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 enhance opportunities for students learning lesser taught languages
CHIANTI: Ample time devoted to collaborative workshopping on CHIANTI, the shared teaching resource for college-level language instruction; participants will explore the resources that have been gathered so far (including student and faculty reflection videos on liberal arts language learning), brainstorm on ideas for the emerging platform, and work on building additional content.
SKILLS DASHBOARD: Demonstration and brainstorming on the language skills question bank and dashboard prototype – initially developed for French last year, with future possibilities for other languages.
DIGITAL TOOLS for LANGUAGE LEARNING: Colleagues across LACOL shared experiences with digital pedagogies and tools for language instruction.
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 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.
Update on the shared grammar resource, summer 2018.
Convened by Chico Zimmerman and Clara Hardy (Carleton College), about a dozen faculty and technologists met at the workshop to make progress on ideas that emerged from several separate Zoom meetings in the two months preceding the conference. Eventually, the discussions centered on three main elements to focus on moving forward in the near term:
A set of videos featuring LACOL language instructors and students reflecting on the college-level language-learning experience. These videos will be available for sharing with all LACOL institutions by the end of the summer (see next bullet).
A self-curated online digital library of shareable resources for LACOL language instructors, for which a proof-of-concept site has been created and tentatively named CHIANTI (as a more appealing version of MERLOT). The (currently WordPress) site would allow for submissions from LACOL language instructors and would be searchable by category and tags. The initial categories will be in the area of:
General tips for college-level language learning, including research on adult L2 acquisition
English grammar for L2 learners, including models or maps that integrate all aspects of language
An interactive glossary of grammatical and linguistic terms from which instructors can draw for their own pedagogical purposes and to which they can contribute their own definitions and examples.
The CHIANTI site will continue to be built through the summer and populated with some initial resources for testing. A prototype submission form has been drafted and will be tested and finalized through the summer as well. The group will be soliciting contributions once these elements are finalized. (more…)
The Language Instruction Working Group is currently (Spring/Summer 2018) exploring an idea for a online resource built collaborative by/for LACOL faculty and instructors that will guide language learners on foundational grammar concepts.
There is an emerging plan for collaboration toward Shared Grammar Resources for Beginning Language Students. This concept has been discussed with enthusiasm in some earlier LACOL meetings, and Carleton Professor of Classics Chico Zimmerman has drafted a proposal to articulate more of the vision – see link above and below.
Four small teams are actively collaborating across several schools on the following module topics:
General Advice to Learners
General advice to incoming students about language-learning at college.
This includes some student voices on their learning experiences, but also could include some more general data/research findings on the benefits of L2 acquisition and the potential interferences of L1.
Map of Language Learning
An “overview” or map of the different domains that language takes in, including “grammar” broadly construed and its relevance
Glossary of Grammar Terms
A glossary of grammar terms with English examples; perhaps including sentence diagramming
Phonetics and Phonology
Phonetics/phonology module (perhaps with differing emphases depending on the target languages)
The workshop and pilot are the next step in a sequence that began with the Language Skills Hack-a-thon at Swarthmore College in May 2017 and the Dashboard Prototype Technical Workshop at Carleton College in October 2017. With groundwork laid at these previous events, the team is well positioned to put forward a working prototype in French that can be piloted with faculty and students for placement and advising in the summer/fall of 2018.(more…)
Colleges within the consortium offer some form of guided, self-instruction of lesser-taught languages. In Fall 2017/Spring 2018, Vassar College and Williams College launched a collaborative exploration to share online, synchronous classroom-to-classroom interactions across their across their Self-Instructional Language Programs in Portuguese. Through online web conferencing, the classes on each campus shared a tutor and teaching resources for students learning practicing their Portuguese pronunciation and conversation skills.
Two one-hour synchronous sessions each week with all students and the tutors
Up to ten hours of independent study in preparation for the tutorial sessions
Students enrolled in a Self-Instructional Language Course meet twice a week with their tutor and other students in the course. Each student is expected to prepare thoroughly for these sessions, using detailed study guides, a textbook, and multimedia materials. The focus in SILP lies on communication, not on grammatical analysis and literary study. Hence tutorial sessions are conceived as review sessions, unlike more traditional language instruction where new material is often introduced during class.
The tutor’s role is to facilitate the active use of words and structures learned by students beforehand, and to model the use and pronunciation of the language. A shared course differs from a regular course in SILP only in the addition of remote learners to the host institution’s class. All students and the tutor interact with each other in real time via videoconferencing technology. In addition, tutorial sessions are recorded and may be used for further review.
As a sequel to last summer’s Hack-a-thon Toward a Collaborative Language Diagnostics and Refresher Framework at Swarthmore College, a dedicated group of language learning technologists and Carleton’s student “Data Squad” gathered this fall at Carleton College to work on platform requirements for a dashboard prototype. Led by Michael Jones and Carly Born, this two-day mini-hack-a-thon focused on solving technical pieces of the puzzle that will enable the flow of useful data from a language skills diagnostic test into a data-rich visual display.
The dashboard is just one piece our faculty’s vision for the shared framework drafted at the meeting last May. Elements include a language skill map, a self-assessment survey, diagnostic/placement tests (question banks) and the dashboard that can help faculty visualize the data for better placement and advising.
Language Learning Skills Map / Top Level Categories:
Diagnostic visualizations also may point to trends in language skills development within and across our liberal arts programs and language curricula. A user-friendly dashboard tool can ultimately help students gain feedback on their skill levels and close gaps as they traverse the liberal arts language sequence. (more…)
The Pomona College Chinese Pronunciation Guide is a free online learning module on Chinese pronunciation. This new resources aims to help elementary and intermediate level Chinese learners improve their perception of Chinese. This site was developed by Assistant Professor of Asian Languages and Literatures Feng Xiao and his students. Reflecting on the project, Xiao’s student Benjamin Hogoboom, Pomona ’19, says:
The Pomona College Chinese Pronunciation Guide is something that I was very interested in developing both as a Computer Science and Chinese language student. I was eager to take on the challenge of building my own website from scratch, something I had never done before, and to help out introductory Chinese students with one of the most difficult aspects of acquiring Chinese: pronunciation. I am happy that I was able to team up with Professor Xiao, Edward Gao, and Nina Zhou to create what I believe is a truly useful learning tool for students new to the Chinese language.
The Guide covers pronunciation of all new words in the textbook Integrated Chinese (3rd) Level 1 and 2. Indexed by lesson, each new word has four audio recordings and requires the user to choose the correct one (see banner image above). The built-in reset button for each word allows multiple uses of the exercise and minimizes practice effect.
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.
As a preview and prelude to LACOL’s “Language Instruction Hack-a-thon” next May at Swarthmore College (https://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: https://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.
Faculty and Technologists from the Language Instruction Working Group are working toward a Collaborative Language Diagnostics and Refresher Framework, including a visual dashboard to help faculty and students efficiently assess language proficiencies.
Two recent workshop (see below) have recently made concrete steps toward realizing the framework, and additional steps are planned for spring 2018. For more information, contact Mike Jones, (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Carly Born (email@example.com)
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…)