EUROCALL 2014

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Pedagogical added value of mobile web devices to enhance students’ language production in real-life contexts

Every year, our language centre organises an excursion to a Flemish city as part of its Dutch course. The students considered here are last year’s engineering students. Our institute organises this excursion in order to place the students in a natural, learner-centred and interactive context so as to motivate students to communicate with native Dutch-speakers. By creating a questionnaire, we want the students to get to know the local people, the history, the monuments, the general local culture and the specialities of the town. We want to create unexpected situations in which the students have to react to what they read, hear and see through speaking and writing.

The trip consists of three principle phases:
1. Classroom preparation is based on the Learning-by-Doing-Principle: the Flemish city is introduced via an online film and several online listening exercises. Using our IT resources, the students have to look up all the necessary information in order to carry out the tasks by themselves accordingly, such as making reservations (transport, museums, etc.).. They also have to make an appointment with a former student of our establishment who now works at a university in the Flemish city intended to be visited.
2. The excursion of 2013 was quite basic with regard to the use of material available. Students, each equipped with a pen and paper, had to discover the city and communicate in Dutch with the locals, asking them questions and noting down their answers.
3. The feedback from this excursion was, until the last excursion in 2013, also quite old-fashioned with the questionnaires being corrected during a classroom-based discussion.
Kozma and Johnston showed the enrichment of computers for students learning in 1991 and the use of IT has been promoted by many since then(Abeles, 1998; Prégent et al, 2009; Kuh and Vesper, 2001). Seeing our students constantly checking their mobile phones inspired us to rethink the concept of our excursion for 2014. For the next excursion, we have transformed these devices from a distraction to an enrichment, making use of our own portable CMS. This enables us to implement the students’ own contemporary communication habits in order to achieve a higher level of authenticity and motivation. Students can use the cameras on their mobile phones to record some of their activities and post them online. Fellow students can react and the teacher(s) can check and correct this material at a later time. Furthermore, we demonstrate how this technology supports the Learning-by-Doing-Principle and how the students’ online recordings and self-made documents can improve subsequent feedback.
We shall present and justify the platforms and mobile devices chosen to develop this private network as the basis of our excursion. We shall illustrate the influence of our CMS on individual learning, group dynamics and particularly spontaneous language production of our students. We shall explain how a competition based on online posts and comments encourages spontaneous interactivity in a foreign language. Moreover, we shall describe how the use of our CMS influences the role of teachers, their supervision and their way of evaluating student commitment.

Author(s):

Leen Stevens    
Centre for Modern Languages
UMONS
Belgium

MA modern Languages 2009, MA Business Economics in 2011.
Content development for Franel.eu , Dutch teacher in BA Human Sciences and MA Engineering sciences

 

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