Integration of Videoconferencing in ESP and EAP Courses: Focus on Community of Practice Interaction.

Integration of Videoconferencing in ESP and EAP Courses: Focus on Community of Practice Interaction.

Hana Katrnakova (Masaryk University, Czech Republic)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 21
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2724-4.ch012

Abstract

This chapter is devoted to the use of videoconferencing technology and other social media tools for creating a community of practice communication within which authentic tasks and activities in multicultural ESP and EAP classes can be carried out. It describes theoretical background for effective use of these media based on the results of INVITE project and other research in the area, it mentions the importance of international institutional cooperation and the chapter shares examples of good practice pointing at their advantages. Samples of end-of-course feedback reflecting students´ worries at the beginning of the course, their personal and professional achievements at the end of the course are included as well.
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Setting The Stage

The consortium of six partners came from the United Kingdom, Spain, the Czech Republic, Italy, and Slovakia. Three of these were public universities and two were private manufacturing companies. The sixth was a private further education company. The consortium was led by the project co-ordinator, Hana Katrňáková, and could focus more systematically on work as a result of funding from the Leonardo da Vinci Programme in 2006. Results of the two-year INVITE project, “Communication Technologies and Acquiring Academic and Professional Communication Skills: An Interactive Learning Infrastructure and New Methodology,” can be found at http://invite.cjv.muni.cz. In this project, the consortium:

  • 1.

    Developed training and learning materials for academic and professional purposes

  • 2.

    Experimented with effective use of advanced technological resources for authentic communication tasks

  • 3.

    Created an internationally-accessible virtual learning environment

    • a.

      Developing and utilizing an open subject village website

    • b.

      Matching academic outcomes with the needs of prospective employees

Morgan was a driving force in developing and teaching the theoretical framework of a new teaching methodology. Other team members—Janice de Haaf, Hradilová, and Libor Štěpánek—were leaders in experimenting with the VC framework and tasks concerning organisational, technical, intercultural, and language skills. Chovancová developed useful preparatory exercises and Quick VC guides, which were prepared in English, German, French, Spanish and Czech.

The INVITE project experimented with three forms of VC sessions. In the first, two groups from different institutions formed an EAP or ESP VC class. This type will be described below in more detail. In the second, one VC equipment was used in a traditional format in order to give lectures and provide feedback on the students’ writing. Hradilová and Štěpánek experimented in this area and developed a highly successful and motivating course for PhD students at Masaryk University. The third, called the critical audience group, allowed students who majored in one subject (e.g.: business) to receive feedback and peer reviews from counterparts not necessarily majoring in the same subject.

All three types of VC have been used at the Language Centre of MU with both their traditional (AU) and new academic partners (UH or Paddeborn University). New teachers (including Katrňáková, Lenka Zouhar Ludvíková, and Blanka Pojslová) joined the original project team in using VC creatively in a number of courses (e.g.: intercultural communication in academic settings or case studies for business students).

VC allows students to practise and develop a range of skills in multicultural communication. Within a virtual classroom, communication becomes more authentic and students seem to be motivated to use English as a lingua franca. This chapter focuses primarily on the first type of courses mentioned above, i.e.: on using VC to practise negotiation and argumentation as a preparation for mock trials. The two courses are chosen because VC is used as a part of a legal English course in which students prepare group presentations, complete surveys, discuss issues in a multicultural environment while the focus is both on specific and general English, allowing academic English skills to be practised too.

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