LAC Models

Languages Across The Curriculum:
An Overview of Course Models

Bruce T. Holl

Trinity University LAC Workshop

May 18, 2009

San Antonio, Texas

  • A full version of this report, including a list of Works Cited, will be available on the web site
  • My intention today is to provide an overview of the various LAC models that have been used (or in some cases proposed) at schools and universities around the world.
  • There are generally two approaches to LAC. Some institutions have chosen one model and used it exclusively.
  • Others have created courses based on many models or combinations of models, on the assumption that any use of language outside of the traditional language/literature format furthers the goal of using languages across the curriculum.
  • Trinity is in the latter category, which (as I’ll explain) is in keeping with current trends in higher education and has even garnered us some national recognition, so I urge prospective teachers to keep an open mind about which mode r models might be applicable in their teaching.

I American LAC Models

The one credit course in the target language, taught in conjunction with a three credit English-language course.

  • This is the model that at one time was used most frequently at Trinity.
  • The same teacher can teach both courses, or a teacher from the foreign language department can teach the adjunct course in collaboration with a colleague from another department.
  • It includes one of my own courses: A one-credit course in Russian appended to a three-credit English-language culture course entitled “The Peoples of Russia.”
  • The English course deals with Russia, Siberia, the Caucasus and the Jews of Russia
  • The one credit course includes a reading or readings from each area and a meeting once a week, conducted in Russian, to discuss the readings.
  • The one credit course in a department other than Modern Languages and Literatures, taught in conjunction with a three credit content-based course in the foreign language department
  • This is a model suggested by Frank Ryan of Brown University that to my knowledge has never been taught (Next Steps 24)
  • For example, Sarah Burke, Professor of Russian at Trinity, teaches a three-credit History of
    the Russian Language course that might include a one-credit adjunct linguistics course.

The parallel (or interlocking) course model

  • According to Gail Riley of the American University and Frank Ryan of Brown, this model “consists of two independent courses, one in a language and the other in another discipline … Students enroll in both courses, and faculty collaborate to ensure some overlap in texts, activities and expected outcomes” (Riley &Ryan, Next Steps 22).

The three credit stand-alone course in the target language

  • This is course for advanced students taught entirely in the target language
  • Dr. Dante Suarez of Trinity’s Business Administration Department teaches such a course entitled “Haciendo negocios en Latinoamérica”

The three credit stand-alone bilingual course.

  • Dr. David Spener of Trinity’s Sociology Department has developed such a course.
  • The course is entitled Relaciones Frontieras EE.UU.-México/Mexico-U.S. Border Relations.
  • The course requires the same level of Spanish as our upper-division Spanish courses.
  • Readings and discussions are in both languages.
  • The rationale for the course is to provide, as he says, a “transborder perspective,” which requires both languages.

The one credit stand-alone course in the target language

  • A number of these course have been taught at Trinity.
  • Dr. Carlos Ardavin (Spanish), Dr. Rita Urquijo-Ruiz (Spanish), and Dr. Nanette LeCoat, (French), among others, have developed versions of this model.
  • Dr. Bladi Ruiz (Spanish) Dr. Kelly Lyons (Biology) have received grants to develop new courses this summer
  • Dr. Ardavin’s course is an interdisciplinary survey of the history and culture of the Dominican Republic.
  • Dr. Martinez’s course is a survey of Latin American history though music.
  • Dr. LeCoat’s course is an examination of French history through historical films.

The one credit introductory language course for students in other disciplines

  • This includes the course I currently offer, “The Basics of Russian Language and Culture.”
  • Topics include the Cyrillic alphabet; the basics of Russian grammar and pronunciation; identifying the title, author and subject of a scholarly article; keyword recognition in texts; basic conversation skills; word processing in Russian; Russian web resources including databases and library catalogues; citing Russian sources in English-language papers; the geography and placenames of Russia; and Russian name conventions and forms of address.
  • The purpose of the course is twofold: to help students who need some rudimentary Russian for their research; and to provide an introduction to the language for students who are considering taking a traditional four-skills course.
  • Dr. Stephen Field (Chinese) has taught a course in Classical Chinese using this model

The English-language course with optional readings and discussions in one or more target languages

  • This is popular model at LAC pioneer SUNY-Binghamton (see Translation Perspectives X).
  • It includes several variants:
  • LAC students substitute some target-language readings for required readings in English.
  • LAC students read texts in the original while other students read translations of the same texts.
  • LAC students do a group project in the target language.

The English-language course in which everyone reads works in English that incorporate some elements of one or more target languages

  • An example of this model is a Mythology class that uses “texts which incorporate the original languages, words untranslatable into English” (Translation Perspectives X 140).

The English Literature course that employs foreign-language translations.

  • There is a published description of a Shakespeare course that uses this model in extra meetings for students who know French (Language and Content 87).
  • The students compare the translations of sonnets with each other and with the original.
  • According to the description, “facilitators report that these students, when comparing translations, proceed more thoughtfully than they do when reading English alone, and they seem to take note of figurative language with a heightened consciousness.”

Independent study

  • LAC credit can be attached to any university course by means of independent study for individual students.

The Foreign Language Immersion Program (Translation Perspectives VII 103, 110-111).

  • Students take all courses in the target language during a given semester
  • This program, as a LAC model, originated at the University of Minnesota.
  • It is the basic format of summer language institutes, although it can be used during the academic year as well.

The Joint Degree program

  • Students at the University of Rhode Island graduate in five years with a joint degree in German and Engineering (Spinelli, “Languages Across the Curriculum: A Postsecondary Initiative” 7)

The Internship

  • Students complete an internship using the target language either abroad or at home where opportunities exist (Language and Content 106).

Service Learning

  • Service Learning in general is currently a popular addition to the college curriculum
  • At Trinity the LAC program at the 2003 workshop heard a presentation from two representatives of local volunteer organizations, who suggested how our students might combine their study of Spanish with service to the community.
  • Some Trinity students have subsequently done this.

The English-language course in which the teacher introduces some target-language vocabulary (Next Steps 22).

  • In all of my literature in translation classes and my English language culture class I teach the roots and original meanings of words like “perestroika” and “pogrom.”
  • There is a published description of a course on Kant, with no German-Language prerequisite, that includes the analysis of key words in terms of “roots, semantic range, and Kantian usage” (Language and Content 86).

II CBI models for language classrooms (from Stryker and Leaver, Content-Based Instruction and Kecht and von Hammerstein, Languages Across the Curriculum)

  • Textbooks are supplemented with authentic materials and ultimately replaced either by a content-oriented textbook or authentic materials (Stryker and Leaver 33)
  • Languages classes are organized around themes (Stryker and Leaver 55)
  • Institutions offer two tracks for language-learners: skills-based and content-based (Stryker and Leaver 59)
  • Content-specific proficiency tests are developed (Kecht and von Hammerstein, 106).
  • The “preview-review” model, where language teachers attend lectures in an English-language course, then give “follow-up” lessons in the target language. (Stryker and Leaver 107).
  • Content specialists give guest lectures in the target language in a language course (Kecht and von Hammerstein xxii).
  • Language class include “instruction units” to enhance museum and library visits (Kecht and von Hammerstein 24)

III LAC and Language Program Articulation (From Barrette and Paesini, Language Program Articulation and Kecht and von Hammerstein, Languages Across the Curriculum)

  • Intermediate and Advanced languages classes are articulated along disciplinary lines (Barrette and Paesini 65).
  • Students keep language-learning portfolios throughout their language study that include material from lack courses and “reflections” on the applicability of their language study for other disciplines (Barrette and Paesini 143).
  • The same text is introduced at various points in a curricular sequence (Kecht and von Hammerstein 27).

IV European Models & Approaches (From Grenfell, Modern Languages Across the Curriculum)

  • In Europe LAC is generally referred to as Modern Languages Across the Curriculum (MLAC) or Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL)
  • LAC at present is gaining in popularity in Europe (where it has a long history) as a result of recent initiatives to increase multilingualism among residents of EU countries.
  • The following models and approaches were taken from Grenfell, Modern Languages Across the Curriculum, as noted on the list of Works Consulted
  • The book includes essays by teachers from a number of European countries and it describes CLIL programs not only from colleges but from grade schools and high schools as well

A Immersion Programs

  • “Specialist Language Colleges,” for which CLIL has been proposed (4)
  • “Parity Structure”: Half of the sessions are in one language, half in the other (56)
  • General Education/common curriculum courses in the target languages (118)
  • Trilingual Baccalaureate (118)

B Teacher-Intensive Models

  • Language pedagogy training for subject teachers (58, 96, 111, 123)
  • Subject training for language teachers (103, 120)
  • Content teachers teach vocabulary and grammar as part of the content course (43, 65, 84)
  • Content and Language teachers teach classes together (81)
  • LAC component in Interdisciplinary courses with two or more subject specialists (105)
  • “Role reversal”: Qualified students receive training and help lead the course (123)
  • Students are assessed for both content knowledge and language skills (127)

C Multilingual Classrooms

  • Teach in the target language and repeat in the native language (43)
  • Allow “translanguaging,” i. e., code-switching (62, 94-6, 105-6).
  • Language teacher visits once a week with 15-30 minute language activity (94)
  • Outside lectures, films and seminars in the target language (103)
  • LAC modules are distributed throughout the length of the course (100)
  • Varying degrees of target language use within a given lesson (105)

D Inclusive Courses

  • Include all levels, not just top language-learners (66, 80, 122, 126)
  • Design “Feel-good, can-do” courses to promote self-esteem and language awareness (91)
  • Group projects, independent study (84)
  • Students help to plan the course (123)

V LAC and Citizenship Education (Oster and Starkey, Citizenship and Language Learning)

  • Language teaching is viewed in the context of Education for Democratic Citizenship or EDC (24)
  • By and large these are languages courses with interdisciplinary subject matter aimed at teaching democratic values.
  • Many of the examples are from English classes in Europe, Latin America and Asia
  • Courses described in the literature range from objective presentations of every side of an issue or issues to outright advocacy of particular positions. Examples:
    • In a language course students study “human rights instruments” in the target language (32)
    • Teachers promote controversy in the language classroom as a means of stimulating discussion, with students defending all sides of an issue (34)
    • Teachers add a political dimension to traditional language-teaching subjects like sports, education or future plans (36)
    • A multi-topic world cultures course in the target language that explores topics like local languages, place names, and religions for a variety of countries.
    • Students attend seminars and other out-of-class activities, including volunteer work, in the target language (67-8).
    • Language is taught not as a language of commerce but as an instrument for “talking back and in reclaiming agency as the right to co-write history” (91(.
    • Students complete citizenship related projects (107) or tasks (121) in the target language.

VI News Developments

A There is a new model at Trinity

A content course, “Brazilian Popular Culture,” has been developed by Rosana Blanco-Cano, that is taught in a second language (Spanish) but includes instruction in a third language (Portuguese).

B MLA Report

The Modern Language Association, an influential professional organization for teachers of English, linguistics, and modern languages, has issued a report that contains a number of recommendations for modern language departments in particular and universities in general:

  • Replace the traditional two-tiered language/literature structure in modern language departments
  • Cross disciplinary boundaries
  • Do not try to replicate native speakers but rather aim for “translingual and transcultural competence,” i. e., “critical language awareness, interpretation and translation, historical and political consciousness, social sensibility, aesthetic perception.”
  • Institute a unified four-year curriculum with transcultural content
  • Include one path through literature to the major, along with other alternatives
  • Use FLAC models such as team-taught linked courses and one credit language modules
  • Aim for a greater variety of specialties among teachers in language departments
  • Hire linguists and language acquisition specialists
  • Have standards for language learners
  • Encourage language requirements for other disciplines
  • Enforce language requirements in Ph.D programs
  • Enhance graduate training in languages and languages teaching
  • Encourage foundations to fund language learning
  • Promote the learning of new languages among faculty members
  • Strengthen connections with k-12 programs
  • Encourage gifted language learners
  • Increase the number of languages
  • Promote programs for heritage learners
  • Promote translation and interpretation
  • Develop intensive courses
  • Invite second-language guest speakers
  • Make sure campus media include second-language material
  • Promote contacts between instructors from different languages

C Goucher College IICA program

  • Goucher College as instituted a new program predicated on the hypothesis, which research has substantiated, that study-abroad and content-based instruction improve language learning.
  • They have developed an “Integrated Intensive Course Abroad,” or IICA, which incorporates several of the models mentioned above.
  • The course has three components: a seven-week content course on campus, a three-week study-abroad course, and a summative course on campus.
  • Students received 8 credits for the course
  • The program requires students to continue their language study beyond the minimum required for graduation.
  • It requires cross-training of instructor
  • It was funded by a grant that covered release time for instructors to complete this cross-training
  • One course, in the education department, required a service learning experience during the study-abroad phase, in keeping with department requirements for other courses
  • The college is considering a two-year cross-training program

D NEH assessment of LAC

  • Thomas M. Adams, a senior program officer at the National Endowment for the Humanities (which funded many early LAC initiatives including ours), has written an assessment of the state of LAC today.
  • He notes the importance of “personal chemistry and the curricular landscape of a particular campus.”
  • He suggests “languages in (other) disciplines” and the “’connections’ standard,”
    including but not limited to LAC models, as the way to promote growth in language teaching today
  • He notes the axiom “content from the beginning and languages to the end”
  • He praises the “myriad variants” of the LAC model
  • He promotes the term CLAC, meaning Cultures and Languages Across the Curriculum
  • While noting that institutional support is flagging at some universities, he cites Trinity as one of the outstanding and most fully developed programs in the country.
  • He cites several new LAC models that he has come across:
  • Dickinson College: Every foreign language program is linked to a program in international studies
  • U. of Mississippi: A degree in international studies requires a certain score on the ACTFL proficiency exam. The program pays for the test and assigns a language mentor to each major.
  • UNC-Chapel Hill: A German history seminar will not admit language-deficient students and and requires the ongoing study of Slavic languages that are relevant to the students’ research
  • Pacific Lutheran University: Grant-funded student-faculty as a catalyst for LAC
  • UC-Irvine: Use of Spanish in American History courses.

Works Cited

Adams, Thomas M. “Beyond
Language and Literature Departments: History, Culture, and International Study.” ADFL Bulletin 38 (2006-2007), 13-21.

Catherine M. and Kate Paesani. eds. Language Program Articulation: Developing a Theoretical Foundation. Boston: Thomson Heinle, 2004.

Virginia M. and H. Stephen Straight, eds. Translation Perspectives X. Using Languages Across the Curriculum: Diverse Disciplinary Perspectives. Binghamton: Center for Research in Translation, SUNY-Binghamton, 1997.

Michael, ed. Modern Languages Across the Curriculum. London: Routledge Falmer, 2002.

Maria-Regina and Katharina von Hammerstein. Languages Across the Curriculum: Interdisciplinary Structuresand Internationalized Education. Columbus: National East Asian Resource Center, 2000.

Merle and Frank Ryan, eds. Language and Content: Discipline- and Content-Based Approaches to Language Study. Lexington, MA: D. C. Heath & Co., 1993.

Ad Hoc Committee on Foreign Languages. “Foreign Languages and Higher Education: New Structures for a Changing World.” May 2007. <>.

Moreno-Lopez, Isabel, Cristina
Saenz-de-Tejada and Tami Kopischke Smith. “Language and Study Abroad Across the Curriculum: An Analysis of Course Development.” Foreign Language Annals 41 (2008), 674-686.

Audrey and Hugh Starkey, eds. Citizenship and Language Learning: International Perspectives. Stoke on Trent: Trentham Books, 2005.

Robert E. and Barbara Turlington, eds. Next Steps for Languages Across the Curriculum: Prospects, Problems and Promise. Washington: American Council on Education, 1998.

Robert E. and Barbara Turlington, eds. Spreading the Word II: Promising Developments for Undergraduate Foreign Language Instruction. Washington: American Council on Education, 1996.

Emily. “Languages Across the Curriculum: A Postsecondary Initiative.” ACTFL Newsletter (Fall 1995), 5-8.

H. Stephen, ed. Translation Perspectives VIILanguages Across the
Curriculum: Invited Essays on the Use of Foreign Languages Throughout the Postsecondary Curriculum
. Binghamton: Center for Research in Translation, SUNY-Binghamton, 1994.

Stephen B. and Betty Lou Leaver, eds. Content-Based Instruction in Foreign Language Education. Washington: Gerogetown UP, 1997.

David P. and Mary A. Cisar. “Foreign Language Across the Curriculum: A Critical Appraisal.” Modern Language Journal 76 (1992), 295-308.

Food Science and Nutrition 222 French 222 Cal Poly at San Luis Obispo ‘French Food in French.'” Chronicle of Higher Education 46, no. 33 (April 21, 2000).

Trinity University LAC Program.