The Linguist

The Linguist 57,2 – April/May 2018

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

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Students interacting in 'lingua franca' groups experience lower levels of anxiety APRIL/MAY The Linguist 17 FEATURES Acquisition) project and its sequel, TeCoLa (Pedagogical differentiation through telecollaboration and gaming for intercultural and content integrated language teaching), both funded by the European Commission and led by Dr Kristi Jauregi (Utrecht University). I have been fortunate to be part of both initiatives, as project partner through my research activity at the University of Roehampton (London). TILA and TeCoLa are based on empowering secondary- school language teachers to embrace telecollaboration as an approach to language teaching. A researcher/coach is assigned to every pair of teachers and accompanies them every step of the way, from preparation to implementation and evaluation of their telecollaborative practices. Since 2012, a vast network of secondary school teachers has been created across France, Germany, Holland, Spain and the UK, with 269 teachers being trained on how to use telecollaboration and around 400 secondary-school students engaging in telecollaborative exchanges. Telecollaboration does not have to be complicated; there is a vast range of options to choose from. For the adventurous, virtual worlds may be the most appealing telecollaboration environment. These integrate voice and chat capabilities; students are represented by avatars, which are fully customisable and can move around freely – walking, running, flying and even dancing. The TeCoLa Virtual World includes French, German, Spanish and English villages where students can develop activities such as role play, guided tours and treasure hunts. For those who prefer to take it one step at a time, asynchronous activities can be just as motivating. From creating a collaborative survey about stereotypes on Surveymonkey, to designing a quiz about cultural knowledge on Kahoot or building a joint virtual wall about personal preferences on Padlet, the possibilities are endless. The key is to design meaningful telecollaborative tasks that arouse the students' interest. Feedback from students and teachers has been very encouraging so far. A group of students in Holland who took part in the TILA project thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Their Spanish teacher, Elvira Verheijen, commented: "I am so enthusiastic that I want to spend more time and energy on it because I can really see that it contributes to the learning process of a student. What really motivates me is seeing how students negotiate and how they become enthusiastic and nervous but eventually complete the task." As more schools get involved, a growing number of students are benefitting from telecollaboration practices through Europe and beyond. The TeCoLa team is looking for enthusiastic language teachers who would like to try telecollaboration. We provide bespoke training and do our best to match up partner classes. For more information, contact Notes 1 Kohonen, V (1994) 'Teaching Content through a Foreign Language is a Matter of School Development'. Opinion Papers, 120, 61-72 2 O'Dowd, R (2014) 'Intercultural Communicative Competence through Telecollaboration'. In Jackson, J (ed.) The Routledge Handbook of Language and Intercultural Communication, 340-356 3 Jauregi, K, Melchor-Couto, S and van den Bergh, R (2015) 'The Role of Linguistic Self-confidence and Language Anxiety in Telecollaboration among Secondary School Pupils'. In TILA Research Report 4 Pennock-Speck, B and Clavel-Arroitia, B (2015) 'Comparing Negotiation of Meaning in Intercultural Telecollaboration Exchanges under English as a Lingua Franca and Tandem Conditions. In ibid. 5 Lofthouse, R, Leat, D and Towler, C (2010) Coaching for Teaching and Learning: A practical guide for schools. Reading: CfBT Education Trust

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