Connected Learners: Online and Off-Line Learning With a Focus on Politeness Intercultural Competences

Connected Learners: Online and Off-Line Learning With a Focus on Politeness Intercultural Competences

Carmen Santamaría-García (University of Alcalá, Spain)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5463-9.ch005

Abstract

Technology-enhanced language learning (TELL) is moving ahead from the use of technology in language labs to the possibilities offered by technology in setting up new ways of communication and interactivity. The effectiveness of teaching seems to depend more on teachers' ability to motivate students by connecting to their interests and catering for different intelligences. Teachers' creativity and empathy with them will constitute essential skills for the design of tasks and projects that connect with digital native students' interests. Consideration of cultural aspects will be of essential importance in our globalized world, as learning a language must always take into account cultural variables. The objective of this chapter is to review the challenges that technology and interculturality pose to foreign language teachers and note some of the possible solutions that may facilitate efficient teaching. Politeness theory will be discussed as a theoretical framework providing resources for building social identity and doing relational work with different cultures.
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Introduction

Nowadays, the role of technology in supporting and enhancing language learning is widely accepted (Stanley, 2013; Walker & White, 2013). Technology-Enhanced Language Learning (TELL) is currently adopted in language classrooms and spread along all the levels of education in order to enhance teaching and learning. Moving ahead from the use of technology by former CALL (computer assisted language learning), the focus is shifting from language lab computers to the possibilities offered by technology in shaping new ways of communication and interactivity that can be used for teaching and learning.

Ubiquitous laptops, tablets and smartphones are changing the ways that younger generations of digital natives interact in all the spheres of their lives, with online social practices permeating through offline contexts and vice-versa. As Jones, Chik and Hafner (2015) note, “Digital technologies have altered our experience of the spatial and temporal aspects of context by creating complex ‘layerings’ of online and offline spaces” (p. 9). Lines between online and offline social practices become blurred as digital technologies are altering not only the ways people interact online but also the ways they do so in physical spaces, as Merchant (2015) shows in his discussion on the presence of digital characters in physical spaces. In educational contexts we can see teachers and students sharing texts, images or videos online while commenting on them both on and off-line, often simultaneously. This new reality is challenging the many ways to have technology integrated in teaching and learning. Digital native students (see Walker & White, 2013) are losing interest in published course book materials and they frequently express dissatisfaction when they feel that texts or videos are obsolete. They are used to sharing fresh videos every day and to reacting with both online comments and offline discussions with peers. Why not trying to get closer to the excitement of sharing videos of relevance for them and make use of their learning potential?

Digitally mediated discourse opens the scope for new social practices and forms of interaction, including the production of multimodal texts, which are not usually featured in teaching. Video blogs (vlogs, henceforth), for instance, combine spoken language and some occasional written text in the vlogger’s discourse with written comments in the users’ reactions. Vlogs are becoming a pervasive means of social communication with different uses as entertainment and building of community feelings, as discussed in Santamaría (2016). Their application in the field of TELL is still to be explored and this chapter aims at highlighting some possibilities. Requesting candidates to send a short video is becoming a common selection procedure for organizations and using vlogs in the classroom can familiarize students with the genre. It will also prepare learners for a world in which connectedness is becoming more important than ever.

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