Language Learning – Using The Web

I hope this post is not premature.  Currently I find myself in the middle of teaching my first university course that is 100% blog driven.  No paper, no books, tons of posts, tons of comments, lot’s of interaction with the students.  I’m finding the whole experience to be very interesting, both in terms of pedagogy and also in terms of language teaching and language learning.  The course is an advanced undergraduate course for students who are majoring in Spanish.  Basically the course is an introduction to phonetics and a study of the various dialects of Spanish.

First off, here’s the URL:  http://spn346.wordpress.com/

So here are a few initial observations:

1.  Each week we study the speech of a different region of the Spanish speaking world.  So, initially I provide posts with samples from interviews, commercials, or music.  Then in class we review these samples of speech.

2.  Students are divided into study groups.  Each group makes a weekly post of an additional sample of the dialect we are studying and with that post they also provide an analysis of the characteristics.  My students have found some creative examples and they have invented other cool ways to show their analysis. I’m totally impressed.

3.  In class I give mini lectures, and then different study groups are assigned to post their class notes for others.  It has been a really interesting way for me to see what the students get out of the short lectures.  The notes are also a great source for review for our weekly quizzes.

4.  Every week students are required to add comments and analysis to the existing posts (my posts, posts from other groups, posts from their own group).  It’s been a great source for ideas on class discussions.

5.  Every day we learn a phrase in Albanian, which is added to the blog.  One of our students speaks Albanian and I thought it would be an interesting way to reinforce phonetic transcription of sounds.

6. I find myself adding additional posts and pages to help provide background and examples for the course.  This includes things like help in writing phonetic characters, URLs to various related topics, etc.

7. I believe I’ll add a future post about netvibes in general because I am amazed by what that site can potentially mean for education and the way that information comes to us.  In the meantime, here’s the URL to my public netvibes page.  It has also become part of the course:

http://www.netvibes.com/orkelm

So, check out the course blog.  It’s hard to image teaching nowadays without web 2.0 being a gigantic part of the procedure.

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