Networked Learning Project: Learning French Phrases

 

During my MAET program, colleagues and I  were charged with developing a new skill through the use of YouTube and forums. Additionally, we were limited by the use of only these two mediums. The to-be-developed skill was of our own choosing. Each of us were able to brainstorm and then narrow down the focus of the skill in order to make the learning meaningful. In his post, Let Your Students Choose Their Learning Path, Juliani calls this type of exploration “scratching my own itch”. He states that it may take a few failures, explorations and choices in order to discover what we are truly good at (Juliani). My own instructors were providing us not only an opportunity to develop an interest, but also to encourage us to explore how the inclusion of networked learning could benefit students. My networked learning  project goal was to learn basic French terms.

I knew from the onset that learning French was not a very practical goal to a four week project, so I assumed that learning basic terms for traveling to France would be a more realistic goal. There are a few flaws in this thought process. It has been very difficult to learn a few terms without knowing how each sound alone is enunciated. Also it is much harder to memorize phases without an understanding of how elements of a language connect (propositional, grammatical, person, and formal vs. informal). Another challenge would have to be accessibility, since I do not always have network access and often travel in areas without internet connectivity. I had to think of ways to retrieve my videos and designate time to my learning. I ended up finding a useful app called iTube that allowed me to save my videos for use when I don’t have internet access. This app allowed me to listen to my videos while driving or waiting to do errands. Going slowly and allowing me time to enunciate helped alleviate some of my frustrations. While researching articles on networked learning, specifically learning a language, Sandra Riml refers to it like this; “It’s like being on Candid Camera” (Gheciu, 2012). Many times during my learning process I have felt frustration, success and humor in my own process. I have discovered many things through this process, as it relates to the type of learner I am. Although I knew my strengths were in visual learning and application I didn’t realize how much I really rely on the visual aspect. I tended to get the pronunciation much more quickly while watching the video than listening to it. I also realized that the task I had chosen didn’t bring me as much joy as anticipated because of the limitations of my own proficiency. However, I found myself trying harder to find videos (resources) that showed the speaker’s face so I could watch their mouth in time with the enunciation.  I also tried to learn from mini lessons with 15-20 minute time frames.

Keeping the above experiences in mind I have changed some of my thought processes about the times in which I have asked my own students to do similar activities. I have routinely designated items my students will learn. In the future having them brainstorm which skills they would like to acquire may be a better way of motivating their learning. I have come across student frustrations but made little changes in allowing other modes for them to learn the objectives based on their own learning style. I found it limiting to only use only YouTube and forums to learn French. Although networked learning is beneficial, understanding that not every tool will provide the same level of benefit for each student will help me design lessons that provide the right tool in context with the student goal. In the future I hope to design my classroom learning environment to include the aspects of networked learning I have gained from this project.

 

Resources:

Broida, R. (April 4, 2014). Save YouTube videos to your iPhone for offline viewing. CNet. Retrieved from http://www.cnet.com/how-to/how-to-save-youtube-videos-to-your-iphone-for-offline-viewing/

Gheciu, A. N. (February 1, 2012). Better Learning Through YouTube. Retrieved from http://www.thegridto.com/city/local-news/better-learning-through-youtube/

Juliani, A. J. Let Your Students Choose Their Learning Path. Retrieved on July 21, 2014, from http://ajjuliani.com/let-your-students-choose/

 

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