How the new book, Studying a Foreign Language: An Interactive Guidebook, by Dr. Bobby Hobgood and Dr. Adriana Laza Medina, addresses a curricular challenge
Three years ago, a serendipitous meeting during a search committee gathering led to the writing of a text to support language learners. Neither my co-author, Dr. Adriana Laza Medina, nor I could have imagined that a single sidebar conversation would result in a three-year collaboration culminating in the publication of this book. To be specific, the conversation began as an acknowledgement of the often-uttered complaint, “Students struggle with studying a language.” The reality: Have they ever been taught how to study a language?
The first phase of the writing process, in retrospect, was the planning, development, and delivery of a series of workshops in the newly renovated Language Resource Center to address studying a language. To be clear, “studying” in this case, refers to what, why, how, when, and where students engage in a second or third language outside of the classroom. We offered six workshops the first year. Students and faculty members attended. Neither of us had suggested the idea of a book at that point. One student, who was also a teacher, requested we present the workshop to her high schoolers, so we did. Later, we collapsed the six workshops into a conference proposal. It was following a standing-room only presentation at a national conference where attendees affirmed their students’ struggle with language study, that we wondered how we might parlay this topic into a book to help more language learners.
The book is organized as a guidebook, and is intended for anyone who is studying a language through formal or informal study. It was written with two underlying premises:
Study is essential to language learning
The responsibility for language study is primarily the learners’.
It was written to help language learners achieve several goals:
Understand what it means to study a language
Develop a mindset and habits for language study
Organize themselves, their environment, and their time for success
Implement study strategies
Capitalize on readily available resources
Become self-directed as a language learner
Develop a Personal Language Study Plan
Three underlying influences support the scope and sequence of the guidebook:
the Communicative Approach to language teaching and learning
the distinction between “learning” and “acquiring” a language
the authors’ conceptual framework, the Language Study H.U.B., that takes a holistic view of language study
This semester, the book is being used as a book study for graduate level education students who are current K-12 teachers. Their feedback, coupled with a peer-review, will be used to inform the second edition, scheduled for publication in Fall 2021.
For more details, see bit.ly/studywl