INTERFACE – INTERcultural proFiciency and orAl CompetenCE in English
Karen Abel, Lecturer, Beit Berl College, Kfar Saba/Israel
Dr. David Prickett, Director of the Center for Languages and
Key Competencies (Zessko), Head of the English/Philology Language Department; University of Potsdam.
- via tendering Transnational Erasmus+ Virtual Exchange Project (TEP)
The collaboration took the form of two separate, concurrent courses for teacher training students of English and also for two-subject BA students.
- English Listening and Oral Proficiency I (Potsdam, Prickett)
- English - Oral Proficiency (Beit Berl, Abel).
Due to the earlier start of the semester in Israel, the cooperation activities were limited to approximately 8 weeks. After the reflection of the first cooperation project, these activities were extended in the second round to joint synchronous meetings.
In the 1st run (WiSe 2019/2020), the part-time collaboration of the students took place between the meetings that were held separately.
In the 2nd pass (SoSe 2020), the collaboration was integrated into the weekly seminar meetings: Students worked synchronously for 45 minutes in plenary and in groups (breakout rooms). Student collaboration between sessions remained.
Objectives and topics of the course
Both courses focused on language training for (teaching) students in English. Despite the different focus (pronunciation [Potsdam], oral production [Beit Berl]), the teachers developed a common teaching concept that covered the learning objectives of both courses:
- the training of speaking and listening skills by working on common topics, e.g. "Studying abroad"(*)
- the recognition and overcoming of stereotypical ideas about life in the other country through intercultural exchange
- the development of pedagogical competencies, e.g. through peer review
- training in flexibility, social adaptation and acceptance of responsibility
- collaborative learning and teaching in COIL format.
(*)After completing this course, a student teacher from the University of Potsdam decided to spend an Erasmus+ period in Israel.
- Joint kick-off session: introduction, getting to know each other, group formation.
- [1st + 2nd run] Self-organized meetings of the mixed student groups - parallel to/outside the regular course sessions.
- Discussion of various topics and recording of group discussions.
- Reception (listening, understanding) of and mutual feedback on created short videos.
- [2nd run] Whole group discussion sessions in addition to group activities.
- Joint final session
Feedback und Performance Evaluation
- Individual feedback by instructors [1st pass] and global feedbacks + individual assessments [2nd pass] on additionaly exam work.
- Different focus depending on course focus > UP: listening comprehension and pronunciation; Beit Berl: oral production, flow of speech, rhetoric
- Recordings of group discussions (performance assessment [Beit Berl]; exam fringe benefits [U Potsdam])
- Role play at the end of the cooperation phase (performance evaluation [U Potsdam; pronunciation, rhetorical skills])
- Zoom (web meetings),
- Open.UP (Shared Moodle course [in WiSe 2019/2020]),
- Linoit (synchronous whiteboard for collaboration).
- Mentimeter (brainstorming, word clouds, warm-up activities).
- The most important aspect is the compatibility of the partners.
- Spend a lot of time preparing for the collaboration, especially if common topics and interests need to be found.
- Clearly define achievable learning goals and opportunities to develop meaningful tasks.
- Do not force things if a fit between partners, interests and common topics cannot be achieved or can only be achieved with great difficulty.
- Little supervision of student groups was necessary.
- Students took responsibility in work phases, reacted flexibly to small problems and supported each other when time was tight.
- Fascinating diversity and personal stories - the course offers a model form of authentic learning.
Sources and further Information
Zwischen Potsdam und Kfar Saba – Wie Collaborative Online International Learning hilft, reale und kulturelle Grenzen zu überwinden (Neues aus der UP Oct 2020)
Not a “Single Story” – How a German-Israeli COIL Project Helps Participants Overcome Stereotypes (UP News Oct. 2020)
Learning Together Across Borders (Newsletter Beit Berl College Nov. 2020)