Roundtable: Language Across the Curriculum

Illustration using original print “The Acquisition” c. 2004 Ian Shalabh Prasad <> Creative Commons 2.0

Supported by the CTL, Professors Leigh Garrison-Fletcher and Lucy McNair organized the Roundtable on Language Across the Curriculum on Friday, May 17, 2019. The event was well attended by LaGuardia faculty and ACE staff, as well as representatives from Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC) and Bronx Community College (BCC).

The opening panel presentations focused on the topic of effectively implementing translanguaging pedagogy in higher education. Rich perspectives were offered by Dr. Kate Menken on the work of the CUNY New York State Initiative on Emerging Bilinguals team, and BCC’s Professor Andrea Parmegiani’s discussion of how he is using ESL students’ first language to promote college success.

Professor Dominique Zino, English, provided a glimpse of what’s going on at CUNY regarding the shift to using predictive measures such as SAT and Regents scores rather than the CAT-W to determine placement in English or ESL classes. Representatives from our non-credit High School Equivalency, CUNY Language Immersion Program (CLIP), and The English Language Center (TELC) programs reminded us that we need to prepare for ways to place students who DO NOT come out of NYC high schools.

Dr. Arthur Lau, chair of the Education and Language Acquisition (ELA) department, offered additional information about the new placement process and expressed a few concerns. We all took note of Arthur’s suggestion that the proposed predictive algorithm take into account success in several credit-bearing “content” courses, and not only ENG101.

Professor Olga Aksakalova, English, offered an informative talk about the Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) effort here at LaGuardia. Writing Center tutors and new director, Professor Rochell Isaac, then discussed the complexities of navigating different standards of English, and how tutors use their own experiences as non-native speakers of English to encourage students to build on all their language resources. Organizer and moderator of the discussion, Professor Tara Coleman, English, also recruited some of her students to participate in this conversation.

Judging from all the “wows,” most of the 40 or so people in attendance were unfamiliar with the translation resources built into the Library databases that Ann Matsuuchi and Thomas Cleary showed us; all were intrigued by the Wikipedia Translat-a-thon as summarized by Professors Ximena Gallardo and Tara Coleman, English.

During the wrap-up conversation, we thought together about how we could spread Language Across the Curriculum pedagogy throughout the College. Those present agreed that we need to find ways to embed the principles of LAC pedagogy into the LaGuardia culture, and create a classroom and College environment that values multiple and diverse student and faculty language resources.

In short, it was a great event! The Roundtable succeeded in introducing many to LAC pedagogy, and provided a forum for what may soon turn into a cross-CUNY collaboration. For more about the CTL’s Language Across the Curriculum seminar, please see Leigh Garrison Fletchers’ article: Language Across the Curriculum: Why All Community College Faculty Must Learn to Support Emergent Bilingual Students.