Personalizing Foreign Language Instruction


  • David E. Wolfe,

  • Leland W. Howe

  • David E. Wolfe (Ph.D., Ohio State University) is Assistant Professor of Foreign Language Education, Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

  • Leland W. Howe (Ph.D., Michigan State University) is Associate Professor of Curriculum and Instruction, Temple University.


ABSTRACT  Foreign language enrollments are declining. This decline may be due, in part, to the lack of relevance of foreign languages to students' current concerns and problems. As a result, teachers may have to change their thinking about the role of foreign languages in the curriculum. In a humane curriculum, foreign languages have the important role of helping students examine their lives, their values, and their ways of thinking. This kind of curriculum may necessitate giving up “covering the book.” Teachers will have to learn new teaching strategies and techniques to help students examine their beliefs, values, interests, and concerns. To accomplish this goal, techniques from humanistic education and values clarification can be used in the target language to help students answer such questions as Who am I? and What do I want to become? These techniques, however, are not gimmicks to be used to “kill time.” They must be used purposefully if the goals of humanistic education are to be reached in the language classroom.