Communicating in a Foreign Language: Speaking as a Web-based Activity

Dr. Olga Kagan
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WIMBA (a web-based vocal communication product) is used to facilitate and promote vocal instruction, collaboration, coaching, and assessment beyond the traditional language laboratory environment. WIMBA allows learners to record their speaking, send it to the instructor and receive oral or written feedback. It increases opportunities for developing fluency. Students have an opportunity to practice, record and re-record their voices before submitting the assignment to the instructor. This tool appears to help students achieve a confidence level that promotes active learning, helps diction, and motivates further study. It provides more speaking opportunities for all students but especially for those who have difficulty with oral production.

The paper will present a variety of WIMBA-based exercises and will analyze students’ performance and feedback. The questions we seek to answer: 1) Can use of the web for oral production replicate or replace teacher-mediated classroom instruction? 2) What kinds of web-based oral exercises do students find most efficient: a) real-time voice conferencing feature, b) voice messaging, threaded voice boards that allow speaking and reading at the same time, c) voice-enabled e-mail? 3) Do students produce more language when speaking on the web or face-to-face? 4) What do students find more satisfactory in the web-mediation: speaking practice or grammar instruction? We conclude that based on our data that many of the communicative activities can be done on the web while the bulk of the grammar instruction needs to be done in class. This result contradicts some current curricular thinking and administrative practices.

Keywords: WIMBA, Oral proficiency, Teacher-mediated classroom, Web-based activities
Stream: Technology in Education
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.

Dr. Olga Kagan

Director, Language Resource Center, Language Resource Center
Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)


Olga Kagan, Ph.D. is Coordinator of the Russian Language Program at the Slavic Department and Director of the Language Resource Center at UCLA. She is the co-author of a second-year Russian textbook V Puti, Prentice Hall, 1996 and of a textbook for heritage speakers Russian for Russians, Bllomington, IN: Slavica, 2003. She is co-editor of the The Teaching and Learning of Slavic Languages and Cultures, Bllomington, IN: Slavica Publishers, 2000 that received an award for the Best Contribution to Pedagogy of the American Association of Teachers of Russian and Eastern European Languages (AATSEEL). Her most recent research interests focus on curricular development for heritage speakers. She was awarded an AATSEEL award for the Best Contribution to Pedagogy in 2004 for the textbook for Heritage Learners of Russian “Russian for Russians”.

Ref: T06P0075