Experiential simulation for the foreign language curriculum: Transforming learners into multimodal language users
Reflecting on how globalization is reshaping foreign language education, Kramsch (2014) remarked that there has “never been a greater tension between what is taught in the classroom and what the students will need in the real world once they have left the classroom” (p. 296). What skills, competence, and knowledge do learners need to contribute and participate in both a global community and local cultures? Language proficiency, intercultural competence and digital literacy skills are unquestionably essential to the 21st century language learners but their effective integration in the classroom represent a challenging endeavor. This presentation examines how an experiential learning approach framed within a socio-constructivist view of learning can guide the creation of a learning environment conducive to the development of learners’ multimodal, multidimensional, linguistics, and intercultural skills. Kolb’s (1984) model for experiential learning and Kohonen’s (2001) work informed the design of an experiential simulation designed to connect learners enrolled in a commercial French course with current real-world digital practices.Starting with the creation of a fictitious company selling a fictitious product, learners progress through several collaborative and individual tasks culminating with the co-construction of a website.The analysis of reflective essays written by 20 students at the conclusion of the simulation explores how students perceived the collaborative and dynamic digital text construction affected their personal growth and development as language learners and users. Comments suggest that the opportunity to use the foreign language for their own communicative intentions promotes active participation in the learning process, self discovery, and multimodal presentational skills.
Kohonen, V. (2001). Towards experiential foreign language education. In V. Kohonen, R. Jaatinen, P. Kaikkonen, & J. Lehtovaara (Eds.), Experiential learning in foreign language education (pp. 8-60). London: Pearson Education.
Kolb, D. (1984). Experiential learning. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Kramsch, C. (2014). Teaching foreign languages in an era of globalization: Introduction. The Modern Language Journal, 98(1), 296–311.
Isabelle Drewelow is an Assistant Professor of French and Linguistics and the French Language Program Director for Beginning and Intermediate Instruction at the University of Alabama. She is an alumna of the UW-Madison Doctoral Program in Second Language Acquistion.