In this study, I attempted to offer a pedagogical model for intercultural CMC projects, drawing on the KOAM project that connected one graduate-level EFL classroom in Korea with one college-level pre-service teacher education course in the United Stat ...
In this study, I attempted to offer a pedagogical model for intercultural CMC projects, drawing on the KOAM project that connected one graduate-level EFL classroom in Korea with one college-level pre-service teacher education course in the United States. Major suggestions for implementing the project can be summarized as follows:
1) Compatibility between partner classes is essential. During pre-project preparation in moderating with a suitable partner, we considered how many class hours per semester the teacher was willing to devote to the project. We also evaluated respective class goals to make sure they were complementary.
2) CMC projects should be integrated into the larger curricular program, rather than function as stand-alone activities (Warschauer, 1995; Greenfield, 2003). A tremendous amount of teacher set-up and planning must precede a CMC exchange. This may involve familiarizing students with unfamiliar skills, such as those needed for cooperative learning, intercultural understanding, or small group discussions. Our Korean students, for example, required many hours of training and in-class discussion on how to be active participants in the online discussion before they felt comfortable participating in the activities jointly conducted with their American peers.
3) I have learned that sustaining CMC interaction is vital. However, initiating, managing, and sustaining an interaction online can be a real challenge for students. The teacher can help the students acquire some of the socio-pragmatic and socio-cultural skills associated with opening online conversations, seeking out areas of common interest and maintaining the online interaction. For example, raising a learner's awareness of how conversational openings and closings are effected, how topics enter and disappear, and how speakers engage in strategic acts of politeness. These strategies and techniques can be practiced beforehand in the classroom using activities that involve role-play, perhaps, and the real life knowledge and interests of students.
4) It is also important for teachers to monitor communications to help watch out for special problems arising from intercultural communications. The teacher's role, then, is to facilitate the ongoing exchanges. Communication breakdown may occur during intercultural exchanges and students respond to cultural dissonance differently. Although our students did not suffer from any serious culture shock, we noticed that intercultural exchanges inherently involved some sort of misunderstanding that might lead to cultural clashes.
5) Following the discussion of each topic with peers abroad, students should be given opportunities to evaluate the linguistic and cultural information received from their foreign counterparts. An adequate amount of class hours can be set aside for further analysis of syntax and vocabulary observed in the online exchanges received from the students abroad. In our project, students discussed their observations of different perspectives and cultures, weaving recently acquired language structures and vocabulary into the discussion. Such discussions also incorporated comparison and contrast between the target and the native cultures, while promoting increased use of newer vocabulary and of targeted language tasks.
The purpose of the study was to provide step-by-step guidelines for effective implementation of CMC in any college-level EFL classroom, focusing on what teachers should do in each phase. I hope that the recommendations will be useful to CMC-minded teachers and researchers exploring pedagogically sound teaching practices as well as some theoretical foundations underlying them.