Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Class for the "Treasure Box of Education"

I am still excited about attending today's class "Languages of the World" taught by Elizabeth O'Dowd. Please let me give a brief review of this course before I speak about today's lesson because I am excited after each class and after each assignment for this class.

I can't but admire Elizabeth O'Dowd, a professor of Applied Linguistics Department at St. Michael's College and her approach to teaching. She was very kind to allow me for sitting in her Languages of the World class. It is an undergraduate course, but I highly recommend that anyone who is interested in languages, culture, intercultural communication and simply self-development attend this class. The course covers languages of the world, their birth, development and death, their typology, geography and how globalization influences them. I am amazed by the fact that I reviewed geography of the world while preparing for this class; I looked at my linguistic knowledge and linguistic education from a different perspective; I even re-evaluated myself, my language and my culture while attending this class.

The readings for the class cover each issue from various perspectives; there are always videos or YouTube posts for many aspects covered in class. In addition, participation in the class discussion contributes significantly to the theoretical material because there are always a few international students in class and the American students are also with different background and brilliant ideas. However, the most significant contribution factor is that Professor O'Dowd invites international students to speak about their languages. I was one of those quest speakers and made a presentation about the Russian language. Therefore, we read, watch video and then listen to a native speaker of that language. And this is the reason of my today's excitement :-).

This week we began a new section of the course: "Language and Globalization" and the first topic was Multilingual Nations where we read about India, Canada and the USA. After discussing the material of the book, we had a guest speaker from India. It was exciting to hear her comments on what we read in the book and to hear her stories about the language policies and education in India. It is amazing that most of the people are, at least, bilingual in India because they have around 500 languages 23 of which are official!!!!! It is a new concept for me to know that

- if you want to work in government you should know English and Hindi;

- depending on your "caste" you speak a particular language and even a particular level of it.

I read about it long ago, but it all seemed just a mystery, just sci-fi. But to speak with a person who grew up in that environment and considers it a normal style of lie turns your worldview up-side-down.
I guess it is the greatest aspect of Professor's O'Dowd's class that not only teaches she about the languages and asks you to read about them but gives an opportunity to her students to speak with real people and hear what the reality of the other world is.


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