The purpose of this session is to promote discussion and build connections among scholars involved in language learning spaces.
Self-access language centers (SALCs) and US-style language centers (US LCs) have common origins and a common current focus on social interaction, so each has the potential to benefit from the other’s expertise (Lavolette, 2019). However, cross-citation between their literatures is almost entirely lacking, and mutual misperceptions of SALCs and US LCs may be the cause. That is, SALCs have been (inaccurately) imagined as library-like places of solitary study (e.g., Gardner & Miller, 1999), while LCs have been (mistakenly) seen as technology-focused language laboratories (e.g., Hagen, 2017). One step in an effort to promote cross-pollination between the literatures is to change perceptions by clearly defining the objects of study, in particular, what language learning spaces around the world have in common and how they differ.
To focus discussion, I will present a preliminary typology of language learning spaces, primarily based on language centers in the US and Japan, and provide examples of each. As an example of a language learning space in Japan, I will describe the Global Commons at Kyoto Sangyo University, based on a case study that included interviews with full-time staff and student staff. I hope to receive feedback from participants on where language learning spaces in Europe and beyond may fit into the typology and expand it.
Gardner, D., & Miller, L. (1999). Establishing self-access: From theory to practice. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.
Hagen, L. K. (2017). Kaputnik: Lessons from the life and death of the language lab. In F. A. Kronenberg (Ed.), From language lab to language center and beyond: The past, present, and future of the language center (pp. 13–27). Auburn University, AL: International Association for Language Learning and Technology.
Lavolette, E. (2019). A very brief introduction to US language centers. In L. Xethakis & C. Taylor (Eds.), JASAL 2018 x SUTLF 5: Selected papers from the Sojo University Teaching and Learning Forum 2018: Making connections (pp. 4–25).
Elizabeth (Betsy) Lavolette, PhD, is Associate Professor of English at Kyoto Sangyo University in Kyoto, Japan. Her research focuses on language learning spaces, especially in the US and Japan. She is a co-editor of the Language Center Handbook (2018). She is also interested in the use of technology in teaching and learning.