Slavic Languages and Literatures
What matters most to you in your teaching?
How are you using technology as a tool to achieve your teaching goals?
How have your students responded to your use of technology?
What new goals do you have for using technology in teaching?
How could the university better facilitate the use of technology in instruction?
Show what you're talking about
Learning through doing
Use authentic materials
Using Love to Inspire Communication
Keeping my students' interest is very important. When they come to my class, they've decided for some reason to take Russian or Ukrainian, and they have some motivation to learn the language. So I try to transfer that motivation into interest and love for the language. I try to show them the culture and the people, and they come to love the country and the culture in general. And when they love something they try to understand it better. America and Russia are two different worlds. When they fall in love with my country and my people, the communication between our countries becomes better. As ambitious and idealistic as it sounds, I think language instruction is a way to save the world.
I use technology to show students movies, television programs, and songs to make them better understand what I'm talking about. I make these materials, along with tests, quizzes, and interactive assignments created with Hot Potatoes, available on the class website. I go to YouTube to show them how Ukrainian songs are beautiful. They try to memorize the songs and sing along with the Ukrainian girls. I also use technology to give them the confidence that they can communicate in the target language. For example, I frequently use Wimba in my classroom, and it gives them confidentiality when speaking. They feel like they can speak the language because they're not afraid of Wimba as they are a live instructor. It makes it easier for them to speak, try things out, and then get oral feedback from me.
I've also been using blogs to build their confidence. After the first week I give them an assignment to create a blog in the Russian language. At first they create small, small blogs with pictures and basic information like, "This is my family, this is my dog," and so on. And then immediately they receive feedback because Russians are trying to write to them and comment on the blog. They have this real communication, and they feel like, "Oh, I can do that." After the next lesson they leave my class and say, "Oh, I learned something new I can add to my blog." This way they have a connection with the language in reality. They are also memorizing grammar, but it's a practical use of language. I like it when they make Russian "girlfriends" or "boyfriends," even virtual ones, because then they learn to talk the language a hundred times faster and easier than usual.
The students are often amazed with what they can do. First of all I have to show them that they can do it, that they can learn and speak this language. They think Russian 1 will be very difficult, but I am trying to show them that it is so easy and so interesting. Once they realize that, they really like it.
I have one new goal, which is to make more language podcasts for students. It works really well, but unfortunately I don't have time to do it more. I did it for advanced level, and my idea is to make language podcasting for beginners and intermediate. Podcasts work perfectly in a language classroom. The students can listen to my recording, and I have the ability to implant music, songs, and different sound effects. They like it so much and it really helps them memorize everything.
The University could facilitate the use of technology in instruction by giving instructors more time to create these kinds of projects. The main problem I have is that I don't have enough time. I have a lot of students, and a lot of classes, so it makes it impossible to stop and do something new. More time to develop such technology projects would be very valuable.