LACOL’s Language Instruction Working Group focuses on both theory and effective practices for teaching languages and literatures, using the latest networked technologies to enhance the learning experience.
Activities and Interests of this working group include:
LESSER TAUGHT LANGUAGE GROUP: Partnering across our member schools to build online or blended course modules for lesser taught languages
In May 2017, LACOL’s Language Instruction working group held a 3-day intensive workshop (also known as a hack-a-thon) to prototype a shared online diagnostic and refresher framework. The face-to-face event was organized by Mike Jones, Director of the Language Resource Center and Media Lab at Swarthmore College, guided by a core team of faculty and language technologists at the participating institutions.
Christopher M. Jones
Teaching Professor of French and Computer-Assisted Language Learning
Carnegie Mellon University
Christopher M. Jones is Interim Head and Teaching Professor of French and Computer-Assisted Language Learning in the Department of Modern Languages at Carnegie Mellon University. He was Director of the Modern Language Resource Center from 1993 to 2016 and founder and Director of the Masters in Applied Second Language Acquisition from 2010 to 2016. He has spoken, published and consulted widely in the area of technology-enhanced language learning. His materials development experience includes textbook authoring, CD-ROM design and programming, and on-line courseware creation in French, Chinese, Spanish and Arabic. He was a participant in the interdisciplinary Pittsburgh Science of Learning Center and continues to be an active member of the Open Learning Initiative at Carnegie Mellon.
Goals for the LACOL Language Instruction hack-a-thon:
1. Explore development of shared diagnostic and bridge/refresher framework for language instruction that could support students in identifying and closing gaps in knowledge and skills.
2. Engage faculty as content creators, working with professional staff and students for technical support and data input.
3. Build prototypes of a diagnostic test and refresher module; these could serve as models for further development of online testing and teaching materials for sharing across the Consortium.
4. Document results and recommendations for continued collaboration.
In an increasingly globalized world, students are seeking ways to learn languages that are not commonly taught at schools in the United States. While self-instructional language programs (SILP) afford many opportunities to explore lesser-taught languages like Hindi, Korean, or Swahili, the scope of each program is limited. A new online collaboration will allow each program to tap into resources that other colleges in the consortium have, e.g. native speakers in the community that can serve as tutors, or advanced level instruction in certain languages. Students will have additional opportunities to explore new paths within their liberal arts education.
Many of the colleges within the consortium offer some form of guided self-instruction of lesser-taught languages already. The new LACOL project will launch a collaboration between the Self-Instructional Language Programs at Pomona, Vassar, and Williams College, using online synchronous classroom-to-classroom interaction. As Lioba Gerhardi, Vassar’s Coordinator of the Self-Instructional Language Program and Adjunct Assistant Professor of German Studies says:
By sharing resources, the partners will be able to increase the number of self-instructional languages available to students in an innovative and cost-effective manner.
The self-instructional component of each language course will remain unchanged. Each student will enroll for the course at their home institution. For speaking and listening practice, students will join conversational tutorial sessions at a partnering college via video conferencing software, such as Zoom.
As a preview and prelude to LACOL’s “Language Instruction Hack-a-thon” next May at Swarthmore College (http://lacol.net/language-hackathon), you are cordially invited to join a team meeting on Monday, December 12, 2016. This session is particular relevant for faculty and technologists with an interest in language placement/diagnostics and refreshers, and especially anyone who is curious to know more about plans for the hack-a-thon.
Meeting:LACOL Language Instruction: pre-hack-a-thon brainstorm on language placement, diagnostics and refreshers
Special Guest Speakers:
Chico Zimmerman, Professor of Classics, Carleton College
Clara Hardy, Professor of Classics, Carleton College
To launch the conversation, Professors Zimmerman and Hardy from Carleton College will share an update on their Latin placement project. Throughout the summer and fall, they have been designing a more effective placement test for Latin and exploring a number of web-based tools/platforms for delivery – see: http://lacol.net/latin-placement-lacol2016. Thought focused on Latin content, their work provides excellent food for thought with broad relevance to diagnostics and refreshers for modern languages as well.
The remainder of the session will focus on plans for the hack-a-thon. What are the shared goals? What pre-work can help to lay a solid foundation? What kinds of productive “hands on” work can faculty and technologist do together in person in May?
A small group of faculty has done some brainstorming about the hack-a-thon already. We will share initial ideas and build from there.
At the June LACOL workshop, Swarthmore Classics Professor William Turpin gave a presentation during the Adaptive Learning breakout on his investigations into various digital tools to support students with learning and practice of Latin and Greek. As shown in the short slideshow below, Turpin is experimenting with platforms such as Fluenz and Smart Sparrow which offer a variety of modes for presenting interactive content and adaptive drills to students.
Alongside presentations from two other speakers in the session, Turpin’s experiments sparked a robust Q&A on the useful applications for supporting student learning through adaptive tools, and also concerns regarding data and content portability when considering the use of proprietary software. It is clear that the promises and potential pitfalls of adaptive learning for the liberal arts will remain a keen focus of interest for the Consortium.
Slides (no audio) from William Turpin’s investigations into adaptive tools for Latin learning.
At the LACOL workshop in June, classicist Chico Zimmerman from Carleton College shared a short plenary talk entitled, “Toward a better Latin placement test”, also known as, “A Tale of Two Arcadian Friends, a Homocidal Innkeeper, and a Pile of Manure.”
In their teaching, faculty strive to meet students where they are, but often must ask, where exactly ARE they? For incoming students at Carleton, the Classics department found that their Latin placement test was not giving enough granular diagnostic information, especially for less experienced students. To address this need, Zimmerman and his colleages are investigating a variety of adaptive tools and platforms with the potential to help them better understand and guide their students at the appropriate level.
In the video clip below, Zimmerman shares details on Carleton’s experiments thus far with Moodle, Assistments, Smart Sparrow, and other tools. Similar themes of adaptive and digitally-enhanced support for language instruction and other disciplines were explored in sessions throughout the two-day workshop program.
Chico Zimmerman explores tools for better language placement at the LACOL workshop.
Following discussions and collaborations mostly via Zoom in the fall of 2015, Mark Andrews, Baynard Bailey, Thomas Parker of Vassar College and Virginie Pouzet-Duzer of Pomona College are looking for new LACOL partners who would be interested in adding a digital storytelling element to their fourth semester French classroom.
French Digital Storybook created by Vassar students Rafaela Vega del Castillo, Rose Clarfeld & David Sparks.
The current project started at Vassar College when Susan Hiner (Dept. French and Francophone Studies) received a grant to create a course for teaching intermediate French based on authentic French and Francophone story books.
The premise is that during the semester students learn French in the same way a Francophone child would through authenticate cultural material. During the semester, students “grow up,” beginning with illustrated nursery rhymes, songs, fairy tales, myths, and fables then short stories, bandes dessinées, animated movies, and concluding with adolescent literature.
Attached to these texts, the course proposes grammar and writing exercises combined with interpretative and creative exercises, all launched through a digital platform. Most importantly, the course features a student-authored semester-long storybook that students write, illustrate, animate, and narrate in French on a digital platform.
The course has been through several iterations as part of a collaborative effort in Vassar’s FFS department, primarily between Susan Hiner, Mark Andrews, and myself, Thomas Parker, with the active involvement of a succession of French Language Fellows (visiting French assistants). We have been having much success with students who adore the creative element of the course (the book writing), the strong visual emphasis and engaging content of the authentic source material (children’s books), and the different elements and non-traditional pedagogical strategies it provides.
For the technology aspect, we’ve worked closely an instructional technologist – Baynard Bailey. He works with the students to help them to construct their storybooks in Final Cut Pro X. Most students make illustrations by hand, scan them and then import the images into their digital books. Students then record their voiceovers, adding sound effects, music and animation to complement their stories. The videos are exported and uploaded to YouTube, and the scripts go into the closed captions. We’ve refined the process over the years and the evolution of the student work can be seen at http://pages.vassar.edu/ffs-digital-storytelling.
Now we are seeking partners and support to improve the course with colleagues. Our first partner is Virginie Pouzet-Duzer at Pomona College. In the fall of 2016, she is planning to incorporate several features from our version of French 206 into her French 44. She is going to keep the focus on fairy tales, but her syllabus partially let go of the texts originally aimed at a younger audience. Also, she is planning on adding a remote presentation of the final projects, having students from Pomona and Vassar share with each others using Skype or Zoom. (more…)
A creative Latin professor at Swarthmore College has been using technology to extend informal learning beyond the boundaries of Swarthmore. For the last three summers, Prof. William Turpin has hosted a free, public, online course on Medieval Latin translation. He has been assisted by colleagues Bruce Venarde (University of Pittsburgh), Carin Ruff (Hill Museum & Manuscript Library) and Jen Faulkner (East Longmeadow High School, MA), who helped him to facilitate the weekly sessions. According to Prof. Turpin:
The intention of this course is to replicate to the extent possible the experience of a student in (say) a college Latin class at the early intermediate level, minus the quizzes, tests, and continuing assessment, there is no mechanism for awarding credit or certificates of attendance. The most immediate model, in fact, may be an informal reading group devoted to a particular ancient or medieval text. The basic premise is that a small community of interested participants can both encourage and enhance what is essentially a private encounter with a text.
At Swarthmore College, Associate Provost and Professor of German and Film and Media Studies Sunka Simon and Associate Professor of French Carina Yervasi, collaborated with Ashesi University Professor Mikelle Antoine to create an interactive online course that examines questions of nationality, globalization, race and ethnicity, and gender and sexuality through the lens of global diasporic communities. Using a “globally-networked learning environment,” the course entitled Re-Envisioning Diasporas was the first synchronous, hybrid course taught between Swarthmore College and Ashesi University in Ghana. The classes worked in joint video-conferenced sessions twice a week to explore how displaced peoples worldwide address these challenging questions while living in a perpetual state of “elsewhere.”
What I’m discovering is that our model of learning is very different from the traditional model of distance learning. Our model is collaborative; it’s not student-professor online learning where the students are interacting with just the professor. [ … ] The students have to write and interact with each other. We’ve used writing, blogs, forums, Youtube, Skype and VoiceThread … I like that we’re using these technologies to connect in new ways.