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Using Images as Springboards to Teach Cultural Perspectives in Light of the Ideals of the MLA Report

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Abstract: The centrality of culture and language learning in foreign language instruction is highlighted in the Standards for Foreign Language Learning in the 21st Century (National Standards, 2006) and the MLA report, “Foreign Languages and Higher Education: New Structures for a Changed World” (MLA Ad Hoc Committee on Foreign Languages, 2007). Operationalizing the teaching of culture, however, is an ongoing challenge for instructors. Although classrooms are often replete with cultural “products” and descriptions of cultural “practices,” devising ways to effectively use them as springboards for analysis of cultural “perspectives” may be elusive. This article describes an approach to teaching cultural and linguistic competence through the analysis of images linked to other texts. At the same time, it helps students move toward slowly becoming more “translingual” and “transcultural.”

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