Monday, November 9, 2009

Blended English Language Learning (BELL)

As I finish up this semester, I thought I'd share how I ended up blending a course I'm giving to pre-service English language educators studying in Mexico.  I say, "ended up blending a course" because I really had no idea at the beginning of the semester which technologies I would continue to use throughout the semester.  The class is a public speaking course for 5th semester students and meets face-to-face Monday (for two hours) and Wednesday (for one hour).

I created a group in LearnCentral that served as a central hub or meeting place (much like any learning management system might, like Moodle for example) where I mainly provided instructions that complemented what we did in class.  Since this was a public speaking class, I wanted to focus on two important aspects of public speaking: 1) reflecting on one's performance of giving a public speech, and 2) gaining confidence speaking English as a foreign language.  To address the former, I used BlipTV to host videos of the learners' performances in order for them to get used to seeing themselves speaking in front of an audience.  A playlist of all their performances follows:

To help learners gain more confidence in their speaking ability, they participated in a weekly language exchange whereby learners connected with Skype and had discussions with American native speakers - college students their same age.  Their American counterparts were learning Spanish, so each session learners spent half the class speaking English and half in Spanish.  After each weekly exchange, the English language learners were asked to submit reflections to VoiceThread either as an audio or video.  Moreover, learners were asked to reflect on their overall language exchange experience in written form by submitting comments to this blog.

In summation, technology was used to complement my face-to-face class as follows:

  • primary means for input (asynchronous communication): LearnCentral, Internet, VoiceThread, BlipTV
  • primary means for output (asynchronous communication): BlipTV, Voicethread, Blog
  • primary means to interact with others (sychronous communication): Skype, Internet