This exchange involves future teachers of French who are completing a Masters Degree in Foreign Language Education (” Master français langue étrangère” ) and students in Latvia who are studying a degree in French Studies.
The exchange forms part of ” Le français en première ligne” project which engages student teachers of French in authentic online teaching experiences with students of the French language in other countries. The project,created by Christine Develotte,has been running since 2002 and has connected student teachers from Besançon, Lyon and Grenoble in France with partners in Australia, the USA, Spain, Japan, Brazil, Cyprus and Latvia.
Dominant form of language production:
How long did the project last?
How was the project organized?
In the online exchange, the French MA students are required to design 10 online language learning tasks in a Moodle platform for the French learners in Latvia and other partner countries to carry out. In this way, the French students are given authentic practice in online foreign language teaching and the Latvian students are given the opportunity to learn French language and culture through the tasks and the online interaction with their French teacher/peers. During the first three weeks of the exchange students from both institutions present themselves and their home countries using multimedia tools such as Powerpoint, Photopeach, Youtube etc. Following this ‘ getting to know you’ stage, ten language and culture-learning tasks are developed and presented by the Grenoble student-teachers to their Latvian partners on a weekly basis over a ten week period. These tasks are based on pre-assigned themes such as learning how to talk about local cuisine, cinema, national stereotypes, etc. The Latvian class meets once a week (90 minute session) with their teacher in a computer laboratory to work on the tasks together and to discuss the learning outcomes. As the course does not have a textbook, all the class activity is based on the materials and discussions which emerge from the telecollaborativeexchange. They are also expected to spend 3 hours per week working on the tasks outside of class time. The Grenoble group meets 4 hours each week during one semester for this module. (Two hours are held in a computer lab and this is then followed by two hours on the same morning in a normal classroom.)
|Voyage voyage !|
Multimedia presentations Learning how to talk about certain topics (local cuisine, cinema, national stereotypes…) getting students to explore and report on authentic websites or to view online videos and discuss them in the project’ s Moodle forums
How were the students assessed?
This is a fully recognised course at the University of RIga, credited with 6ECTS. The Latvian students’ final mark has equal weight to those of other language courses at the university. For the students in Grenoble, the final mark is divided between a critical analysis of an existing online task (40%), the participation in the online exchange and the completion of an online journal where students show their reflections on the experience of teaching online (60%).
What worked well?
What did students think of the project?
What challenges did you face?
The fact that the class in Riga is based completely on the online exchange has inevitably involved a lot of extra work for the local teacher and she reports a lack of awareness of this issue at institutional level. Dina explains: ” Financial aid is vital. All telecollaboration projects require three times more work than a traditional course but the administration does not seem to understand this. I participate in the exchange mainly because I am interested in it.” A course such as this one does indeed require a great deal of teacher input. Dina not only organizes the local class sessions and helps her students to carry out the tasks, but she also has to function as a provider of feedback to the students in Grenoble, informing them regularly through a special forum on the Moodle website how the Latvian students are reacting to the tasks and the corrections provided by Grenoble.
What did the teachers think of the project?
Dina suggests that the keys to success of the project are ” &hellip responsibility of the participating partners, well-trained teachers, continuous hard work on the part of the teachers and continuous support by specialists” . From the French perspective, François believes that the long-term success of these exchanges depends on a very regular, in-depth form of contact between the project coordinators on each side.
What kind of institutional support did you receive?
The exchange has had important impact on the internationalization programmes of the two universities. In 2009 Grenoble and Riga signed ” Un Accord Cadre” or Memorandum of Understanding which recognized the link between the classes and committed both institutions to carrying out the telecollaborative exchange and exploring further links together. These links may include the physical exchange of students and teachers as well as exchange at research level. However, the fact that the class in Riga is based completely on the online exchange has inevitably involved a lot of extra work for the local teacher and she reports a lack of awareness of this issue at institutional level. She explains: ” Financial aid is vital. All telecollaboration projects require three times more work than a traditional course but the administration does not seem to understand this. I participate in the exchange mainly because I am interested in it.” The French project ‘ Le français en première ligne’ also continues to have great success, and is being disseminated by the Agenceuniversitaire de la francophonie (AUF) as a model of good practice which can be copied by other French institutions. It has in fact been used as a model for similar projects at Paris 3, Strasbourg and Clermont-Ferrand universities.