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Communicating Our Culture

by Lecturer in Lifelong Learning (TEL) at University of Strathclyde on Sep 15, 2009


Communicating our culture... with a little help from the web! ...

Communicating our culture... with a little help from the web!

This presentation will focus on the practicalities of using online tools to teach English Communication Skills to Japanese first-year college students, and on the development of a new approach where the use of the web 2.0 plays an important role.

The web today is a great potential for access to information and different means of communication and interaction. From asynchronous discussions to real-time conversations, we can find a wealth of worldwide resources both static and human.

Another positive factor of importance to EFL teaching and learning is that a majority of these resources are in English.

Thus, in a subject area such as English Communication skills, use of the web enhances the learning experience and provides the students with contextualized learning opportunities in which the subject matter being studied -- that is, English -- is applied immediately.

The aim of this project was to "expose" the students to a real audience while providing them with "working tools" which might prove useful in the future.

This project was based in Japan, involved an EFL teacher and 13 first-year students from a Japanese college, and counted on remote collaboration from a Learning Technologist based in the UK to provide help with the ICT component.

The course was organized as follows:

* Students attended face-to-face classes to learn about communication techniques and skills
* Tutorials on how to search for information online and how to produce their presentations were provided
* For assessment purposes, students were asked to present a topic of their choice through an e-conference room and aiming at an online audience. E-room use rehearsal sessions were conducted before the official presentation day.
* Teacher evaluation focussed on the integration of communication techniques and skills as well as their ability to negotiate meaning and understanding with the audience. Some consideration was also given to the effort shown in the research and preparation of the presentation.
* Due to time constraints and other unforeseen circumstances, the original plan of uploading a recording of the presentations with student reflections to a blog and making it available for comments by others was not possible. At this time an informal peer evaluation was also carried out.



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