Janet Swaffar and Katherine Arens offer a holistic approach to postsecondary language teaching that integrates the study of literature and culture into every level of the curriculum. By studying multiple genres ranging from popular to elite, students gain an understanding of multiple communicative frameworks - and develop multiple literacies. Swaffar and Arens propose the use of a sequence of template-generated exercises that leads students from basic grammar patterns to a sophisticated grasp of the interrelations among language use, meaning, and cultural context. One example of their approach is the teaching of Laura Esquivel's novel Como agua para chocolate (Like Water for Chocolate). From exercise to exercise, students
- consider use of tense, narrative strategy (the connection between recipes and plot), and the social codes in the novel
- compare the novel with the Hollywood film version (different imagery for different audiences)
- critique promotional descriptions of the film on the Internet
- examine a magazine interview of Esquivel (to expose the interviewer's assumptions)
The authors combine theory and practice, research and personal experience, to present a new, interdisciplinary curriculum that should strengthen the teaching of foreign languages in junior colleges, four-year colleges, and universities.