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VIEWS: 3 PAGES: 47

									    Connecting your Learners to Partners in other Countries
    – A Practical Introduction


Robert O'Dowd
La Universidad de León




robert.odowd@unileon.es
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/
     robert.odowd@unileon.es
     cultura
http://cultura2.wikispaces.com/
    robert.odowd@unileon.es
             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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