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Where Do We Go From Here?*


  • Annette S. Baslaw

    1. Associate Professor and Director, Foreign Languages Education Program, Department of Foreign Languages and Bilingual Education, New York University, New York, New York.
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  • *

    Originally presented on 2 May 1975 in Albany, New York, as the keynote address at a Colloquium cosponsored by the New York State Association of Foreign Language Teachers and the New York State Education Department.


ABSTRACT  Interpreting ‘crisis' to mean an evaluation in preparation for growth and action directed at restabilization, the author examines the ways in which the profession may meet the external and internal needs of the student. Can foreign language teaching respond to the needs of the student's external social world and his internal personality? The external needs include equipping him with vocational and professional skills; in addition, the profession's concern with performance objectives is directly related to the demand that various tasks be performed in a manner that can be quantified and measured. Taking foreign language study out of the classroom and into the world (and bringing the world into the classroom through school-community interaction) further meets the external needs of students, especially in bilingual-bicul-tural situations. Meeting the internal needs of students-emotional, aesthetic, spiritual, social - is an equally valuable contribution of the foreign language teacher. The teacher can make the student aware of the use of his physical self in non-verbal communication; the meaning of human existence can be explored in the literature and philosophy of other civilized cultures. The ’cultural‘ heritage of the language taught represents the deepest and truest forms of human communication; we have the opportunity to contribute to the social development of students through an understanding of the history, political systems, and social institutions of another nation-which can also yield great understanding of otir own. Our discipline incorporates all others, for there is nothing that cannot be taught in the target language. The foreign language teacher, in responding to the timely, must not forget the timeless-language holds the identity of man, his preserved past and his plannedtor future. Therein lies the challenge to enable our students to penetrate another culture, contributing to greater respect between countries and helping human beings free themselves for new options on the human journey. “Where do we go from here?”-forward, out of this identity crisis into maturity, self-confidence, and growth.

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