Developing a supportive, caring, and respectful learning environment for students across five Slavic languages has become a core teaching philosophy for the University of Michigan Slavic Language Program. In June 2018, the team of seven language lecturers was awarded with an LSA DEI New Initiatives/New Infrastructure (NI-NI) grant to support our Slavic Language Program Collaborative Curriculum Revision Project. The project is focused on fostering students’ foreign language experience and success through inclusive teaching practices and innovative teaching methods. Slavic Lecturers Marija Rosic, Nina Shkolnik, Svitlana Rogovyk, Ewa Pasek, Eugene Bondarenko, Alina Makin, and Jodi Greig have been working on revision and modernization of their current course curricula in Bosnian/ Croatian/Serbian (BCS), Russian, Ukrainian, Polish, and Czech with focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion in teaching and learning through the creative use of digital resources, experiential learning methods, and instructional technologies. The programs’ diverse curricula will allow our students, not only to effectively work on developing their foreign language proficiency, but also to feel “at home” while learning a new language and culture in every one of our big and small language classrooms.
For example, in Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian language curricula, Marija Rosic has been working on implementing oral history interviews conducted by her second-year language students. The main purpose of this project called Inclusive Teaching in Bosnian/Croatian/ Serbian: “Life in Former Yugoslavia” (The Time before the War) is to collect narratives that focus on similarities between different ethnic and religious groups of former Yugoslavia. Because BCS classes are attended by students of different heritage and with diverse cultural background the idea has been actively accepted by all students and connects the students with their heritage as they are developing listening and communication skills in a formal register through the discourse of the interview. Marija Rosic indicates that the use of oral history in her class is suggested as an innovative teaching technique which could be used in any language class with both heritage and traditional foreign language learners.
Beginning in September, students conducted a series of short interviews with people who were born in former Yugoslavia, and currently live in the Detroit metropolitan area. According to the suggested methodology, students identified BCS community members who are willing to share their experiences, design a set of questions and conduct at least five interviews, and make interview transcriptions. Vocabulary, grammar, reading, and listening comprehension activities based on the interviews will be designed and implemented by the instructor. Canvas is used as a main platform for this project.
With support of Philomena Meechan (LRC), Kush Patel (Digital Pedagogy Librarian), and Edras Rodrigues-Torres (Resident Librarian for International Study), Marija Rosic was able to provide students with training in pre-interview research and preparatory work in oral history process and interviewing protocols. Formal assessment of the outcomes of this project will be done at the end of the semester and will be presented during the Slavic Language Pedagogy Round Table discussion in January 2019 along with other participants of the Slavic Language Program Collaborative Curriculum Revision Project.