Innovating at the nexus of world languages and cultures and design thinking

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2 Scopus citations


An approach to solving complicated and multileveled issues, design thinking offers strategies for secondary and higher education curricula innovation. Recent scholarship on the teaching and learning of world languages and cultures (WLC) has focused on some of the design thinking aspects: innovation, interpersonal connection, and creativity. Although educating future instructors in design thinking is gaining momentum, existing WLC educators, particularly those in higher education, lack opportunities to learn them. Given the lack of literature at the nexus of design thinking and WLC pedagogy, we conducted a pilot exploratory study to establish a preliminary understanding of instructor motivations, possibilities at the intersection and to develop a framework for empirical research. The study suggests a hands-on tell and show-based workshop has the potential to raise curiosity, and to develop basic design thinking skills and a positive attitude, motivating the instructors to begin to experiment at the nexus. It highlights the need to demonstrate the adaptability of design thinking to WLC but suggests that instructors can identify relevant opportunities. Follow up empirical research is suggested.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)378-396
Number of pages19
Issue number4
StatePublished - Mar 8 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors are grateful to the participants of the workshop held by the authors at Minnesota Council on the Teaching of Languages and Cultures in October 2019. The workshop motivated us to formally explore the application of design thinking for pedagogical innovation.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Design thinking
  • empathy
  • essential skills
  • language learning in the 21st century
  • pedagogical innovation
  • world languages and cultures


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