Beyond bits, bytes, pixels and sprites


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If we accept that language, culture and identity are intertwined, the knowledge of a foreign language should heighten this awareness and understanding as it provides insight into other patterns of meaning and experience. However, in many contexts, little or superficial attention is given to this live, complex inter-cultural, inter-disciplinary and personal dimension of learning a new language so the experience remains fragmented and frustrating for learners and teachers alike.

How do we move from bits, bytes, pixels and sprites to connecting the dots?

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  • Wilga Rivers, in her 1976 book Speaking in many tongues: Essays in foreign language teaching says: We must find out what our students are interested in. This is our subject matter. As language teachers we are the most fortunate of teachers – all subjects are ours. The essence of language teaching is providing conditions for language learning – using the motivation which exists to increase our student's knowledge of the new language: we are limited only by our own caution, by our own hesitancy to do whatever our imagination suggests to us to create situations in which students feel involved …We need not be tied to a curriculum created for another situation or another group. We must adapt, innovate, improvise, in order to meet the student where he is and channel his motivation. Go for it.
  • Let ’s connect these dots!
  • Beyond bits, bytes, pixels and sprites

    1. 1. Beyond bits, bytes, pixels and sprites Barbara (Bee) Dieu 56th NECTFL "Engaging Communities: The World Is Our Classroom" New York, April 17th 2009
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    5. 10. REALITY “ Only 9% of Americans can speak their native language plus another language fluently, as opposed to 53% of Europeans ” American Counsel of the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL)
    6. 11. “ Great cultures (in other words, great nations speaking ‘great’ languages) only too often fall into the collective illusion that they can be self-sufficient. They believe they are endowed by divine right with the mission to enrich the world and enlighten the others. And inasmuch as they are willing to receive something from these others, it is only in dribs and drabs, as some exotic spices which they may use to season their own dishes, something they do not really need, something they could easily do without but, since it gets some talk in polite society and you find it served in good restaurants, well, why not have a taste at it? ” Antonin Liehm, “Du provincialisme” (On Provincialism), in « Lettres internationales », 18, Autumn 1988
    7. 13. “ ... you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life. ”
    8. 14. <ul><li>How did you first get aware of a foreign language? Was it a positive encounter? </li></ul><ul><li>Did you connect the language to a community of speakers and/or a culture? </li></ul><ul><li>What were your reactions? </li></ul><ul><li>Is it the same language you are teaching today? </li></ul><ul><li>Did you acquire it or learn it? </li></ul>
    9. 15. Grandmothre
    10. 16. Traveling
    11. 17. Italy
    12. 18. Bee and Pierre
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    15. 23. The Web
    16. 24. Communities of Practice
    17. 25. Isolated By Alec Couros
    18. 26. Connected By Alec Couros
    19. 29. [email_address] THANK YOU!