In 2010 I served as a fellow of the Fulbright Garcia-Robles program, teaching English for one school year in a technological university in Morelos, Mexico. I taught two Intermediate English classes and two Advanced English classes each semester; challenging the students with current event readings and discussions comparing the U.S. and Mexican cultures, and essays refining their writing skills. A few weeks into the first semester, I thought to myself, how can I link up these students with classrooms back in the States? After all, in my opinion, immersion paired with practice is the best way to truly master a foreign language.
I reached out to my aunt who teaches high school literary English in suburban Philadelphia. She loved the idea of coordinating some type of virtual exchange, for her students to learn about Mexico and for my students to practice their English. We brainstormed. Skype wasn’t an option because of the lack of overlap in our schedules. Pen pals weren’t either because of the length of time it would take for the letters to arrive. Finally, we decided to host the virtual exchange on a blog. Each student would be assigned a counterpart and they would take turns exchanging messages in English.
The truth is…this well-intentioned project fizzled out after about two rounds of messages. The platform wasn’t engaging for the students, it was a hassle to carve out time for this during class hours, and there was no way to keep the students accountable for completing the assigned exchanges. Despite the will to connect virtually, all too many teachers face similar struggles in their classrooms that prevent them from carrying out virtual projects.
Partners of the Americas and iEARN (International Education and Research Center) are working to change that. This October 25, we will co-host a Bilingualism Workshop in Guadalajara, Mexico that will provide teachers, administrators, and volunteers with hands-on tools and resources to empower them to build global connections. The workshop will include panel discussions, presentations, and hands-on sessions to explore the core elements of virtual exchange for collaborating with other classrooms around the world and incorporating global projects into English and other subject curricula.
Here are the three reasons you don’t want to miss this event:
- It will be informative. Participants will learn to use online platforms for connecting. Through the iEARN Collaboration Centre and other platforms built for online project exchanges, this workshop will teach participants how to navigate technology tools that enhance global collaboration.
- It will be hands-on. Participants will have the opportunity to practice building relationships through online communication. The workshop will equip participants with strategies and activity examples for building relationships online and preparing students for online dialogue.
- It will be practical and real-world applicable. Participants will explore new projects that align with their real classroom curriculum. They will explore examples of global projects across different curriculum areas, select new projects, and create plans to align their new global projects with their curriculum.
For more information or to register for this event, please click here.