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Learning Outcomes

Summary of language learning outcomes finalized May 17, 2018.

Elementary Language Program — First Year

First-year learning outcomes for all languages in the ELP

Listening: Students will be able to understand words, phrases, and simple conversations related to personal experiences and everyday life in present, past, and future contexts. Students will be able to predict content from a variety of audio and video sources, guess meaning from context, recognize cognates, active vocabulary and grammar structures, identify general and specific information, and understand the main idea of what is being said. Students will begin to distinguish between formal and informal relations made evident in speech.

Reading: Students will be able to use various reading strategies to identify cognates, words that fall into logically related families, and understand new words in context that relate familiar vocabulary in order to recognize and comprehend the main points of a text in present, past, and future contexts. Students will be able to digest simple, everyday texts such as menus, blogs, reviews, personal ads, and social media postings. Students will be exposed to more complex texts like short biographies, poems, and literary prose with specific guidance and reinforcement of strategies to make the texts accessible to them.

Speaking: Students will be able to use the target language to hold short conversations, both guided and spontaneous. Emphasis will be placed on personal, authentic expression and meaningful exchange of ideas and feelings about present and past experiences, as well as future plans. Emphasis will be placed on the students’ ability to communicate their message and thus mistakes are expected.

Writing: Students will be able to write multiple paragraphs (up to a page) on familiar topics that describe and narrate personal experiences in the present, past, and future tenses. Students will be introduced to creative writing. Students will begin to recognize common errors and self-edit their work.

Reflectivity and Cultural Awareness: Students will be able to self-reflect on a meaningful level about themselves, their values and their environment. Students will begin to evaluate their own identity as world citizens. They will draw on personal experiences to better understand the target culture and to identify and recognize stereotypes and avoid generalizations. Students will reflect on their language use in both the target and their native languages and will begin to develop understanding of the relationship between language and culture.

Elementary Language Program — Second Year

Second-year learning outcomes for all languages in the ELP

Listening: Students will be able to understand the main ideas of authentic videos and extended speech on less personal topics (current and historical events, multicultural identities, social conflicts, socioeconomic differences, and topics of professional interest). Students will continue to distinguish between formal and informal relations made evident in speech.

Reading: Students will continue to be able to guess meaning of words from context, summarize main ideas, make comparisons and react to a variety of longer texts (500 – 800 words). They will also begin to discern writers' viewpoints, tone, etc. in varying formats and registers of greater length and complexity.

Speaking: Students will further develop their oral fluency and will be able to sustain more extended interactions in most informal and some formal discussions on topics that are familiar, of personal interest, or pertinent to everyday life. They will be able to express opinions, hypothesize, and react to more abstract current events and more complex cultural issues. They will be able to make themselves understood in most situations.

Writing: Students will be able to produce cohesive texts on a range of topics related to personal experiences and also on topics beyond their own experiences (broader questions on issues in culture and society). They will further develop their linguistic accuracy producing texts using a variety of structures that are grammatically correct with errors that minimally impede comprehension. They will also further improve the organizational coherence of their writing.

Reflectivity and Cultural Awareness: Students will be able to demonstrate knowledge of cultural topics introduced in class, including aspects of identity, complex social issues, multiculturalism and the impact of history and social events in the present. Students will reflect on their language learning and goals in the target language. They will be able to define and refine their personal learning styles and develop successful learning strategies. They will learn the importance of self-assessment and will develop the ability to analyze their performance in and outside of class. Students will also reflect on language in general and gain greater appreciation for the nuances of the target language as well as their own.

Upper-Level — Third and Fourth Year

Summary statement of upper-level learning outcomes

The upper-level curriculum in RLL is content-driven, interdisciplinary, and designed for students who seek to improve their: 1. critical-thinking abilities, 2. target-language proficiency (French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish), and 3. cultural and historical knowledge related to these languages. Students develop critical-thinking skills as a way of deepening their cultural and historical knowledge related to specific disciplines of humanistic inquiry, such as literature, visual arts, linguistics, and history. Course topics are accessed through speaking, listening, writing, and reading in the target language.

In third-year courses, students are exposed to key issues and analytical methods in different humanistic disciplines. Students are expected to show their ability to think critically about primary sources (e.g. texts, films, language data, historical artifacts), acquire a panoramic cultural and historical understanding of the course content, make comparisons, question assumptions, and consider alternative perspectives.

In fourth-year courses, students engage with advanced topics that are typically historically, geographically, and/or thematically-oriented. Through more advanced and sophisticated reading, discussion, and critical analysis of course materials, students develop a level of writing and oral expression that prepares them to engage with native speakers of the target language. Courses at this level are aimed at deepening cultural knowledge while developing target-language skills. These courses also aim to provide students with more rigorous methodological training in different disciplines.


Upper-level learning outcomes framed within the course curriculum

1. Critical-thinking abilities: In third-year courses, students learn to argue ideas through coherent and informed thinking, and by building on others’ comments and perspectives. By learning how to reason carefully from clearly stated premises, students develop the ability to frame sophisticated questions and explore pre-determined topics within the course’s disciplinary framework (i.e. guided critical thinking).

In fourth-year courses, students apply their critical-thinking abilities through more focused disciplinary settings in which students have greater ownership over the course material and its discussion. Students may be asked to consult outside sources in order to ask complex questions and achieve open-ended production of knowledge (i.e. engaged critical thinking). Final projects may include research papers, media projects, close readings, oral interviews, or presentations.
At the conclusion of their program of study, students will achieve an advanced level of conceptualization by learning to construct complex ideas and take intellectual positions relating to the target cultures.

2. Target-language proficiency: In third-year courses, students acquire a broad control of grammatical and syntactic structures and a fairly wide general vocabulary. They write at the discourse level on course topics with minimal errors and with some syntactic sophistication. Students converse with fluency and spontaneity on topics that are familiar or of personal interest, and with somewhat less fluency and accuracy on more complex topics of wider, historical, or public interest about which they are learning.

In fourth-year courses, students incorporate complex grammatical structures (e.g. a variety of tenses and moods) as well as a broad and specialized vocabulary, with a higher level of accuracy in the target language (i.e. errors do not affect comprehensibility). Students are able to converse with fluency and spontaneity not only regarding topics that are familiar or of personal interest, but also on a variety of scholarly topics of community, national, or global interest introduced in the course.

At the conclusion of their program of study, students will be able to combine and link thoughts in sustained discourse, articulate complex ideas and opinions, and make persuasive arguments in the target language.

3. Cultural and historical knowledge: In third-year courses, students learn to identify key terms and debates relevant to specific disciplines, as well as ways to approach problems within these disciplines through a guided analysis of texts, visual arts, linguistic data, or historical artifacts. These skills enable students to succeed in cultural immersion experiences in the target language (e.g. study abroad, internships, service learning, field work), should they choose to do so.

In fourth-year courses, students develop finer-grained knowledge of a topic within a specific discipline and achieve a greater understanding of the course topic through scholarly and original and/or creative work. Students also develop a greater specialization in cross-cultural analysis, thereby achieving a higher sense of global citizenship. Students are able to draw from their first- hand cultural immersion experiences in course discussions.
At the conclusion of their program of study, students will have developed metacognitive skills and deeper knowledge of texts, contexts and situations from a diversity and complexity of cultures in/from the target language.