Language Education Policy Studies
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Deep Approach to Language Learning 

Deep Education (Tochon, 2011, 2010) as a philosophical movement has led to an approach to language learning that embraces social action, self-determination, knowledge building and self-discovery, examination and reflection on both the part of the teacher and students. The deep approach (DA) “aims to integrate humans in their social, cultural, and ecological environment and develop environmental ethics and social justice in the professions” (Tochon, 2012). It is the opposite of learning in a vacuum, where students are given an arbitrary activity or task because the teacher has mandated so (and participation grades count on their completing the task at hand), only to forget the information the next day. Tochon's Deep Approach has a transformative mindset for both students and teacher for action in and through autonomous cooperation in learning environments that naturally leads to social agency. The DA espouses the fomenting continuous inquiry as a part of a lifelong learning process where students are situated for deep apprenticeships that are social in nature and incite multivariate types of “interaction and socialization through cooperative projects to enhance knowledge, skills and experiences within contexts” in an authentic, informal and collaborative manner that is student-generated and student-negotiated (Tochon, 2011, p. 54). Central to deep learning is the student as social actor and agent in realizing and negotiating projects and the rules of engagement for and within his own creation. As creator or co-creator, he is accountable to himself and to his team; thus, the power dynamic in this context is embodied within the social agent(s). Thus, the transdisciplinary, deep stage of learning hinges upon learner autonomy within his commitments.


The 2007 Modern Language Association Ad Hoc Committee on Foreign Languages report entitled "Foreign Language and Higher Education: New Structures for a Changed World," posits that "the language major should be structured to produce a specific outcome: educated speakers who have deep translingual and transcultural competence" without specifying exactly what this competence entails or strategies for achieving these goals (Schechtman & Koser, 2008). Tochon further clarifies another main problem in language instruction: “lack of critical depth and deep content is often noted in language instruction” (2014, p. 340) while Kramsch calls for a pedagogy that is more reflective, interpretive, culturally and historically grounded as well as politically engaged (2014). Tochon’s theory of Deep Education (DE) and Schaules’ conception of deep culture necessitate the exploration of culture within each discipline in order to fundamentally understand historical movements and decisions and to move forward to consider current questions and needs in each profession and field. “One goal of the Deep Approach is the internationalization of the mind for better understanding and peace building across cultures” (Tochon, 2014, p. 294). In this way, the deep approach to education allows for the repositioning of one’s self and outside of one’s self in order to consider multiple, varying perspectives from differing cultures and backgrounds, a key component of any world language learning.



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This information was originally published on the website of the International Network for Language Education Policy Studies ( as

Busciglio, Daniela. (2016). Deep Approach to Language Learning. In F. V. Tochon (Ed.), Language Education Policy Studies (online). Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin—Madison. Retrieved from: (access date). 

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