Ruby Vurdien Leon


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Presentation by Ruby Vurdien at the Eurocall CMC SIG workshop in Leon, Spain

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Ruby Vurdien Leon

  1. 1. <ul><li>“ Computer-Based Intercultural Competence: A Critical Analysis of an Email Project between Students of Four Different Countries” </li></ul>EUROCALL CMC SIG WORKSHOP Researching Computer Mediated Communication in Foreign Language Education: Issues and Methods White Rose Language School Valladolid, Spain Ruby Vurdien Contact: 23 rd – 25 th April 2009
  2. 2. Overview of Presentation <ul><li>Introduction </li></ul><ul><li>- Research questions </li></ul><ul><li>Overview of study </li></ul><ul><li>Problems </li></ul><ul><li>Analysis of data </li></ul><ul><li>Findings </li></ul><ul><li>Conclusion </li></ul>
  3. 3. Introduction <ul><li>What is Intercultural Competence? </li></ul><ul><li>- Taylor (1994) defines intercultural competence “as a transformative process whereby the “stranger” develops adaptive capacity, altering his or her perspective to understand and accommodate the demands of the host culture effectively” (p. 385, cited in Davis et al ., 2005) </li></ul>
  4. 4. Introduction <ul><li>- In foreign language learning the term “intercultural competence” is used to reflect the view that language students need to have an insight into their own culture and that of the language they are learning, as well as need to be aware of the meeting of cultures that often takes place in communication situations in the foreign language. (Kramsch, 1993) </li></ul>
  5. 5. Research Questions <ul><li>What can students learn about each other’s culture throughout the email exchange? </li></ul><ul><li>How can students discover and interpret information? </li></ul><ul><li>To what degree can students develop cultural awareness? </li></ul><ul><li>In what way can the teacher help to promote intercultural competence in classroom situations? </li></ul>
  6. 6. <ul><li>Email Project </li></ul><ul><li>- Task based </li></ul><ul><li>Length: 15 weeks </li></ul><ul><li>Frequency of email exchange: once a week </li></ul><ul><li>Number of Participants:20 </li></ul><ul><li>Countries: Spain (10) (NNS; Level B2), Germany(5) (NNS; Level B2), Austria (1) (NNS; Level B2) and the USA (4) (NS) </li></ul>Overview of Study
  7. 7. Overview of Study <ul><li>Tasks </li></ul><ul><li>Introducing themselves </li></ul><ul><li>Talking about their leisure time, likes and dislikes, interests, customs and traditions </li></ul><ul><li>Interviewing each other about their learning styles </li></ul><ul><li>Comparing their university education systems and university experience </li></ul>
  8. 8. Overview of Study <ul><li>Task </li></ul><ul><li>Example of exchange of information about education system (Spanish-American participants) </li></ul><ul><li>First, the educational system in Spain. Normally when you are 3 or 4 years old you start the school. There are several possibilities. You can go to a private school (where you have to pay) and you can go to a public school (you don´t pay or you pay a simbolic amount of money). In the middle there are schools where you only pay in the last years of the school...They are called &quot;concertados schools&quot;..I went to a school of the last type. My parents didn´t have to pay anything at the begging but in my last four years of school they had to pay every year a certain amount of money...In Spain going to school is compulsory until the age of 16 years old. Then you can decide if you want to keep studying for two years more in the school and afterthat either going to the university or a professional formation (I think it is called vocational training)..or you can decide not to keep studying and either doing a professional formation or working...If you keep studying, then when you are 18 years old you´ll finish the school and as I say before you can go to the University or if you don´t want you can do two or three years of professional formation and then working or going to University...So as you can see there are a lot of possibilities for the students of going to the University. If you decide to go to the University after finishing school with 18 years old, then you have to pass an exam called &quot;Examen de Selectividad&quot; where you will be asked questions about all the modules that you have taken in your last year of school...So if you have chosen in the school a science itinerary you´ll have an exam of maths, an exam of chemistry, an exam of physics, an exam of technical drawing, an exam of spanish language...After the exam that normally takes three days...then you ´ll obtain a global mark and that is the mark that allows you to go to the university. If you fail the exam then you will have to repeat it because if you want to go to the university, no matter what you are going to study, you need to pass it..Some University degrees also require to have had an specific mark in the Selectividad exam...For example, if you want to study medicine then you need to have a higher mark than if you want to study another degree (at least in my city)..It depends on the degree and on the city. In Spain there are University degrees of 3 years and University degrees of 5 years. Afterthat you obtain a diploma and then you can start to find your first professional job, or keep studying and do a master and work afterwards or stay in the university and investigate....So there are different alternatives for those who finish university. The problem is that almost the majority of the students go to the University in Spain even if some of them don´t want to go and don´t like to study...It´s like if going to the University is something fashionable...and if you don´t go it bad seen...Now things are changing although this way of thinking is normal in many people and in many parents... Spanish participant (Extract from email) </li></ul>
  9. 9. Overview of study <ul><li>Task </li></ul><ul><li>Example of exchange of information about education system (Spanish-American participants) </li></ul><ul><li>Yeah your education system is very similar to mine. Except, well i am not completely sure, but we start school at around 4 or 5 or so and that is called pre school. after preschool, we go to elementary school at around age 7 where a grade system starts. ... When you start high school, you are either 13 or 14 years old. and graduate at either 17 or 18. During high school, nearly everyone starts to go &quot;bad&quot;. The legal drinking age here is 21, but nearly half the people in high school drink, smoke cigarettes (you have to be 18 to smoke cigarettes), or smoke marijuana, which is illegal no matter what age. And also people start to have sex a lot. I would not be surprised if the same thing happens where you live, but maybe at a younger or older age... I'm not sure if you know this, but Universities can also be called a college but a community college cannot be called a university. A university specifically is a big college where they have dormitories and housing and is very expensive. But yeah that is pretty much how our system works. Hope to hear from you soon . (American participant) (Extract from email) </li></ul>
  10. 10. Overview of Study <ul><li>Talking about Christmas celebration </li></ul><ul><li>Answering your question, I will explain a bit about Spanish traditions in Christmas. Families usually meet on Christmas eve (24th December) to have dinner. In some houses they give presents to each others. I don't know there, but here there are a lot of families that don't get on well, I mean, they are not very happy together... so, how can I explain... there is a lot of legend in the happy Christmas holidays. </li></ul><ul><li>Then, in New Years Eve, we have dinner together again (those who can, jajaja) and we wait until 12.00 to eat grapes. Spanish tradition consist on eating 12 grapes. We wait until the clocks start announcing the 00.00 hour. And eat 12 grapes. People usually watch on TV the Madrid Big Clock, placed in one famous square called &quot;Plaza del Sol&quot;. That's what we do in my house. Then, young people go out to celebrate with their friends the new year arrival. As it's usually very cold, a lot of people go to parties which are given in hotels or discos. But there are people who go &quot;bar hopping&quot;. (Spanish participant) (Extract from email) </li></ul><ul><li>I also wanna go back, because we have very nice christmas markets in Germany at the moment. Do you also have such a thing in spain? There are a lot of little stands with warm drinks, like &quot;mulled wine&quot; for instance, and stands with handcrafts, christmas food, clothes etc.. I always get into a kind of christmas mood when I go to these markets... so I'm keen on getting home and going there before christmas. </li></ul><ul><li>(German participant (Extract from email) </li></ul><ul><li>At christmas day, we always have a big party called &quot;Weihnachtssession&quot;. It is in the biggest hall in my home town, and everyone is coming. Of course there were 9 bands playing mostly coversongs but the most interesting thing at this party is to meet old friends from school (Austrian participant) (Extract from email). </li></ul>
  11. 11. Research Methods <ul><li>Emails (204) </li></ul><ul><li>Largest number of emails per partnership: 15 </li></ul><ul><li>Smallest number of emails per partnership: 4 </li></ul><ul><li>- Questionnaires </li></ul><ul><li>Interviews </li></ul><ul><li>Participant observation (class discussions) </li></ul>
  12. 12. Problems <ul><li>Modification of sample of Spanish participants </li></ul><ul><li>Withdrawal of three Spanish participants </li></ul><ul><li>Replacement of the latter </li></ul><ul><li>Irregular submission of email </li></ul><ul><li>Non-completion of certain tasks </li></ul><ul><li>Discontinuity of correspondence </li></ul>
  13. 13. Analysis of Data <ul><li>Pre-formed categories based on Byram’s (1990) model of intercultural competence: skills, attitude, knowledge and critical awareness </li></ul><ul><li>Emergent issue (Globalisation) </li></ul>
  14. 14. Findings <ul><li>What students learnt about each other’s culture </li></ul><ul><li>- Depiction of an image of themselves </li></ul><ul><li>(different from stereotyped image) </li></ul><ul><li>- First-hand information </li></ul><ul><li>(different from knowledge acquired in books, films) </li></ul><ul><li>- Knowledge based mainly on personal experience </li></ul>
  15. 15. <ul><li>How Students Discovered and Interpreted Information </li></ul><ul><li>Interviewing each other to elicit pertinent information </li></ul><ul><li>Collaborating with each other </li></ul><ul><li>- Not always showing awareness of how to elicit pertinent data </li></ul><ul><li>Not always a deep exploration of data in certain emails </li></ul>Findings
  16. 16. Findings <ul><li>Students’ Attitude to Cultural Awareness </li></ul><ul><li>Attitude generally positive </li></ul><ul><li>Curiosity and openness towards each other </li></ul><ul><li>A feeling of empathy developed with target culture </li></ul><ul><li>No change of opinion noticed due to project’s short duration (some students) </li></ul>
  17. 17. Findings <ul><li>How the teacher helped in classroom situations </li></ul><ul><li>Guide </li></ul><ul><li>Facilitator of knowledge (helping with language production and devising worksheets for class discussions) </li></ul>
  18. 18. Findings <ul><li>Globalisation </li></ul><ul><li>Similar interests and hobbies </li></ul><ul><li>Adoption of customs and traditions from each other’s countries </li></ul><ul><li>English as a global language for communication </li></ul>
  19. 19. Conclusion <ul><li>Increased motivation </li></ul><ul><li>Collaborative skills </li></ul><ul><li>Development of relationship/friendship </li></ul><ul><li>Global interests </li></ul>
  20. 20. Conclusion <ul><li>Final thoughts </li></ul><ul><li>Successful implementation of technology as an innovation in my teaching activity </li></ul><ul><li>An insight into how my students view culture through their own eyes and those of their counterparts </li></ul>