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Connecting your Learners to Partners in other Countries – A Practical Introduction Robert O'Dowd La Universidad de León email@example.com Are there many cultural differences in our global village? Intercultural Learning Cultural awareness: All behaviour takes its meaning from its particular cultural context Therefore students need to understand how the products and practices of the target culture are viewed through that culture‟s own perspective (“Empathy”) Are we deep down all the same? “There is much apparent uniformity in human social life. But these similarities mask an underlying diversity; in a given situation one cannot assume that the behaviour of two individuals – physical acts with the same form – have the same meaning for the two individuals (Fischer, 1997:126).“ Spanish interpretation – Foreign interpretation What is intercultural competence? Skills: Attitudes: Knowledge: Byram, M. 1997. Teaching and Assessing Intercultural Communicative Competence. Multilingual Matters. (pp. 49-54) The attitudes include curiosity and openness as well as readiness to see other cultures and the speaker‟s own without being judgmental. The required knowledge is ”of social groups and their products and practices in one‟s own and in one‟s interlocutor‟s country, and of the general processes of societal and individual interaction” The skills include skills of interpreting and relating, discovery and interaction as well as critical cultural awareness/political education. Do Textbooks help? The content of EFL textbooks “…assumes a materialistic set of values in which international travel, not being bored, positively being entertained, having leisure, and above all spending money casually in the pursuit of these ends, are the norm”. (Brown, 1990:13) How can New Technologies help? In online intercultural exchange, language learners in different locations use on-line communication tools (such as e-mail, blogs and videoconferencing) in order to engage in collaborative project work, debate and intercultural exchange with each other. Why? On-line interaction with native speakers – when it is organised within a structured format - has great potential for the development of intercultural communicative skills, language proficiency and learner independence. Example 1 Pedro [a secondary school teacher of English as a Foreign Language in Valdepeñas, Spain]: “My students began to write to their American e-pals like one month and a half ago. They have two or three epals for each student and they write like twice or three times a week both in English and Spanish. They also share their blog with their American and Canadian e-pals, who also publish and comment on the posts in both languages. I feel excited about that and I think they really enjoy it.” The class blog: http://2bloginlasolana.blogspot.com/ Example 2 Another teacher writes “EFL teachers from seven countries (Kuwait, Brazil, Argentina, the United States, Sudan, Hungary, and Romania) have brought our classes together online to correspond and to develop joint projects. You can see some of the first efforts by our students in their introductory slideshows, VoiceThreads, animated movies and videos at our Student Showcase: http://esleflstudents.edublogs.org/” What are the origins of Telecollaboration? Célestin Freinet: Students carried out research into areas of personal interest Students published work in school newspapers Correspondence and exchange of newspapers between students in other French schools “Most teachers who have used the Internet have started out with some kind of simple key pal (computer pen pal) exchanges. And most teachers who have used these exchanges have felt something lacking. Simply put, there is no more reason to except a significant educational outcome from simply creating a pen pal connection than there is from simply bringing two students into a room and asking them to talk.” Mark Warschauer & P. Fawn Whittaker (1997) http://iteslj.org/Articles/Warschauer-Internet.html Issues when Designing an Online Exchange 1) How to combine the L1 and L2? 2) Which online communication tools to use? 3) What should the students do/discuss together? 4) Should there be an explicit focus on form? 5) What should be the role of the teacher? 6) How should the exchange activity be assessed? 1) How to combine the L1 and L2? The Tandem Approach: “…this entails that each partner should communicate as closely as possible to half in his/her mother tongue and half in his/her target language. This grants both learners the opportunity to practise speaking and writing in their target language and listening to and reading text written by their native speaking partner.” http://www.slf.ruhr-uni-bochum.de/etandem/etindex- en.html Hey Pablo! It was great to receive your letter. I was so happy to see that you responded to my questions. Thank you. Your responses were very informative and definitely showed me that family life in Spain was not all I'd expected it to be (I was surprised, for example, that your family is not religious. I assumed that most families in Spain are, and I'm sure you have many assumptions about life in America as well). Your English is very good. There are only a few suggestions that I have to correct it. Some of your sentences are too long, and would make more sense if you separated them into two or three sentences instead. For example, "My parents are not divorced in Spain there are very few cases of divorced" could be rewritten as "My parents are not divorced. In Spain there are very few cases of divorce." Your letter was great and made sense despite these things. Good work. Las fiestas en the ciudad de Nueva York son muy locas y emocionantes. Voy a las discotecas con mis amigas los jueves, los viernes, o los sabados. Vamos a los bars tambien. Nosotros volvemos a nos salons de dormitorio a las cuatro de la manana. Queremos bailar a las discotecas. Necesita tener veintiuno anos por beber el alcohol pero la mayoria de estudiantes en las universidades tenen los "fake IDs" y ellos beben el alcohol. … No sabo mucho de Espana. Sabo que hay un museo de Guggenheim en Bilbao y sabo que hay muchos castillos bonitos. Que sabes de los Estados Unidos? Como es la fiesta en Espana? Elena The Cultura Approach: “To have students write in the forums in their "native" language was also a deliberate choice. We wanted to make sure that students were able to express their thoughts in all their complexity as fully and as naturally as possible…what students may "lose", by not writing in the target language, is largely offset by the gains they make by getting access to a rich, dynamic and totally authentic language.” http://web.mit.edu/french/culturaNEH/ Other possible Approaches? Spanish-American Cultura Students alternate writing in BOTH LANGUAGES in the online interaction. In English-language forums both groups communicate in English and in Spanish- language forums they do so in Spanish. Students read responses in both languages Students always use target language in classroom discussion and analysis Rationale: Pedagogic demands of the institution Better use of class time for students Practises both writing and reading in target language Explore: http://cultura2.wikispaces.com/ firstname.lastname@example.org cultura http://cultura2.wikispaces.com/ email@example.com cultura 2) Which Online Communication Tools to use? In your opinion, what might be the different outcomes of using these different tools? As a teacher, which would you prefer? Asynchronous v. Synchronous tools? E.G. E-mail & Message boards v. Messenger & Chat Oral v. Text-based tools? E.G. Skype, Wimba &Videoconferencing v. All above „Web 2.0 v. „Traditional‟ tools? E.G. Blogs, podcasts & wikis V. All above One experience of Videconferencing My local secondary school (11-18 year-old children) was given vidoconferencing equipment by a local business, which also helped them find a partner school in France, close to the business's French HQ. The school experimented with videoconferencing for several months but finally abandoned it. The head of foreign languages told me that the main reasons were: 1. Difficulties in finding mutually convenient times when the two schools could link up. 2. Lack of time to plan for a session so that it ran smoothly and became really fruitful. 3. Embarrassment of teenagers confronting one another: reluctance to talk and lots of giggling about the hairstyles and clothing of their counterparts. 4. No measurable progress in the students' language skills as a direct result of the videoconferencing sessions. Another Teacher replies: I think that it all comes down to peoples' preferences and context, whether they like video, audio or text conferencing or combinations of the above. Often we forget that. I personally prefer to use text or audio conferencing but context has a part to play. If I have just met someone in SL I will fist interact through text thus keeping a distance until I get to know them. I have found that others agree with me too. The anonymity and privacy offered in full through text and partly through audio are characteristics much valued by users and teenagers especially. Video, on the other hand, offers no privacy. In studies I have carried out I found that teenage students much value their privacy and enjoy text conferecning and hiding behind avatars which they find empowering. Blogs: If you were a foreign student, which one of these blogs would you value more? Why? http://castanaspilongas.blogspot.com/ http://7legion.blogspot.com/ Podcasts Factors to consider when choosing the right Tool(s) Students current online practices and preferences in their social and working lives „Fit‟ of the technology into both socio- institutional contexts: Availability Reliability Location Understanding Technology in Context Spanish student feedback comparing oral and written discussion boards: “I prefer the written one because you don‟t get so nervous and you have more time to think about what you want to say. Also I did not like to speak in the computer lab with my classmates listening to what I was saying.” “It‟s easier to understand them in the written forum because it‟s very difficult to speak with someone that you don‟t see.” 3. What tasks to do with your partner class? “Cultural Presentations” - Exchange with your partners information about their personal biographies, local schools or towns or aspects of their home cultures. “Treasure hunts” – teachers give students a questionnaire about a topic (“How Christmas is celebrated in the USA”) and they have to interview their partners in order to complete the questionnaire. (www.isabelperez.com/x-mas.htm) Collaborative games and simulations – students write to each other to create chain stories or to carry out simulations (e.g. one student is „agony aunt‟ and their partner invents a problem.) http://www.slf.ruhr-uni-bochum.de/tandem/inh01- eng.html Dear partner/ .................................., I will introduce myself to you in this letter. I am ................. twelve/thirteen years old. .........................a boy/girl. .........................a twelve-year-old girl. My surname is ............................... and my first name is........................ People call me ............................................ I have ..............two brothers .......................three sisters. I don't have any brothers or sisters; I am an only child. I live ................... with my father/stepfather .....................……with my mother/stepmother ............................ with my parents with ............ ............................ in a boarding school (or another place where you live when you cannot live with your parents). My parents are divorced. I like ................... football /......................./....................... I love .................. music. I am fond of singing /......................./....................... I am in the .......... sixth form of .......................... (name of school/Germany), I‟m in class 6... I think I am easy-going / moody / nice / terrible / difficult / boring / spontaneous / calm / cool / quiet / lively. I like people who............................................................................................ I don't like people who.................................................................................. […] I am looking forward to hearing from you. Bye for now. (I must go now/ that‟s all for now/ Bye/) (Based on Schlieger, 2001: 19) Practical Example: Cultura http://web.mit.edu/french/culturaNEH/spring2004_sample_site/index.html http://web.mit.edu/french/culturaNEH Questionnaires Answers to the questionnaires 4) Should there be an explicit Focus on Form? • In Tandem learning: • Error-correction by their partners • Working backward from their partners‟ mistakes in the L1 • Refer to structures and vocab used earlier in the L2 by their partner (“noticing”) Problems with focussing on form Students don‟t know how to correct their partners‟ mistakes- How many English natives could explain the difference between „practice‟ and „practise‟ to a non-native Spanish speaker? [A Spanish student after her exchange with an American partner] “It‟s ok but I think there is a bad point. That is that they are not teachers. They can make mistakes too. In the correction she sent me of „firstly‟ she didn‟t realise you can say this in British English.” Some more Problems… Difficulties correcting your partner “I thought, I would seem arrogant if I tried to correct their grammar and their spelling in a casual conversation about the topics. When you‟re speaking to somebody, you don‟t expect them to correct you and it could actually insult them”. [Dana from the USA speaking about her Spanish partner] Schwienhorst (2000): even though students were explicitly encouraged to correct their partners‟ grammar errors, very little evidence of error correction appeared in the transcripts. Perception by students that tandem was primarily a communicative activity? 5) What should be the Role of the Teacher? [A teacher writes to partner teacher] “Do you think there is any need to monitor the discussions or just exchange e-mail addresses and let the students handle the rest? (E-mail to author, 2001)” [Another teacher writes to partner teacher] “On-line exchanges should be integrated into the regular classes in the way which the teacher finds most effective. When students are left to themselves they lose interest in the process fairly soon. As any other teaching/learning process, this should be well-planned, organized and controlled – then it brings results.” Should students`e-mails be read and shared in class? Q: Do you find it useful and interesting when we talk about the exchange in class? A: I think it might be necessary, just to keep it going. But on the other hand it seems uncomfortable to me that I would actually like to discuss (up to a certain degree) rather “private”, or non-superficial subjects, but my e-mails have to be forwarded to at least two people. And the content might be topic of our next meeting... What Approach will you take? Who decides on the content of the tasks and interaction? How often will the online interaction be discussed in class? Do students need guidance in writing and analysing correspondence? Should the teachers intervene/participate in the online interaction? 6) How should the exchange activity be assessed? What do we want to assess? Participation? Development in the L2? Electronic Literacies? Intercultural Competence (skills, attitudes, cultural awareness)? How should it be assessed? Proof of participation Products of interaction (essays, blogs, websites) Reflection on learning (portfolios, diaries) More tomorrow.... This presentation will be available at: http://www3.unileon.es/personal/wwdfmrod/
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