Contemplative Pedagogy in Foreign Language Education at the Postsecondary Level

By Victoria P. Smith.

Published by Journal of the World Universities Forum

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper examines the use of contemplative practices, defined as activities that help focus the mind for insight, in light of these three questions: In what ways can we help students address the stressful challenges of young adulthood? How can we involve students in new ways of knowing and learning that engage the issues of our time? How can we develop a more compassionate understanding of the behavior and values of others, especially those who are unlike us? I examine the use of contemplative practices in foreign language education from three perspectives: as ways to calm and focus the mind for learning, as modes of inquiry, and as paths to transformation and intercultural understanding. The paper is both theoretical as well as practical. I explore evidence from various wisdom traditions as well as neuroscience, theories of human development, and intercultural studies. In the realm of the practical, I suggest an array of classroom activities that I feel support better learning, self-awareness, and the development of compassion.

Keywords: Contemplative Studies, Foreign Language Education, Intercultural Studies

Journal of the World Universities Forum, Volume 1, Issue 3, pp.47-56. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 552.526KB).

Dr. Victoria P. Smith

Senior Lecturer, Hispanic Studies, Brown University, Providence, RI, USA

Director of the Spanish language program in Hispanic Studies at Brown University from 1985-2005, Victoria Smith has recently returned to work on her longstanding interest in Contemplative Studies. (Brown has a Scholarly Contemplative Studies track in its medical school program and is currently considering a Contemplative Studies initiative in the college.) She currently teaches intermediate-level Spanish courses and a graduate seminar on FL learning and teaching, advises Freshmen, and is interested in supporting student wellbeing through various channels. She has been a student of yoga since the early 1970s and began teaching hatha yoga in 2004. On the personal front: she loves hanging out with her husband, teenage son, Dachshund, and other friends; movies; singing; and watching clouds.


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