each Degree Programme Team to ensure that the objectives of Enhanced Study are fulfilled.

7 CREF – 6 th Century Courses  HUMANS AND OTHER ANIMALS  THE HEALTH AND WEALTH OF NATIONS  OCEANS AND SOCIETY  THE MIND MACHINE  FEARSOME ENGINES  THE DIGITAL SOCIETY  RISK AND SOCIETY  SUSTAINABILITY: CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES  NATURAL WORLD  SCIENCE AND THE MEDIA  MANKIND IN THE UNIVERSE

8 CREF – Sustained study of a language  The Sustained Study of a language should normally be available. This would concentrate on language acquisition. The use of the Language Centre would make available teaching in languages far beyond the four currently offered to degree level.  It would be possible to link this language acquisition to a subsequent period of study abroad, through Erasmus or other Exchange arrangements. This is already possible in some areas.  Final report p. 20

9 CREF – Sustained Study Programme  Which languages are on offer?  Gaelic, French, German and Spanish – additional students are accommodated within the degree programme  Arabic and Mandarin – stand alone courses, so far!  Scandinavian Studies (Sep 2011)

10 A few statistics – fantastic growth Totals Total student number taking a language course (Beginner or post-Higher) in winter semester French German Spanish Arabic52 Mandarin70

11 The real winner(s)!

12 Distribution Beg vs post-Higher

13 Who are the students? 2008

14 Who are the students? 2010

15 The experience so far  Teething problems – timetabling and staffing  Resources – promised for course development, but not necessarily for course delivery  What does it mean for the future of ML?

16 Potential areas of concern  Language Departments and the REF?  Emphasis on language acquisition at the cost of the traditional language degree, research-led teaching, study of foreign literatures and cultures?  Struggle for identity. Who are we? And what are our strategic aims?

17 From ML Mission Statement (Draft)  In all of our undergraduate programmes – Gaelic, Film & Visual Culture, French, German, Hispanic Studies, and Linguistics – we are dedicated to producing graduates who demonstrate the attributes to which the University is committed. Not only do we strive for academic excellence in our students, but in so doing, we place great emphasis on the relationship between critical thinking and effective communication, which lies at the heart of language-based study in the arts and humanities. Critical engagement with ethical and moral issues, and with questions of social and cultural diversity in historical and cross- cultural context forms the basis of many of our courses, and enables our students to develop as active citizens. The expansion of language teaching provision facilitated through Sustained Study contributes to the University’s strategic aim of providing opportunities for students at all levels to study overseas. Aberdeen, March 2011

18 Times are changing Too many people prefer old problems to new solutions! We need to believe in ourselves, continue to strive for excellence, and think strategically! Bon courage!


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