In this article, the author explains the habits that she brought to teaching English from the field of second-language acquisition. She began teaching in the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, where graduate teaching assistants were trained to use the communicative language teaching method, especially as it is developed by Lee and VanPatten in Making Communicative Language Teaching Happen (1995). When the author switched to teaching world literature survey courses in the Department of English at North Carolina State University, she found that many of the techniques she had used in beginner language courses applied beautifully to what she was trying to do in her new field. After briefly explaining the characteristics of communicative language teaching, this article highlights the three main strategies that she found most useful: minimizing “teacher talk” and maximizing the work the students do in the classroom, emphasizing the process of learning to encourage the students’ metacognitive thinking about their own education, and making negotiation a key activity to engage their critical thinking skills. As universities and colleges increasingly decide to make critical thinking and student engagement key factors in their brand, it can be very useful to reexamine the habits that we adopt and to consider some of the best practices of our colleagues in other departments.
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Catherine Mainland; Teaching Literature Like a Foreign Language; Or, What I Learned When I Switched Departments. Pedagogy 1 January 2013; 13 (1): 145–148. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/15314200-1814269
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