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Designing effective hybrid foreign language classes

14/08/2012

by

Merica McNeil, University of Arizona
Thom Thibault, Southern Illinois University
Hélène Ossipov, Arizona State University
Christopher Jones, Carnegie Mellon University
Katie Angus, University of Arizon

the link to the presentation

Hmm, this is an interesting view. Particularly the section on SL. It looks like, SL was used as part of a programme, delivered at a particular institution. In other words, the learners were introduced to a new tool/medium, hence had to learn to use it in order to learn another language.

In my research project, I’d like to investigate the perceptions of learners who are already competent in using the technology. Why? Mainly to focus the research, hence the scope. Increasing the number of variables in a research project simply slows down the process, and would probably require more time and resources to analyse the findings.

So, here’s my (absolutely the last version) scope:

Second Life calling: a multi-user virtual environment helps language learners communicate effectively across the globe.

Learners: Enthusiastic about learning a language AND already competent users of SL (Why? If we use an analogy of choosing a topic/theme in a face to face language class, for example food/cooking, and the majority of the students are teenagers who are part of a group preparing to compete in an international sports event. Well, they’re not really going to be interested in learning the vocabulary of cutting and slicing onions to make soup, are they? But, if we took them outside to a sports field, covered all the terminology of sport, and even invited a famous sports person/celebrity to interview…Do I need to say more?)

In other words, just like the above presentation has highlighted, use (new) technology with those who are interested in it, aka ‘the chicken or the egg theory’. Find a common ground to grab the learners’ interest, the learning will come naturally.

One may argue that some students may not know about the technology (and may actually like it once taught the steps). Yes, that would make an interesting research project too! But not today, well, not in the next 3 months anyway.

To sum up – I’m planning to attract potential learners who already have a presence in SL and would like to learn English as an additional language. (Not those who’d like to learn English as an additional language and have never used SL.)

This in some way helps me immensely as I’ve officially run out of time to introduce my FL students to SL in a PC Lab. This would also make an interesting research topic – the limitations of technology in institutions but I’ll leave it to another day.

Any comments are welcome!

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