The Globally Connected Language Classroom: A Case Study of an International Project in Two Intermediate Level German Courses between Denison University and the American University in Bulgaria

Global Project Partners and Authors:

dillmann_gabrieleGabriele Dillmann, Julian H. Robertson Jr. Endowed Associate Professor of German, Modern Languages Department, Denison University, Granville, OH, 43023, USA (Dillmann@denison.edu and dillmanngabriele@gmail.com)

Gabriele Dillmann teaches German language, German, Swiss and Austrian literature and culture, and special seminars on psychoanalytic theory in the Modern Languages Department at Denison University. In her teaching, she makes use of the newest technologies to enhance not only student learning in regards to all things German, but also to help her students learn skills in intercultural competencies and global learning. She is dedicated to CLAC pedagogy and team-teaching as a pedagogical approach. Her scholarly interests are increasingly vested in how digital technologies shape how we learn and teach now and in the near future. Her more traditional scholarship is in the area of German Romanticism and psychoanalytic theory, specifically suicide studies. Last year, she was awarded the Robertson Endowed Chair at Denison for her work in teaching, service, and scholarship.

StantchevaDiana Stantcheva, Associate Professor of German, Department of Arts, Languages, and Literature, American University in Bulgaria, 1 Georgi Izmirliev Sq., Blagoevgrad 2700, Bulgaria. (dstantcheva@aubg.bg and diana.stantch@gmx.de)

Diana Stantcheva earned her M.A. in German linguistics, Spanish studies, and New German literature at Humboldt University in Berlin, Germany, and received her Ph.D. in German linguistics from the same university. Dr. Stantcheva also has an additional teacher qualification for German as a Foreign Language from Humboldt University in Berlin and is a certified and sworn translator and interpreter of German and Bulgarian. Dr. Stantcheva has taught at Humboldt University in Berlin, at Goethe-Institute Sofia, and was a research fellow at Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences, Germany. Since fall semester 2005, she has been teaching at the American University in Bulgaria. She teaches all levels of German, from beginners to advanced, as well as specialized language courses. Dr. Stantcheva has published two books and several scholarly articles and chapters in the areas of phraseology, lexicography, corpus linguistics, and linguistic historiography. Her current researchinterests are in foreign language didactics, phraseology, lexicography, corpus linguistics, language and gender, translation studies,terminology, and linguistic historiography.

Abstract

The language classroom is a most fruitful place for intercultural, global learning. Digital technologies allow us to make intercultural connections like never before and in the process language-learning benefits from real communication about real issues. Connecting two language courses globally requires overcoming many obstacles and challenges (time difference, collaboration, technology, funding, resources, etc.) but a strong belief that the benefits outweigh the costs serves as a constant source for pushing on.

The goal of our project (started in Fall semester 2013) was – and continues to be – to enrich our connected courses with an intercultural perspective through the direct exchange between students and faculty members as we discuss shared small group assignments via Google+ Hangout and Google doc shared writing assignments (of course, “traditional” technologies such as email and skype compliment the exchanges) all the while expanding and enhancing student’s language skills in German.

Our paper provides a research summary, describes in detail how we pursued the described goals with a special focus on the digital technologies we used and their pedagogical value, and gives a candid assessment of what worked well and what needs further exploration. We also briefly discuss the next step of the project, namely aligning the courses synchronously via video-conferencing technologies in addition to the Google+ Hangouts.

Continue reading