Peer-to-peer exchange enriches language learning
A website conceived and developed at Queen’s is enriching language-culture education by connecting students across the globe. LinguaeLive facilitates exchange between complementary language classes. The e-tool leverages individual pedagogical aims of classroom instructors to surmount potential geographical challenges.
“One of the best ways to learn a target language is through dialogue with people who are experts in that language. There is so much that peers can learn from each other, especially as part of a globalized classroom,” says Jennifer Ruth Hosek, associate professor in the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures. “I hope LinguaeLive will connect many serious students of foreign language and culture.”
Dr. Hosek began developing the site to augment her courses at Queen’s. She thought her English-speaking students learning German – their target language – would benefit from working with German-speaking students learning English, and vice-versa.
Proficiency outcomes and positive student feedback support her hypothesis. Dr. Hosek notices and students report they are more confident speaking in their target language thanks to LinguaeLive. They believe their language skills improve by interacting with peers whose expert language they are learning. They also appreciate connecting with peers abroad they would not otherwise have the chance to meet.
“Inter-cultural language exchanges such as this provide students with a global education experience at home, enriching their understanding of diverse cultures and offering a reciprocal experience to students in other countries,” says Principal Daniel Woolf.
Instructors like Queen’s lecturer in Japanese Mayu Takasaki find that LinguaeLive motivates students and enriches in-class lessons. According to her research, such communication furthers improvement in any or all four language acquisition and learning modalities: oral, aural, written and reading.
LinguaeLive provides users with maximum flexibility while saving administrative labour and ensuring the integrity of the learning environment. Students can communicate – or ‘tandem’ – in modes most relevant for achieving course objectives, such as VoIP, chat, or email.
Teachers can find instructors whose students have complementary expert and target languages; students then find suitable peers in complementary course; and all can use the timing function to document the length of communication sessions.
Features under development include instructor chat forums and an option for peer-to-peer outside formal classroom structure.
LinguaeLive is free for users. An E2Quate grant administrated by former Chair in Teaching and Learning Lindsay Davidson funded the pilot study. The site is currently supported by a Research Development Initiative Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.