Heritage Telecollaboration Update: November 2015

Greetings from the Heritage Telecollaboration team at CILC! We are excited to tell you about a very special event coming up next week and several promising telecollaboration projects in the pilot and planning stages.

First, we would like to invite you to a public presentation by Sabine Levet of MIT on Cultura and the teaching of intercultural communicative competence on Thursday, November 12 at the Graduate Center, CUNY. Click the link above or in the menu at the right for more details.

Cultura is one of the most influential telecollaboration models to date, focusing on the development of intercultural communicative competence. Our faculty working on the HT project will also have the privilege of participating in a private workshop on the subject with Professor Levet the same week to develop their skills in this crucial area.

We would also like to update you on the progress of our telecollaboration projects.

Prof. Xiao Li of Queens College is currently (Fall 2015) running the first pilot of a telecollaboration between a heritage Chinese course at QC and a partner English course at the Beijing International Studies University (China). The students are participating in guided chats using WeChat, a mobile instant messaging app popular in Asia. Besides allowing both groups to practice their written language skills, we believe that encouraging reflection on the similarities and differences between Chinese and Chinese-American experiences will provide meaningful (and unexpected) cultural insights to students on both sides of the globe.

Three other courses are at the preparation stages, with first runs planned for Spring 2016. In a twist on the traditional telecollaboration model —which usually involves collaboration with partners in other countries— two CUNY Spanish professors are designing modules that will connect Latino New Yorkers with Latinos in other regions of the United States. Prof. Aránzazu Borrachero of Queensborough Community College is working with a partner course at the University of San Francisco to develop telecollaboration activities in which students will explore the differences between Latino Queens and Latino San Francisco, focusing on the self, the college experience, and city life. Prof. Laura Villa of Queens College will guide students at QC in a telecollaboration with Latino students at St. Xavier University in Chicago. They will concentrate on constructing their own definitions of Latino identity through the lens of family history. Finally, We-Yi Cheng of Hunter College has a very exciting project in the works for an intermediate heritage Chinese course that will allow students to expand their linguistic and cultural repertoires through multiple modes of telecollaboration.

As the background research and development of these courses progresses, we will publish references and materials on CILC’s website. The faculty involved will also present the results of the pilots at several conferences and submit articles for publication in academic journals. Ultimately, complete, ready-to-implement telecollaboration lesson plans based on these pilot courses will be available on the CILC website.

Watch this space for more details!

Michael Rolland is the Research Assistant for the Heritage Telecollaboration team.