Experiential Learning

Experiential Learning is our distinctive approach to language education. Experiential learning is basically “learning by doing”; its benefits for learners are well documented, and there is a growing body of research papers suggesting that the most important aspect of experiential learning is its potential to have a deep impact on the personal development of the individual learner. Experiential learning relies heavily on the learner’s engagement in the knowledge acquisition process, and the connection between personal or societal needs with content knowledge as they inform and transform each other (U of T Mississauga White Paper on Experiential Learning).

Although we offer courses that are descriptively similar to those of St. George, the distinctive feature of our programs lies definitely in the student-oriented approach and its experiential/applied nature. LS has determined that its vision and the general orientation of its programs be focused on a student-centered approach rather than the traditional teacher-centered one. As a result, we have designed our programs and courses to enrich the experience of our students, both inside and outside the formal curriculum, by engaging them in communities beyond the university.

In the area of experiential learning, LS has been both active and innovative. For example, the LIN section has developed an applied stream within which students explore the impact of pedagogy on language teaching, analyze the relationships between language and society or simply engage in the intensive application of linguistic knowledge to the learning of English (see English Language Linguistics program).

The ITA section has a long-standing experience and expertise in the organization of its annual Italian Play (coupled with full-year courses).

In the FRE section, an innovative joint project between the Library and LS has made possible the integration of Google Earth in oral and written language classroom instruction. FRE has also created a learning community through two major projects: a) weekly ateliers d’écriture, run by doctoral students to provide additional support to students enrolled in writing intensive courses and to help those who want to improve their writing skills (in collaboration with RGASC); and b) the Conversation Hour, to help students improve their communication skills in French with emphasis on oral proficiency and ability to debate on various topics (both academic and non-academic). In addition, FRE has also enhanced students’ experience with career panels and networking events, theatrical performances, and student variety shows. Finally, for some years now, the U of T Mississauga French Prize, funded in part by faculty and student contributions, has been awarded to the best student in second-year at the department’s annual Awards Evening

In the area of scholarly activities, LS has organized conferences, workshops, guest lectures and symposia (i.e. Brock/UTM meeting, the tri-campus international symposium on innovations and challenges of second language pedagogy, lectures delivered by local and international scholars, etc.).

The Department’s journal Mosaic has been recently selected for indexation by both MLA and the ERIC Digital Library (Education Resources Information Center), and we think that the visibility of the Journal as well as its reputation will be enhanced.

Moreover, the LIN and FRE units collaborate with the RGASC in offering Facilitated Study Groups (FSG) as supplemental instruction in a number of courses. The goal of the program is to raise retention rates and improve the overall success of students in the first years of their undergraduate degree. It is implemented with the help of senior students who are trained within the framework of the Supplementary Instruction model of student academic support.