December 21, 2016
On December 18, 2016, The American Councils for International Education published an article by Steven Byrd, Ph.D., associate professor of Spanish and Portuguese and director of the Latin American Studies Minor.
The article, “Languages as cultural ecosystems and why students should explore them,” argues that world languages, rather than simply being "tools of communication," are, instead, "cultural ecosystems," which are in need of exploration by U.S. students in our 21st century school curricula.
These “cultural ecosystems,” writes Byrd, “amount to a universe of words, phrases, grammar, history, and cultural manifestations which have spanned centuries to form, each one distinct yet universal to our common humanity.” He advocates for the exploration of these ecosystems to “allow students to explore similarities and differences between peoples and places, seeing how languages develop independently and also borrow from others, and how they transcend time and space.”
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