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NERALLT Fall 2010 Conference Program

The Digital Native Language Learners are Here: How Do We Effectively Teach Language to the Digital Native?

NERALLT - Fall 2010 Conference
October 21st-22nd, 2010
College of the Holy Cross


Thursday, October 21

7:00 p.m.   Pre-Conference Dinner  Meet at Hilton Garden Inn and travel together (carpool) for a 7:30 p.m. dinner at O'Connors, 1160 West Boylston Street Worcester, MA


Friday, October 22

8:00 a.m. Registration

8:30 a.m. Breakfast

9:30 a.m.-10:00 a.m. Welcome (NERALLT President and NERALLT Conference Host)

10:00 a.m.-10:45 a.m. "Using WEB Resources to Link Instruction and Assessment in Online Spanish Classes" (Christina Biron, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth)

This session presents a new way to design beginning and intermediate online and blended Spanish language courses commonly offered to students within college curricula.  Traditional ways of teaching these courses have focused on textbook models that present historical information to students followed by a series of tasks or questions.  However, there are other pedagogical choices that instructors can make in these courses in order to enable students to dialogue and interact with ideas related to language and culture.  These choices involve exposing students to varied authentic web resources and tasks that help students access and engage with both language and culture. Specifically, the presentation will provide ideas and strategies for integrating web resources into blended and online  Spanish beginning and intermediate language classes with efficiency and ease.  Using a sociocultural framework as a point of departure, the session provides a wiki template for accomplishing this goal and highlights the instructional and assessment benefits for teachers and learners of these classrooms including the development of student agency, attainment of departmental standards, enhanced possibilities for collaborative learning and the expansion of  students’ cultural literacy.  Some preliminary data from use of these web resources in actual language classes as well as student responses to these resources will also be included.


10:45 a.m.-11:00 a.m. Break

11:00 a.m.-11:45 a.m. "Digital Natives - A Mobile Generation" (Jian Wu, Southern Connecticut State University)

Students of digital natives are equipped with mobile devices - cell phones, ipods, iPod Touches, iPads, etc.  As compared to the older generation of the digital immigrants, our students are clearly more proficient at using the mobile technology.   Mobile technology is not something additional to their life, but part of their life.  This presentation will discuss the mobile feature of the digital natives and its implication for language and culture instruction and learning.  With the pervasiveness of mobile technology, learning anytime anywhere, learning on demand and adaptive learning will eventually become the standard practice in education. What should we do as language educators to prepare for this new trend?  Apparently, changes should occur on all levels including curriculum, materials and teaching methods.  This presentation will examine and discuss some of the available mobile programs and tools and their possible application to language and culture education.


12:00 p.m.-12:45 p.m. "Distance Assessment Using Skype"  (Gyanam Mahajan, UCLA)

This paper presents a much needed way to incorporate proficiency testing with achievement testing while integrating University credit requirements and tracking individual student progress using a modified portfolio approach. All testing is done on Skype.

While language instruction has tried to meet the needs of the new digital learner in a language classroom, there is a big gap between the requirements and expectations of digital learners in a distance learning setting or learners in a Self Instruction program. This is especially crucial for LCTLs (Less Commonly Taught Languages) since students are often in Critical Language Study programs at Universities that do not house experts in those LCTLs on campus. The distance monitoring of such programs and their learners creates an interesting situation where technology has helped to narrow the distance learning gap but assessment often retains its archaic methods. This break in the chain leads to an inefficient system where it is difficult to figure out the progress made by students. The assessment for heritage students becomes especially random since the evaluator is never sure if the heritage student is relying on “old” knowledge or if any progress has been made in the class.

I will discuss my work with NASILP (National Association of Self Instruction Language Program) at the Critical languages Program at the University of Arizona in Tucson. I have been using a new approach to monitor and evaluate the students there using assigned individualized projects based on the ACTFL and ILR proficiency scales, the portfolio method, University credit requirements, and differentiating between heritage and non-heritage requirements.  All testing is done using video on Skype for each individual student. I will discuss the logistics and requirements and present the advantages and disadvantages of this “Prochievefolio Projects” based approach. I will also discuss the positives and negatives of using Skype video for the midterms and finals and for monitoring the students throughout the semester.


12:45 p.m.-1:45 p.m. Lunch / NERALLT Business Meeting


1:45 p.m.-2:30 p.m. "Digital Immigrants Fostering the Multilingual Subjectivities of Digital Natives" (Michael Huffmaster, Marlboro College)

This paper argues that digital instructional technologies offer an unprecedented opportunity for language learners to tailor their language study to their individual desires and needs and suggests some ways that language instructors might support such individualized curricula. Recent work in applied linguistics has begun to explore the highly subjective nature of foreign language acquisition, an aspect of language learning long neglected in traditional avenues of research and basically ignored (out of pragmatic constraints) in the traditional classroom setting. Scholars have examined, for example, how language learners perform different identities in the different languages they know (Wolf 2006; Koven 2007), the ways language learners develop multilingual selves (Burck 2005; Block 2007), and the role emotions play in language learning (Pavlenko 2005). More recently Kramsch (2009) has investigated the various ways in which foreign language study transforms learners’ subjectivities in profound and unpredictable ways. In light of this new awareness in applied linguistic research, this paper focuses on the unique opportunities digital technologies provide for students to exploit the language learning experience to foster their own subjective development as bilinguals and multilinguals. Drawing on data from language learner journals, I describe how my students at a small liberal arts college use digital technologies such as Skype and online language learning platforms such as Livemocha, italki, or LingQ not only to acquire communicative competence in the languages they study but also to develop and discover their own individual identities as multilingual subjects. Throughout I emphasize some concrete ways in which “digital immigrant” language professionals such as myself can guide and facilitate the transformative experience of learning a foreign language that “digital native” language learners undergo.


2:30 p.m.-3:15 p.m. "The Portable Language Lab: Using iPods to Increase Learner Autonomy and Engagement" (Diane Creede and Edie Furniss, Connecticut College)

Digital Natives have grown up using mobile devices to communicate with friends, retrieve information instantly, and listen to music and podcasts on the go. Thanks to these very devices, the traditional model of the language laboratory has become obsolete, seeing as language learners can have a wealth of target language materials accessible anytime, any place. By harnessing the power of these devices in an academic context, we can empower language learners to interact regularly with the target language in ways they find effective and personally motivating. Providing students with a portable access point for the target language and culture promotes their autonomy by encouraging them to engage with the language of study when and where convenient, and in ways they find meaningful.For the past five years at Connecticut College, a program to engage the current generation of college students has been created - the Digital Enhanced Learning Initiative (DELI) project. As part of DELI, students in Chinese, German, Japanese, and Russian courses are loaned iPods that are stocked with relevant music, podcasts, apps, audiobooks, videos, textbook audio exercises, and other materials. These iPods are utilized by students in different ways from course to course: the Chinese class’ iPods are used for practicing listening comprehension with the audiofiles that accompany the textbook, while the Russian and German iPods introduce students to the culture through popular music, cartoons, music videos, and commercials. This fall, for the first time, language courses are experimenting with a variety of apps: dictionaries, vocabulary building programs, radio streams, social networking interfaces, news programming sites, mapping tools, and literary collections, which can be accessed by students for both in-class and extracurricular use.


3:30 p.m.-4:15 p.m "Hands-on Technology Experience in the FL Classroom via Student-Run Video Making" (Dana Monsein, Endicott College)

Student-run video production offers an unparalleled opportunity for active learning and creative expression. Furthermore, it may help to enhance foreign language learning and has been reported to increase student motivation (Charge & Giblin, 1988; Coleman, 1992; Gardner, 1994; Geddes & Sturtridge, 1982; Goulah, 2007; Hofer & Owings-Swan, 2005; Lonergan, 1992; Masats, Dooly & Costa, 2009; Stempleski & Tomalin, 1990). Technology-based projects fit well within a pedagogical framework that emphasizes meaningful communication, group work, and the development of real-world skills (Coleman, 1992; Nikitina, 2009). Understanding that helping students to become skilled users of technology is critical in order to prepare them for high-tech realities of today's world, this project aimed to give hands-on experience making digital videos. As we live today surrounded by an almost constant flow of multi-media stimulation and information,  the world inside school walls should reflect the modern reality of the world outside.  The rich and multi-sensory nature of video production lends itself particularly well to a constructivist pedagogical framework, as it promotes active student involvement in the learning process (Chun & Pass, 2000, Kearney & Schuck, 2004). This presentation will outline a student-run video making project that took place in an intermediate, college-level Spanish course. Participants were in charge of almost all aspects of the video production process, from script-writing, to shooting, to editing. When students are charged with using technology to complete an academic objective, how do they go about accomplishing this task? What kind of support can be provided? Language learning and technology learning outcomes will be discussed, as will learners' feedback regarding the project.


4:15 p.m.-4:30 p.m. Concluding Remarks (Mary Morrisard-Larkin, NERALLT Conference Host)


4:30 p.m-5:00 p.m. Tour of the Language Resource Facilities at College of the Holy Cross