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Learner and Teacher Autonomy in Higher Education: Perspectives from Modern Language Teaching

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Edited By Manuel Jiménez Raya, José Javier Martos Ramos and Maria Giovanna Tassinari

This volume seeks to foster the development of teacher and learner autonomy in language learning in higher education. It pools the insights and experiences of a group of international researchers who present their reflections and research on different aspects of autonomy and related issues. Although autonomy is acknowledged as one of the main goals of education, in higher education the need for accountability and standardisation of learning outcomes may constitute external limitations to its development. In order to overcome teaching traditions and mainstream academic culture, teachers may need to reorient themselves and face the challenge of a substantial change involving their own and their learners’ beliefs, their practice and their role in the institution.

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The Babel Marketplace—An Artefact for Teacher Training (Christoph Ehlers)

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Christoph Ehlers

(University of Seville, Spain)

The Babel Marketplace—An Artefact for Teacher Training1

1.    Introduction

After thirty-five years of teaching German in Spain and doing research into foreign language learning (FLL) and teaching (FLT), I am quite convinced that one of our main functions as teachers is to facilitate experience, i.e., learning experience. Learners remember L2-tokens and build up their L2-proficiency because they relate them to experiences which are fixed in their neural networks by emotions. These unexpected, new situations and ‘odd’ constellations are intended to be fun and foster feelings of pleasure and self-esteem (cf. Arnold, Dörnyei & Pugliese, 2015). Thus, in my understanding, language teaching organizes events which in art we might call ‘happenings’. In German, this is referred to by the word Erlebnis, which is different from Erfahrung (experience). In English, Erlebnis is a nuanced merger of ‘experience’, ‘event’ and ‘adventure’. In German FLT-literature we find the concept of Erlebnisorientiertheit which means something similar to ‘action-orientedness’ to English-speaking scholars, but includes an affective and personal dimension.

This experiential approach underpins the Methodological Foundations of Second Language Teaching course for teacher trainees in the MASELE (Máster de Enseñanza de Español como Lengua Extranjera y de Otras Lenguas Modernas) Master’s program at the University of Seville. The course revolves around an experiential focal point, the Mercado de Babel, ‘Babel Marketplace’ (BM). In this ‘learning-by-teaching-circuit’ the trainees teach about a dozen...

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