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Learning to teach with videoconferencing in primary foreign language classrooms

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 September 2011

Shona Whyte*
Affiliation:
Université de Nice-Sophia Antipolis, UMR 6039 Bases, Corpus, Langage, UFR Lettres, Arts, et Sciences Humaines, 98 boulevard Herriot, BP 3209, 06204 NICE CEDEX 3, France (email: whyte@unice.fr)

Abstract

This qualitative study investigates the relationship between learning opportunities and teacher cognition in the context of a videoconferencing (VC) project for foreign languages (FL) in French primary schools. Six generalist primary teachers were followed throughout the initial six-month stage of the initiative, and data were collected from learners, teachers, and trainers via questionnaire, video and audio recordings of class and feedback sessions, online teacher and trainer discussion, and video-stimulated recall interviews. Interview data revealed distinct teacher profiles involving differences in orientation to teaching and the teacher, learning and learners, and technology. These profiles corresponded to different teaching strategies and resulted in varying patterns of learner interaction in VC sessions. Teachers’ comments showed them to be guided by general rather than FL-specific pedagogical principles, and pedagogical concerns frequently intersected with technical issues as teachers learned to exploit the new VC technology. While most teachers valued spontaneous FL interaction as a key VC affordance, the filmed sessions revealed little unplanned learner-learner communication. This finding is related to teachers’ views of second language acquisition as product rather than a process; for more learner-centred teachers, spontaneity was affected by rehearsal, and for more teacher-oriented practitioners, sustained teacher intervention influenced patterns of learner participation. In addition to these classroom findings, the study highlights the value of this type of participant research in facilitating the exchange of resources and expertise, classroom video footage, and participants’ comments and queries, and thus contributing to professional development in CALL and CMC-based teacher education.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © European Association for Computer Assisted Language Learning 2011

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