Student Motivation, Blended Learning & an iPod Project in Tertiary Japanese Language Teaching at ANU
This article examines the relationship between student motivation and blended teaching and learning techniques, firstly by presenting the results of a survey carried out at the Japan Centre at the Australian National University in 2008 and then by presenting the results of an iPod Project trialled in the advanced Japanese language program in 2007 and 2008. The survey aimed to assess student motivation for learning Japanese and student attitudes to different teaching and learning methods and how that affected their motivation and satisfaction. The ‘iPod Pilot’ project aimed to demonstrate the usefulness of iPods and podcasting technology as a teaching and learning tool in advanced Japanese language teaching and learning, and its impact on student motivation. The primary goal of the project was to create an intensive Japanese language program for studying ‘out-of-country’ in Australia and to create a more up-to-date and flexible teaching and learning space by moving students from a controlled text-based environment to a more open ‘real’ exposure by providing easy access to authentic listening/viewing material, captured from TV news, movies and radio. Both the survey and the iPod project showed that students preferred a ‘blended’ learning approach, in which flexibility of delivery is increasingly important. Ongoing analysis of student motivation and effective teaching and learning methods through a longer-term survey will support future analysis and potential redesign of Japanese language programs.
“Skilful methods can achieve what power cannot”: Flexible Delivery of Sanskrit at the Australian National University as a Model for Small-enrolment Languages
Sanskrit is better known for its antiquity and profundity than for its ability to attract undergraduates, so Sanskrit classes in Western universities have always been small. Yet as universities find themselves squeezed for funding, few can afford to offer courses that routinely attract low numbers, and many have already closed their doors to would-be Sanskrit students. At the Australian National University, however, enrolments are increasing because of our use of educational technologies to provide flexible delivery of Sanskrit teaching. With texts, audio resources and video-recorded lectures available online, and face-to-face tutorials presented through video-conferencing, Australian students can now benefit from high quality, accredited undergraduate courses in Sanskrit regardless of where they live. Two years after introducing flexible delivery, Sanskrit enrolments have doubled, students are thriving, and accountants are being held at bay. The future also looks bright, with a promise of substantial growth in enrolments nationally and even internationally. Surprisingly, the greatest obstacles to the introduction of flexible delivery have not been technological, but administrative. Through examining the experiences of lecturer and students, this paper discusses the pros and cons of flexible delivery of a small enrolment language for the university sector.
The Hindi Newspaper Revolution: Teaching Reading of Print and Online News Media
There has been a revolution in Hindi newspaper publication and readership in the last fifty years. This has created new opportunities and challenges in the teaching of Hindi. This article is based on studies undertaken as part of the development and teaching of Hindi courses at La Trobe University from 1997 to 2007. Evident advantages of the newspaper revolution include: current content in classes; comparisons of English language and Hindi language stories; and the study of local level stories. The problems relate to what constitutes ‘standard Hindi’ itself. The most notable challenge created by the newspaper revolution in India for Hindi teachers is the issue of what constitutes the ‘standard Hindi’ we are teaching, as new editions of new Hindi papers continuously redefine what is regarded as Hindi. This highly contested area has seen a shift from a highly Sanskritized formal Hindi in the 1950s to constant code-switching between Hindi, Urdu and English elements in contemporary news media. This article concludes by arguing that there is only one way to deal with this contradiction; when teaching students how to read news media, Hindi teachers must also get students themselves to engage in the debate over what constitutes ‘Hindi.’
Blogging and Vietnamese Language Teaching and Learning
Compared with other web tools, blogging has sparked much interest among language educators for its authentic, interesting and communicative nature. The teaching of Vietnamese as a foreign language is relatively under-researched, particularly when it comes to the application of information and communication technologies. This ongoing action research study examines the usefulness of a blog project in developing Vietnamese as a foreign language (VFL) students’ reading and writing skills as well as their background knowledge of the Vietnamese culture. Pedagogical implications of the use of blogs in foreign language teaching are also discussed. Data were collected from twenty-two VFL learners through their blog projects, two sets of questionnaires and semi-structured interviews. This article focuses on three major points: the background of the blog project; the students’ feedback on the project; and the teacher’s reflections on the advantages and challenges of this project. Some recommendations are also put forward to make the best use of this powerful web tool in foreign language classrooms.
The Use of Films as an Innovative Way to Enhance Language Learning and Cultural Understanding
This article discusses how films can be used as an effective platform to allow students to immerse themselves in the target culture of a language. Through films, students broaden their understanding of the geographic, sociolinguistic, socio-economic, socio-political and educational issues in the target community. To illustrate this, the article shows how a small selection of Indonesian films has been used at different proficiency levels in the Bahasa Indonesia programme at the National University of Singapore. It also examines the role of the films in the process of teaching and learning, and how watching films reinforces class activities such as role-playing, discussions, and debating, as well as out-of-class activities such as interviews and research on topics related to the films. In order to explore students’ feedback on this process, there is a discussion of students’ responses to watching the films. It is proposed that three main issues need to be considered: the choice of the films; the development of lesson plans; and the possibility for efficiency gained by having the students watch the films out of class time. In conclusion, it is argued that the combination of these strategies demonstrates how films can be used in innovative ways for teaching the target language and culture.
Learners’ Perceptions of Culture through Movies
Since language and culture are inseparable, we cannot be teachers of language without including knowledge of culture or vice versa. Educational research has revealed that the most successful language learners are able to take on the “mindset” of the foreign language speakers assuming the culture along with the language. It is believed that to fulfill the educational potential of language and culture teaching, learners’ language acquisition and knowledge of the target culture through foreign language classes can be enhanced by implementing teaching aids such as media. Movies are widely used as a teaching material in foreign language classes as they are a medium which can convey informational content of interest and relevance to learners’ world experiences. In addition, movies are an economical substitute for field trips and other real visits to a country in which the target language is used. While most movies are fictional, they can provide insightful learning experiences on the language and cultures of the native speakers which students might unlikely to have in a classroom. This article aims to explore how learners of Thai as a foreign language perceive Thai cultures through watching some selected Thai movies. I will also discuss some teaching implications for development of learners’ socio-linguistic competence by using movies as authentic material.
The Wired New Learning: Blogging Malay Literacy
This article examines the function of wired literacy and rejects skeptical accusations that it is just empty talk. Selected Malay blog entries and follow-up emails will be examined to show that wired literacy simulates asynchronous learning support. The infusion of wired literacy with new learning through the use of blogging, it is argued, engenders effective self-paced language learning. Within a new learning paradigm, there is de-centralizing of one teacher, one narrative and one chapter, at a time; the conventional wisdom of learning as knowing is replaced by the notion of learning as doing. As a pedagogical approach distinct from the standard lecture-tutorial approach, the new learning paradigm advocates doing, in place of knowing, by blending process with content. Practicing wired new learning in the form of blogging, assists language learners to further develop their Malay linguistic intelligence acquired in class. Furthermore, the practice of journaling in online learning offers a reflective avenue for activities to be recorded in the foreign language. It is proposed that this form of online journaling therefore becomes a stimulating input motivating students towards language acquisition. The conclusion is that new learning is blended into new literacies to enable a confluence of offline and online modalities in foreign language acquisition.