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Summer Inspirations

May 15, 2006 by Sue Weier

Recently three LSS staff members attended the 2006 Kentucky Foreign Language Conference. This was the first year for the Instructional Technology track, where Sue Weier and Sara Ziemendorf presented on open source software that we use here at LSS. Read Gilgen, Director of LSS, delivered a keynote presentation titled Wikis, iPods, and Cervantes: Technology isn’t just for language learning anymore”.

We saw some interesting presentations in Kentucky. If you’re looking for inspiration this summer, think about some of these ideas:

  • Plan a paired or small group chat using a role-playing situation. One successful situation gave paired students a budget to furnish a new shared apartment. First each student researched items that they wanted to use for the apartment. Then they chatted (in the target language) about which items to purchase. Negotiation and household vocabulary were improved. Other topics were discussed to correlate with that week's vocabulary.
  • Another interesting project involved small groups that wrote, performed, and filmed a short film in the target language. The movies were videotaped with a digital camcorder and students used iMovie to edit and finish the films. At the end of the semester, awards were made for various categories mirrored on the Academy Awards. The project took most of the semester, and the students were able to learn the technology with one on one assistance from the technology staff.
  • An ambitious project had students create virtual neighborhoods by selecting residences using online photo mapping software. PagesJaunes http://photos.pagesjaunes.fr/ allows you to zoom in to a street level view in several cities in France. You can put in a known address, or just browse until you see a residence that looks interesting. Callejeros Fotograficos http://www.qdq.com/indexfotos.asp provides the same view for several cities in Spain. Students built on the virtual neighborhood idea in their assignments - writing about their route to work, outings with neighbors or a favorite area restaurant.

For more information on any of these ideas, or to discuss ideas of your own, contact Sue Weier (sue@lss.wisc.edu) or Sara Ziemendorf (sara@lss.wisc.edu).

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