Cornell University


The Language Learning Space: Real and Virtual Uses

March 30 - April 1, 2007



Conference Program


Friday, March 30

1:30 - 4:30 p.m.

Limited Enrollment


Language Resource Center
Room G11
Noyes Lodge

Pre-conference Workshop

Environments for online student collaboration

Dick Feldman and Ute Maschke, Cornell University

This pre-conference workshop will allow participants to explore 3 different environments for student collaboration: Mediate, CULTURÁ, and Wikis. The wrap-up activity will touch on the signficant benefits and challenges of these environments.

During the workshop break there will be a demonstration of high-quality IP videoconference equipment and language learning applications.

Mediate: A project-oriented, network-based environment for learners to study and evaluate selected media materials, and analyze and participate in alternative media (blogs, enewspapers, pod casts, etc.). Linking media materials makes them accessible for contrastive/comparative analysis and engagement in one work-space with access to other networked resources. Learners pursue different paths to information as well as their own intellectual and research interests, maintain their own archives, generate materials, interact with interlocutors via blogs or podcasts hosted by German-speaking participants, and develop their own alternative media projects. The ability to share learners' archives and the complexity of interacting with the material inter/intraculturally allow for data-driven, collaborative acquisition of discourse competencies. Dynamic (self)assessment and (e-)portfolios are integrated to document qualitative evidence and foster metacognitive reflections about the learning process and the intercultural engagement. Participants will have the chance to try using this powerful environment.

CULTURÁ: This is a multi-faceted environment for cross-cultural partnering and study. It presents a proven approach to mediating contact between an L1 English/L2 French (for example) and an L1 French/L2 English class. The project provides data in the other class's native language, while the US class provides data to them in English. CULTURÁ provides templates for the exchange of data, which progresses from simple and highly structured (reactions to word like "police" "suburb" "neighbor") to sentences and then situations. The US class analyzes the L2 data in that language, asks forclarification and brings in other sources to create hypotheses about the L2 culture. The students have ongoing discussion board contact. CULTURÁ has been around for a while, but now there are finally tools available that make it work. We'll look at these tools, try out the sequence of words-sentences-situations, look at the archives and discuss some of the benefits and hurdles to implementing this powerful approach.

Wiki: This increasingly popular collaborative creation environment is the most accessible of the three workshop topics. Most people are familiar with Wikipedia, the very largeinformation source on most everything, created by a collaborative, fairly unstructured community. But a wiki can also be used by a class as an online space for students to collaboratively represent an idea in an iterative process of writing, editing and refining. At the same time, members of each group have a discussion board about their creation, which others in the class can also participate in. Wikis have history boards that allow the teacher to trace the contribution of each class member fairly precisely for evaluation purposes. We will start with a blank wiki, look over the tools and editing codes, and create our own as a group.

4:30 - 5:30


Language Resource Center, Room G11, Noyes Lodge

5:00 - 7:00


Language Resource Center, Room G11, Noyes Lodge

All events on Saturday and Sunday will be held in the Robert Purcell Community Center.

Saturday, March 31

8:00 - 9:00

Registration & Coffee

9:05 - 9:20

Room 205

Welcoming remarks



9:25 - 10:15

Room 205


Keynote Address:

CALL: What's it all in aid of?

Nina Garrett, Yale University

The keynote will address some of the current purposes to which CALL is being put (and revisit some former ones now considered passe) in the context of the underlying question - the really fundamental one language learning: What's that all in aid of? The presenter will argue that CALL should not define or justify itself only in terms of the pedagogy suggested by current SLA theory. Rather, the challenge is to think outside the box, outside the longstanding issues that have been defined by academic pressures. Finally, the presenter will consider what are some specific ways in which CALL can take the lead in opening up language learning for today's (and tomorrow's) learners?

10:25 - 11:10

Session 1

Room 220

Teaching second language writing skills and collaborative learning through Wikis

Jenna Torres, St. Lawrence University

As Loudermilk Garza and Hern (2005) state, wikis (as opposed to more static course-management systems or word processing software) allow students to work together to produce language in new and meaningful ways, so that they better understand that both writing and learning are an ongoing, collaborative, and often messy process. In a second language environment, collaborative learning can be beneficial for getting students to negotiate meaning (e.g. Long and Porter, 1985) and notice their output (e.g. Swain, 1993), potentially leading to increased language learning. Because of the nature of wiki editing, students can be truly flexible and creative in their approach to writing, discussion, and preparing for presentations in either an asynchronous or synchronous (with the aid of IM) manner. In this demonstration / presentation, I will discuss the ongoing use of a wiki in my current Spanish 201 (Advanced Spanish) course, including examples of assignments, samples of student contributions, and a discussion of the positives and pitfalls of using a wiki to teach writing skills at the 200-level.

Room 222

Learning while playing: The Sims 2 in language education

Karen Campbell, Rutgers University

The Sims 2, developed by EA games, is one of the best-selling computer games in the nation. The whole premise of the game is every-day life: players control virtual people, or "sims," in a real-world simulation. As a tool in language education, The Sims 2 brings students into this every-day world, immersing them in the target language. Not only are students exposed to daily vocabulary which may be difficult to establish in a classroom setting, but this game further entices students to narrate the lives of their sims, adding a compositional element while still maintaining the premise of "play." Language skill development becomes a secondary goal, with students learning through the process of developing their sims' lives.

This presentation will cover some basics of The Sims 2 game play and objectives keeping in mind the pressing question: Why use The Sims 2 for language education? Additional topics will include the development of The Sims 2 project at Rutgers, including some experiences instructors and students have had in integrating this simulation into world language classes, and sample activities which instructors can use with The Sims 2.

Room 203

Möchtest du meinen Podcast sehen? The iPod and digital media in high school German instruction

Peter Schultz, MMI Preparatory School

In today's standards-based instruction of German, it has been suggested that technology may be an effective medium in helping high school students learn the language. Recent technology introduced into language instruction has been digital media, including the innovative iPod.

At MMI Preparatory School, we continue to expand our use of digital media in the German curriculum and classroom. The presentation will highlight the use of this innovative, emergent digital media at our school. Examples will include the production of digital films, and using the iPod as medium of learning culture, as well as creating student Podcasts for viewing on the iPod.

This use of these digital tools supports standards-based instruction. The authors of the National Standards have suggested that technology can be used as a medium for communicating in German in the interpersonal, interpretive, and presentational modes, and can also be used for the teaching of culture. This presentation will tie in the use of digital media in our German courses to the Standard. In addition, the presentation will show how digital media is integrated into instruction on the high school level in a growing, technology-rich environment.


11:20 - 12:05

Session 2

Room 220

Microsoft Word's tracking tool: Understanding the student writing and revision process

Jutta Schmiers-Heller, Columbia University

This session will show students in an intermediate German II class at Columbia University use Microsoft Word's tracking tool to revise and edit their writing. So far none of the students have ever used the tracking tool and have worked on their essays the traditional way: handwritten feedback from the instructor that leads to corrections of their original essay which is then re-submitted. With the tracking tool, students learn to save every version of their essay and thus have an overview of the writing process as their essay becomes a final version for submission. It also helps them organize their work as all versions of the essay are stored in Columbia's course management system, courseworks. In addition, students learn to understand the instructions and computer lingo in the target language. Finally, using the tracking tool also allows the instructor to get an insight into how students revise and edit their work because their entire writing process is saved as an individual steps along the way.

Room 222

Online cultural resources for teachers of French and Italian

Christine Meloni and Jocelyne Brant, George Washington University

An important part of foreign language instruction is teaching culture. Teachers, however, find it difficult to find the time to research all aspects of their target culture(s), especially if they do not live in the target culture. They need assistance. The presenters will introduce the Culture Club, an online environment that offers free cultural resources for teachers of foreign languages. While examples will be given in French and Italian, all FL teachers should find the site and the presentation useful.

The presenters will explain in detail the structure and contents of the Culture Club and will suggest ways teachers can use it effectively in their teaching and in their own professional development.. The Club consists of nine rooms which are continually renovated with new materials. Previous materials are preserved in the Collection and are easily accessible. The Library, the Screening Room, and the Music Room feature book reviews, film reviews, and music reviews, respectively. The SpeakerŐs Corner showcases articles on culture while the TeacherŐs Lounge offers lesson plans. The Internet Media Room provides links to TV and radio stations, online newspapers, and blogs and podcasts. The Hangout has interviews with teen-agers from target cultures, and the Banquet Hall has menus and recipes. The Photo Gallery exhibits photographs and launches a new photo contest each month.

Throughout the presentation participants will be encouraged to offer suggestions for materials that they would like to find in the Culture Club. They will also be urged to contribute materials and, if possible, volunteer to become members of the Culture Club Editorial Board. Their ideas for ways to make the Club even more teacher-friendly will be warmly received. Four language-specific handouts (French, German, Italian, and Spanish) that list resources will be distributed.

Room 203

Life on the Hill: blogs, podcasts, and finding one’s voice in the target culture.

Krystyna Golkowska, Cornell University

International students coming to the U.S. are highly motivated to improve their English language skills and eager to learn about American culture. Yet for all their commitment, they often limit their contact with native speakers to in-class activities, remaining isolated and detached. On-line materials and virtual classrooms help build a safe space in which one can experience interactivity and authenticity in the target language. However, students do not always build a bridge from the virtual comfort zone to real communities.
This presentation focuses on a project that aimed not only at helping to improve listening and speaking skills, but also at teaching about the American culture through community involvement. Sample activities related to podcasts created on Cornell campus and to undergraduate students blogs “Life on the Hill” will be used to illustrate how listening to voices in the community can enable students to reflect on American culture and their own identity. Some comments will also be offered on adapting this second language approach to a foreign language course.


12:05 - 1:15

Lunch ... ,

(included in registration fee)


1:25 - 2:10

Session 3

Room 220

Learning unplugged: Using cell phones in language courses

Michael Heller, Montclair State University

According the Pew Internet & American Life Project, nearly 50% of teens own a cell phone, making it the most popular personal digital assistant device. Ninety percent of college students have a cell phone with them at all times. As part of a new program called Campus Connect, all new full-time Montclair State University (MSU) students must purchase a University-approved cell phone with which MSU reaches students on their preferred communication device. MSU Campus Connect leverages pervasive cellular phone technology to enrich academic learning and other social experiences. This session will describe and demonstrate Montclair's academic use of cell phone technology in the foreign language classroom, including instant text alerts from Blackboard, foreign language streaming audio, video and podcasts, and cell phones' built-in text messaging as an assessment tool.

Room 222

Communal living in Russia 1920-2007: A virtual museum

Slava Paperno and Alice Nakhimovsky, Cornell University

The 1917 Bolshevik revolution in Russia created a new form of housing, the so-called "communal apartment," where several families of different ethnicities, educational backgrounds, attitudes, and life habits shared the kitchen, hallway, lavatory, and bathroom in an otherwise ordinary city apartment that was originally designed to house one family. This was part of the Soviet plan to shed bourgeois values and establish a new socialist lifestyle based on equality among the toiling masses and minimalist austerity as the main aesthetic principle. Communal apartments also helped with the housing crisis that persisted in Russia for over eight decades. The new lifestyle affected millions of Russians. Thousands of families in St. Petersburg, Moscow, and other cities are still living in these apartments today.

Life in a communal apartment involves numerous adjustments to the notions of ownership, privacy, fairness, hygiene, control, and social interaction. The resulting attitudes and strategies became part of everyday life for many generations of Russians and the background to much of Russian art of the Soviet period. The daily activities of an ordinary Russian city resident cannot be fully understood without some knowledge of communal living.

The proposed event will be the first public presentation of the work of four scholars who are building a virtual museum of life in a communal apartment, a Web site that will combine numerous video and audio recordings, documents, essays as well as excerpts from works of Russian literature and film (Ilya Utekhin of European University in St. Petersburg, Russia, Alice Naknimovsky and Nancy Ries of Colgate University, and Slava Paperno of Cornell University). The intended audience for the bilingual Web site includes students and scholars in language, literature, history, sociology, and anthropology. The project is supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities. It was started in the spring of 2006 and will be completed by the spring of 2008.

Room 203

Using blogs to improve L2 writing

Jocelyne Brant and Christine Foster Meloni, George Washington University

As blogs become increasingly popular with the general public, they are quickly making their way into the foreign language classroom. Teachers are finding them especially appropriate for developing studentsŐ writing skills in the L2.

The presenters will begin by explaining briefly the technical aspects of blogs. They will then describe three collaborative class projects that they designed and implemented in their French and ESL classes. Two of the projects involved students in a single classroom while the third involved students in two different locations. Participants will view samples of student blogs and engage in a discussion of these writing samples.

The presenters will ask participants to share their own experiences with blogs and will conclude with a comparison of blogs and course management discussion boards, stating what they see as the benefits and drawbacks of each technology.


2:20 - 3:05

Session 4

Room 220

ULearning with Technology: Comparative analysis of the Arabic and English phonology

Hebatalla Elkhateeb-Musharraf, Princeton University

The Arabs are most known for their accomplishments with the universally known Arabic numerals and Algebra which are the basis for our mathematical system. However, their contribution in the writing system is greatly overlooked as it became the basis of our modern alphabet. The advent of the written word must surely rank, together with fire and the wheel, as one of mankindŐs greatest inventions. The wheel of literacy and writing systems was first invented by the ancient Egyptians. Then, modern alphabets, in which one symbol represents a speech sound (phoneme) originated in Syria and Palestine between 2000-1500 B.C. The Greek alphabet was devised in about 1,000 B.C., and the Roman alphabet was derived from the Greek in the seventh and sixth century B.C. The Roman (or Latin) script is the basis for the English writing system in use today. Furthermore; Arabic words in English have a long history. While the oldest of them are found in the sciences, astronomy, mathematics, chemistry and navigation, some are quite commonly used as names for foods and household articles. As a result, after forty centuries of linguistic evolution, modern English as well as other Indo-European languages can trace its alphabet and numerous parts of its vocabulary to its Arabic origins.

This study utilized technology as a virtual learning tool to reveals an unprecedented connection between the Arabic and English phonological structure and alphabetical systems exemplified with animated comparative analysis of the phonological structure of Arabic and English writing systems and cognates with side trips to other languages, thus presenting a new paradigm in the pedagogy of teaching and learning Arabic and English phonology in particular and comparative phonology in general.

First, it illustrates through interactive animations the ways each Latin grapheme and phoneme was transformed from and how it resembles its parallel in the Arabic alphabet through audio-visual animations. The animation illustrate the writing and sound of each grapheme and in the Arabic alphabet to promote Arabic- English literacy and pave the learnerŐs way toward rationalizing and visualizing the transition of reading and writing from the left to right in English to the right to left in Arabic.

Second, it examines and provides audio recording of numerous cognates to enables the learner to establish the patterns of sound correspondences and illustrate the similarities in the phonological representations between Arabic and English. This pedagogy builds on the learnersŐ linguistic background and previous knowledge, and contributes to vocabulary growth by linking the unknown target language to the known native language of the learner. This study has been piloted on a sample that was selected from students attending Arabic 101 at Princeton University in the fall semester of 2006. StudentsŐ learning outcomes were measured by studentsŐ numerical semester grades in Arabic. The studentsŐ test results revealed that using computer structured activities of Arabic- English cognates in oral and written contexts enabled the students to form semantic association of target words, lead to studentsŐ active involvement with the new words, and positively correlated with student learning outcomes.

Room 222

ePortfolio and The Speech Center

Sean Palmer, LaGuardia Community College

As blogs become increasingly popular with the general public, they are quickly making their way into the foreign language classroom. Teachers are finding them especially appropriate for developing studentsŐ writing skills in the L2.

The presenters will begin by explaining briefly the technical aspects of blogs. They will then describe three collaborative class projects that they designed and implemented in their French and ESL classes. Two of the projects involved students in a single classroom while the third involved students in two different locations. Participants will view samples of student blogs and engage in a discussion of these writing samples.

The presenters will ask participants to share their own experiences with blogs and will conclude with a comparison of blogs and course management discussion boards, stating what they see as the benefits and drawbacks of each technology.

3:00 – 3:30:
Break ... Refreshments available ,

3:30 - 4:15

Session 5

Room 220

Push vs. pull and LRC dissemination via technology

Jill Robbins, National Capital Language Resource Center

The mission of the nationally funded Language Resource Centers (LRCs) has changed dramatically with the development of interactive web technology. Where the LRCs once published hard copies of research reports and teaching guides, now the delivery of conetent is electronic and a movement toward interactive, Web 2.0 applications is evident. This presentation demonstrates ways the LRCs now 'push' information to teachers and students through podcasts, blogs, and listservs. It also demonstrates ways the LRC pulls readers toward more interactivity with blogs, surveys, and polls. In-person teacher institutes are still a mainstay of the LRCs, but participants can now get a taste of the workshops through podcasts. An open discussion of the new media available on LRC websites and suggestions for improvement concludes this session.


Room 222

Using Moodle to support Languages Across the Curriculum at Skidmore

Cindy Evans, Skidmore College

For five years, Skidmore has offered an individualized LAC program allowing students enrolled in virtually any class taught in English to take a 1-credit LAC component in which they read materials in the target language to supplement their disciplinary study.

The weekly one-hour LAC session consists of a variety of activities to promote vocabulary acquisition, reading comprehension, and mastery of grammatical structures. In spring 2006, we implemented the use of web-based resources to facilitate both individual and collaborative work in the LAC program using the moodle course management system. We made use of the glossary and wiki functions to create a common ground for the studentsŐ diverse content areas. I will describe the expanding the role of technology in my second semester of implementing moodle (fall Ő06) to address other skill areas (writing, speaking, and listening) through peer editing and podcasting. This semester, I am teaching a new upper-division LAC course in its inaugural semester. I will discuss my experiences using moodle to support the curriculum at a more advanced level with increased emphasis on writing.

Room 203

"Same old song?" Pas du tout! Increasing the motivation of our students through an innovative and creative synergy of songs and video clips in the second language classroom

Martine Benjamin, Smith College

Music has always been a powerful and fun tool to encourage language learning and its lyrics are an important foundation for building language.

Music surrounds us everywhere, and thanks to Steve Jobs, most students wake up with their iPods, stay tuned to music through the day and evening with their iPods, and go to bed with their iPods. And so it would seem logical and even compelling to go with the flow, and explore the exciting ways in which music might help promote and improve foreign language learning.

Of course, the music that we would use is no longer the ancient childhood songs of previous generations (the inescapable "Frere Jacques"), but rather the tunes and videos of the world of MTV-integrated in an innovative and interactive manner with Video-clips of the most current pop star singers.

The Video-clip combines all the most important skills associated with language learning, and as the daily newspaper "Le Monde" formulated in a prescient piece more than twenty years ago:" Fils de Monsieur Cinema et de Madame Musique, le video-clip est ne de la Television et a les yeux de Tante Publicite."

The Video-clip, if chosen wisely, would be a highly productive and enjoyable tool for the student to develop language skills, to work on listening and speaking, to improve pronunciation, to enrich vocabulary, and at the same time, to become familiar and understanding of another culture and its most current, relevant, and often riveting issues and concerns.

4:25– 5:00
Tour of Language Resource Center facilities at Cornell University
- if interested sign up at registration


Dinner (Optional, pre-registration required!)

Sunday, April 1

8:30 - 9:00


9:10 - 10:00

Session 6

Room 220

A Lab Director's perspective on assessing speaking proficiency

Claire Bradin Siskin, University of Pittsburgh

At the presenter's university, there is currently great concern about how students' speaking proficiency in foreign language classes might be evaluated according to ACTFL Standards. The ACTFL Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI) is expensive and cumbersome to administer to a large number of students. The Simulated Oral Proficiency Interview (SOPI) uses audiocassette tapes and results in an inconvenient and outdated means of managing student data.

The University of Pittsburgh Oral Proficiency Language Assessment Instrument (UPOLAI), a software tool designed to facilitate the evaluation of students' oral proficiency, has been developed. The UPOLAI will allow large groups of students to be tested simultaneously. Students are presented with language tasks similar to those used in the SOPI. The students' responses are recorded, and their audio files are uploaded to the server. Their responses are scored by raters who are trained according to ACTFL Guidelines.

The UPOLAI has already been used for 7 Spanish classes and 2 German classes. This semester, a module will be created for French, the modules for Spanish and German will be refined, and additional classes will be tested. An extensive bank of language tasks will be produced, and the software will be integrated with a database. The reliability of the UPOLAI will be determined by administering the ACTFL OPI to a cross-section of students and comparing their scores with those obtained on the UPOLAI.

In this session, the presenter will demonstrate the UPOLAI software and describe its development. She will emphasize the entire process from the perspective of a lab director.

Room 222

Professional development of foreign language instructors: Emerging technologies and new pedagogies

Nelleke Van Deusen-Scholl and Ed Dixon, University of Pennsylvania

Recent studies have shown how emerging technologies are changing learner and teacher roles and are having a profound impact on the way in which foreign languages are taught. Among the benefits of computer-mediated instruction are, for example, greater emphasis on learner autonomy, more immediate access to authentic resources, and a highly interactive and learner-centered environment. In this exciting, fast-changing learning environment, instructors, however, must become trained in using the new technologies but also in applying them in pedagogically appropriate and effective ways.

In this presentation, we will describe a model for professional development that integrates technology training with pedagogical applications and guides instructors toward innovative, technology-enhanced teaching approaches. At the center of this model is a small-grants program that encourages instructors to develop course and curriculum improvement projects, the majority of which focus on integration of technology. We will outline the professional development components of this program and highlight a number of projects that exemplify the pedagogical innovations that are emerging as a result of this; for example, the use of BlackBoard for sharing multimedia resources; podcasting; creating materials for business language instruction; using CMC for culture learning; and creating authentic materials for the Less Commonly Taught Languages.

10:10 - 11:00

Room 205

New Directions: Innovations in Language Learning Technology


Cindy Evans, Skidmore College
Edward Dixon, University of Pennsylvania
Mary Toulouse, Lafayette College
Michael Jones, Swarthmore College
Dick Feldman, Cornell University


The panel will discuss a range of innovations: Hip Hop and culture podcasts; iTunes University; smart teaching with a smart board; a range of technologies used for Distance Learning of Less Commonly Taught Languages; and the latest in classroom technology. It'll be a combination of what we're doing and what we're planning to do.

11:10 - Noon

Room 205

Your Turn (Open Mic)

Opportunity To Ask Questions, Seek Advice, Present Issues

Noon - 1:00

Room 203

Business Meeting & Box Lunch

(Note: Lunch is Optional, pre-registration required!)