APVEA 2017 schedule
The second APVEA conference schedule
"Online Communities Projects in the Advanced Language Classroom"
According to the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), global competence, broadly defined as the ability to interact with awareness, sensitivity, empathy, and knowledge of the perspectives of others, is vital for successful communication with people of different national and cultural backgrounds. Developing this competence is a process that should be embedded in all stages of language learning (ACTFL 2014). Collaborative learning tasks that enable learners to explore cultural differences and similarities while being directly exposed to the realities of life in distant locations are a privileged way to attain this goal.
In this presentation, we show how virtual exchanges can be used to develop global competence among undergraduate learners of Spanish. We focus on a telecollaboration project implemented in the Spring of 2016 that brought together Princeton University students enrolled in our course Advanced Studies in Spanish Language and Style (SPA307), and students at the Universidad Cooperativa de Colombia (Medellín). Following similar collaborative learning projects (O’Dowd 2016; Bauer et al. 2006), this telecollaboration task aimed to give students experience in working and learning together through participation in small online communities, created using the Google Communities platform. Among the tasks proposed, students engaged in conversations about national symbols and the impact of immigration in their home communities.
First, we present the synchronous and asynchronous tasks that students carried out throughout the semester. Second, based on students' feedback and self-evaluation, we examine the advantages of implementing this type of online exchange activities for promoting intercultural dialogue and global competence. Finally, we comment on the shortcomings and challenges encountered, and we reflect on future applications of international class-to-class partnership for similar language courses.