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Collaborating in the World Language Classroom

Collaborating in the World Language Classroom

Author: Rene Ashman

To provide examples of how  technology can be implemented as a means of fomenting collaborative work in the world language classroom while strengthening the fundamental skills we strive for our children to achieve.

Lesson #1: Asynchronous communication through  Voiceboards or Discussion boards

Lesson #2:  Writing assignment corrected by native speaker

Lesson #3:  Virtual lessons developed collaboratively which allow for PBL work while strengthening aural, oral, writing and reading skills

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Learning from others

Asynchronous communication through voiceboards or discussion boards


Technology tools employed:

                                               Voiceboards (offered through Wimba on Moodle or textbook sites)

                                               Discussion boards on Canvas

                                                Voxopop (free and easy but limited)

Context:  Generally homework, but can be done in a language lab or if you have computers in the classroom

Communicative outcome:  Asking and answering personal questions related to a topic

Linguistic outcome: application of specific grammar or vocabulary

Assignment example:  Ask your peers four questions about their household chores and answer four of your classmate’s questions.  Use the present tense the vocabulary introduced on pages 17-18 in the text.

Collaborative piece: Students listen to the questions their peers have posted and respond accordingly. Weaker students tend to wait until later in the evening to answer so they can listen to example questions.  The students who are able to utilize more complex grammatical structures “teach” their peers through their examples.    At the same time they are reinforcing the grammar/vocabulary in a real, communicative asynchronous experience.

Discussion Board questions

Writing assignments edited by Native Speakers



Technology tool employed:


Context:  Generally homework, but can be done  as an in-class writing assignment

Communicative outcome:  Varies with the writing task.  Cross-cultural connections.  Cultural and linguistic self-awareness.

Linguistic outcome: application of any grammatical structure or thematic vocabulary

Assignment example:

               Spanish IV.  In a paragraph, compare and contrast two of Ana Maria Matute’s short stories

Spanish II.   When was the last time you went to a party?  Using the preterit and imperfect tenses describe your experience.

Collaborative piece: Students submit their writing as a journal entry in Lang 8.  They read the English entries of native Spanish speakers and have their own work edited.

Collaborative development of on-line mini-lesson

Examples of student work

Potential technology tools employed:








Context:  Project based learning.  Students are given time to collaborate face-face in class and homework time to work with google.sites or other tech tools

Communicative outcome:  Varies with task.  I try to incorporate a listening, reading, speaking and writing component to this task.

Linguistic outcome: application of any grammatical structure or thematic vocabulary

Assignment example:

Activity: Students work in groups to research a topic and, then teach the material virtually by creating a web presence.

Collaborative piece:  Students are intentionally placed with partners with different skill and preferably with those with whom they are least likely to select as a partner.  They are encouraged to identify their partner’s strengths and  rely on their skills and talents.

Collaborative work #1

Collaborative work #2