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ERIC Number: EJ861157
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 10
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-0024-1822
The English or Foreign Language Major and Liberal Education
Liberal Education, v95 n2 p30-39 Spr 2009
Study in language, literature, and culture has long been a defining feature of education in the liberal arts. Speaking, reading, and writing have traditionally stood at the heart of education because the arts of language and the tools of literacy are key qualifications for full participation in social, political, economic, and cultural life. Today the hallmarks of a liberal education--communication, critical analysis, and creativity--are more important than ever as prerequisites for success in life. A college education should develop students' abilities to think critically and analytically and to communicate knowledge and understanding effectively. While literacy is the foundational core of all educational and scholarly projects, it is the particular focus of study in departments of language and literature, and the twenty-first-century knowledge commons puts specific forms of literacy at a premium: the ability to communicate effectively and persuasively with others through "cross-cultural literacy," to work with new forms of media through "technological literacy," to understand language and culture in context through "historical literacy," and to analyze, organize, and make sense of information through "information literacy." The Modern Language Association recommends an approach to structuring baccalaureate degree programs in English and other languages that combines four constitutional elements: (1) a coherent program of study; (2) teamwork among the instructional staff members; (3) interdepartmental cooperative teaching; and (4) empirical research to assess the successes and shortcomings of the program. At once structured and flexible, the major in language and literature should follow an integrative model that is responsive to the demands of technological innovation and the realities of globalized societies. The major also needs to accommodate the explosion of disciplinary knowledge that, in language and literature as in other fields of study, creates daunting challenges while giving rise to new opportunities. A twenty-first-century liberal education must promote the linguistic powers, humanistic skills of analysis and argument, and cross-cultural awareness required for receiving and articulating ideas on an international stage, where the capacity to work comfortably in more than one language is the expectation and the norm.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A