Disinformation and Propaganda from a Multilingual and Cultural Perspective in an Intermediate Language Classroom

As a global phenomenon, Fake News circulates across languages and cultures, deeply affecting public discourse and information practices of people in different countries. Language classes can play a crucial role in enabling students to investigate trends, differences, and similarities in Fake News and their role in shaping public opinion. Combating the multi-faceted problem of mis/disinformation requires research and community engagement. Thus, in the Fall of 2022, students in my Spanish class researched the issues and worked with a journalist from the Duke Reporter’s Lab to learn about the process of fact-checking. As a result, their final project consisted of Public Service announcements about the neuroscience behind fake news, the effect on family relationships and how to identify fake news and deepfake technology. The is class is party of a larger multilingual project, and in Spring of 2023, three sections of the course will be taught in French, Italian, and Spanish and students will work across languages to track fake news and develop new ways to fight it. I will talk about the linguist aspects of fake news analysis and the digital tools that students work with to understand it.

Author: Eileen Anderson