Steve Thorne at CLS: “Living language and effortful engagement”

On Thursday, April 6, the CLS was happy to welcome Steve Thorne, Associate Professor of Second Language Acquisition at Portland State University’s Department of World Languages and Literatures.

In his lunchtime lecture, “Living language and effortful engagement as catalysts for language learning,” Thorne argued for a view of language learning that puts social, purposive, effortful, and consequential activity at the core. In his view, engagement and learning through living language can take place in any number of communicative environments, from ‘traditional’-looking face-to-face classrooms to the “digital wilds” of YouTube comment threads, massively multiplayer online games, and fanfiction sites. Across all these, however, a key task of the language teacher is to help learners “bridge” their motivated (and often immersive, so less reflective) engagements with authentic texts and practices in the L2 with analytical, interpretive, and critical activities that reveal connections between linguistic form, function, meaning and use.

Slides from Thorne’s talk can be downloaded here; the video and a few photos from the day’s lecture appear below. And, whether you were at the lecture or not, please feel free to leave any thoughts or questions in the comments.

  2 comments for “Steve Thorne at CLS: “Living language and effortful engagement”

  1. Sybil
    April 8, 2017 at 12:56 pm

    Great, high-energy talk!
    I particularly liked learning about 4E cognition: embodied, embedded, enacted, extended.
    A pragmatist at heart, I would like to learn more about specific projects and applications.

  2. adam
    July 20, 2018 at 4:01 pm

    I’m in agreement with this. Language learning has to be rooted in the social element that maintains its purpose. I hated learning languages in school for largely the same reasons I hated maths. There just didn’t seem to be a huge amount of practical benefit for me at the time.

    Now, I love to learn languages and have really thrown myself in over the past few years. It’s led me to travel, live abroad, have relationships with people who don’t speak my language, and so much more. With modern tech like exchange apps you can meet people wherever you go.

    Big fan of idyoma – – as it’s good for finding people to meet with in real life. I would say educators should look more toward these kinds of approaches. Language exchange helps a student enjoy the learning process and see the value of their study in real time.

    With so much bigotry seemingly rooted in monolingualism it feels like improving language learning at a young age should be an important task.

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