EXTRACURRICULAR LANGUAGE AND CULTURE PROMOTION EVENTS AS INFORMAL LANGUAGE LEARNING SETTINGS

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zReferencesIntroductionResearch MethodologyResearch aimResults First year students evaluation of language promotion events during orientation week:

To investigate how extracurricular language and culture promotion events organised at a higher education institution and involving numbers of students in organisation, participation and promotion of such events can serve as settings for informal foreign language learning.

EXTRACURRICULAR LANGUAGE AND CULTURE PROMOTION EVENTS AS INFORMAL LANGUAGE LEARNING SETTINGS Nemira Maianskien, Vilma Bijeikien, Vytautas Magnus University, Kaunas, Lithuania

Informal learning is the oldest form of learning, the first one received in the infants age and lasting throughout a persons lifetime. However, the use of the concept has gained momentum presumably since its definition in the Memorandum on Lifelong Learning [1] which provided three basic categories of purposeful learning activity: formal, non-formal and informal learning,being described as a natural accompaniment to everyday life. According to Knowles, an organized course is effective for new learning of an intensive nature, while a club experience provides the best opportunity for practicing and refining the things learned [2]. Studying a language as a foreign one, i.e. in a country where the target language is not used in daily communication and where the access to practising the target language in naturalistic settings and real life situations is mainly available only through media and IT, it is important to create such opportunities for students to interact in a face-to-face mode in informal environment.

VMU Language and Culture clubs

Diwan club of oriental culture and the Middle East languages Turkish, Kirgiz, Arab, etc. Pessoa(s) -- Portuguese language and culture club, called after a famous Portuguese writer Fernando Pessoa.Miguel de Cervantes Club -- devoted to Spanish and other languages spoken in Spain as well as the rich cultural variety of Spain and the Spanish speaking world.Adam Mickiewicz Polish Language and Culture Club. Lithuanian Sign Language and Deaf Culture Club in 2013 granted Kaunas Mayor Youth Award.Summary of focus group feedbackIn 2013, 20% evaluated the organisation of events and their content positively, however, did not see much impact of these events upon their language choice or language learning at the university and 5.2% admitted that the participation in the events was not useful.

Participation in club activities importantly allows one to learn more about the country of the target language.In classrooms we learn language, while the acquisition of culture is achieved through club activities in terms of culture, club activities are highly enriching.Club activities make language learning more versatile by opening access to creative language learning as well as to the improvement of socio-cultural and sociolinguistic competences.Club activities entail language learning in a pleasant and self-motivated way and provide us with a space for practical application of competences acquired in classrooms.

[1] Memorandum on Lifelong Learning. 2000. Commission of the European Communities. SEC(2000) 1832.[2] Knowles, S. M.1950. In Smith, M. K. (2002) Malcolm Knowles, informal adult education, self-direction and andragogy, the encyclopedia of informal education, www.infed.org/thinkers/et-knowl.htm

PARTICIPANTS VMU students who participated in various language- and culture-related events, organised such events, initiated various language related clubs and provided their opinion on the impact of these events upon informal language learning and the development of their communicative competence.

INSTRUMENTS1. Students feedback after the language promotion event filling in online evaluation in 2012 (n=180) and 2013 (n=172);2. Semi-structured interviews for focus groups comprising the leaders and most active members of different language clubs, cultural event organisers and participants (n= 18).PROCEDURES1. Opportunities for informal language learning created at VMU are described culture events, language promotion events, etc.;2. Students opinions on the above mentioned events are presented and the focus group responses are analysed.20122013Participated in the events 180 172

Evaluated positively85%75%

Spectrum of language and culture events at VMUCulture events for enhanced intercultural awareness: e.g. language- and culture-related lectures, speeches, etc.Creative literature reading -- presentations and interpretations: e.g. a tandem presentation of a Norwegian novel Ellevte roman, bok atten by the author Norwegian writer Dag Solstad and the translator of the novel into Lithuanian as well as VMU teacher of Norwegian Ugnius Mikuionis.Meetings and collaboration with international students: e.g. the European Day of Languages in 2012 was marked by a multilingual public lesson -- the word freedom was taught in 33 languages to over 520 university and gymnasium students in a square adjacent to University premises -- the majority of teachers were foreign students native to the languages taught in the lesson.Meetings with famous native speakers for language promotion: e.g. introduction of Catalan through the meeting with a famous Catalan basketball coach and writer Joan Plaza. Learning by doing -- collaborative preparation of learning materials: e.g. 11 video shots Falo eu A kalbu of students puppet theatre in Portuguese with Lithuanian subtitles.

Discussions, cooperation as well as sharing common worldviews and common interests among club members are of utmost importance and this also helps to improve our linguistic competence. In addition to linguistic competences, participation in club activities helps to improve other skills such as collaborative work, establishing new contacts and organisational skills.From the psychological perspective engagement in organising club events allows learners to break the barrier of fear to communicate in the target language .Only a planned and multifaceted range of extracurricular activities can lead to nurturing university graduates enriched with sustainable plurilingual competence and necessary skills for its further dynamic application.6th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation, Seville 18-20 November, 2013

Collage by VMU student Indr Gutauskait, other pictures by VMU photographers