Tel Aviv University
February 27, 2018
Paving Students’ Way:
Harnessing Plurilingualism, Technology and Internationalization to Develop Linguistic and Intercultural Competence
Prof. Cristina Maria Moreira Flores, University of Minho, Braga, Portugal
- Educating for the 21st century
- Insights and experiences aligning with the CEFR
- Internationalization and English as a medium of instruction
- Telecollaborative Initiatives in higher education
- Practical experiences using technology for language learning
- Language policy
- Testing, evaluation and assessment
- Teacher development
- Inclusive classrooms
- The creative force of linguistic diversity
- Promoting cooperation among communities, peoples and nations
- The right to plurilingual and intercultural education
- Approaches and implications of teaching heritage language learners
Winning Abstracts & Presentations
Issues in Learning and Teaching a Heritage Language:
Evidence from Heritage Speakers of Portuguese
Prof. Cristina Maria Moreira Flores
Universidade do Minho, Portugal / Instituto Camões
This talk aims to provide insights from linguistic studies on heritage language development and, ultimately, link key findings in this area of research with issues of heritage language pedagogy. Based on empirical evidence from studies on Portuguese as a heritage language (mainly bilingual speakers living in Germany), I intend to show that studying the linguistic development of heritage speakers enriches not only our theoretical linguistic and psycholinguistic understanding of language development, but may also be of central importance for pedagogical intervention. Importantly, I will highlight the particularities of heritage language competences and sketch how input factors, namely overall reduced contact with the target language and limited exposure to standard varieties and formal registers, shape this competence.
Oral Proficiency: Moving Forward in Baby Steps
Dr. Tziona Levi
Chief Inspector, English Language Education
Ministry of Education
In the talk, I will describe the small steps taken to implement a nation-wide program that promotes oral skills.
Connecting the AMIR and the CEFR Scales
Ruth Fortus, National Institute for Testing and Evaluation
In 2014, as part of the ECOSTAR project, an exploratory study was conducted to investigate the relationship between the local AMIR scale and the CEFR scale. Israeli students, whose AMIR score was known, took a CEFR-based test, while European students, whose CEFR score was known, took an AMIR test. In the first part of the presentation, the main elements and results of this study will be reported.
In the second part of the presentation, writing samples written by college and university students studying at different EAP levels will be shown. Audience participation is welcome as we look at progression (or lack thereof) in the CEFR descriptors across the levels.
Towards Internationalization and EMI:
English Departments Leading the Way
Prof. Ofra Inbar-Lourie, Tel Aviv University
Dr. Linda Weinberg, Braude College of Engineering
In this workshop we will contemplate the role of the English department in view of the growing move towards internationalization in the Israeli academia. Following a short introduction of the current recommendations and call for action issued by the Council of Higher Education, we will share and discuss ideas on how English departments and the English teaching community at large can lead internationalization initiatives in institutions of higher learning in Israel. We will draw on the work done by Clive Lawrence in his institution as reflected in the English Medium Instruction (EMI) Handbook (2017).
Designing Student-Centered ESP Business Communication Courses
Designing authentic, relevant tasks, a supportive learning environment and engaging opportunities that maximize student-talk for over 30 students during 90-minute, CEFR-aligned Business Communication lessons are just some of the challenges in developing fast-paced ESP courses.
In this presentation, we discuss our student-centered design approach in the ESP courses in the School of Business Administration at Ruppin Academic College. We demonstrate how the combination of SWOT analysis, dynamic technology, diverse communication models, and Pecha Kucha presentations turned daunting two-credit course preparation and implementation into a rewarding teaching and learning experience. We share the process, tools, activities, and samples of evaluations that served to help our students identify and build upon their personal competencies while developing their interpersonal and presentation skills in English.
Paving Students’ Way:
Harnessing Business English to Develop Professional Competence
How can we educate for the 21st century and beyond? Israel faces educational challenges that test our standing as the high-tech nation.
Foremost on the list of essential skills for now and on to the future is English: there is an urgent need to upgrade standards of spoken and written English. I propose incorporating aspects of Business English into EAP classrooms to improve the level of professional English that will expand vocabularies, provide confidence in professional speaking, introduce business writing genres (such as email correspondence), and teach how to deliver a business pitch or oral presentation. Additionally, my understanding that Business English can open a window onto multiple cultures prompted me to incorporate a unit on business practices in other countries into the curriculum. Beginning with pair work, continuing to small groups, and progressing to speaking in front of the class, gradually expose students to increasingly larger audiences. I propose a curriculum for Business English and a simple method of teaching it in our higher education institutions. This curriculum provides for extensive oral practice for each student through pair and small group work and lets each progress to speaking in front of the whole class. The teacher models speaking and presentation techniques, and gives outlines for writing a formal business letter and a resume; students research companies and practice writing questions for job interviews. Materials from TED presentations and professional sites demonstrate authentic situational language.
Passport to Heaven? Sephardic Jews as Heritage Language Speakers
Rosalie Sitman, Tel Aviv University
Ivonne Lerner, Cervantes Institute and Tel Aviv University
In October 2015, the Spanish government passed the 12/2015 Law granting Spanish citizenship both to foreigners already living in Spain as well as to Sephardic Jews and their descendants, regardless of their place of residence. In order to prove their ties with Spain, every candidate must pass two exams that demonstrate their knowledge of Spanish language and culture.
In this talk, we would like to describe the impact that this law has had in Israel, in comparison to other contexts with Sephardic Jewish communities, such as Morocco, Greece, Turkey or Bulgaria. The Sephardic Jewish community in Israel is particularly heterogeneous. It comprises people born in Morocco, the Balkans or Israel, and thus raised—and often schooled—in languages such as French, Turkish, Serbian, Hebrew, or even Spanish. In addition, most of the Balkan Jews were exposed to one of the varieties of Judeo-Spanish and maintained it at various levels. All these learners share the same aim: to pass the D.E.L.E. A2 exam required by the Law.
The experience of teaching Spanish to these plurilingual adults has led us to rethink the concepts of native-speaker and mother tongue. Moreover, we have found that conceptualizations about heritage language learners may be applicable to the uniqueness of their situation—a population characterized by their advanced age and the fact that Judeo-Spanish is a language whose vitality is in question.
Writing a Heritage Curriculum for Studying Russian in Israeli High Schools: Theory and Practice
Marina Niznik, Tel Aviv University
Russian speakers compose one fifth of the Jewish population in Israel. About 6,000 students currently attend Russian classes in middle and high schools in Israel. About 60% of them were born in the FSU (Muchnik et.el.2017), others are Israeli-born children of Russian speaking parents. Almost all of them are heritage speakers (Fishman 1992, Valdes 2000) of the language.
From 1998, a special program for the study of Russian has been approved by the Ministry of Education, enabling students of Russian origin to maintain and/or to learn the language. However, the curriculum made no reference either to the term, or to the phenomenon of the heritage language learner. It did not deal systematically with the heterogeneous student population. The target population was defined as foreign language learners. A detailed investigation of the document reveals that the authors made an effort to address the diversity and special character of the students, but lacked the necessary professional expertise.
In 2017, the Ministry of Education decided to create a new curriculum of Russian as a school subject. Based on a large body of modern research, it seeks to provide students with opportunities to study not only language, but Russian literature and culture as well. The goal of the curriculum is to increase the literacy, communication skills, and cultural competence of the students in grades 7-12.
The proposed talk will focus on how the curriculum can better meet the diverse needs of heritage language learners.
Fishman, J. A. 1992. Conference summery. W. Fase, K. Jaspaert and S. Kroon, eds. Maintenance and Loss of Minority Languages, Amsterdam: John Benjamin Publishing: 395-403
Muchnik et.el. 2016. Elective Language Learning and Policy in Israel. Palgrave Macmillan, London,
Valdes, G. 2000. The teaching of heritage languages: An introduction for Slavic-Teaching Professionals. O. Kagan & B. Rifkin, eds. The Learning and Teaching of Slavic Languages and Cultures, eds. Bloomington, IN: Slavica: 375-403
Swales, J. (1990). Genre analysis: English in academic and research settings. Cambridge University Press.
Teacher Professional Development: Therapeutic Approach to Language Learning—NLP-Based and Guided Imagery-Assisted
Avital Halevy, Israel Academic College
In a post-modern age of instant messaging, multi-tasking and excessive stimuli coupled with incessant transformation, in-depth learning has become a “mission impossible” in many cases. Students today are barely mentally and emotionally free to learn and, thus, accumulate what they may perceive as academic failures and disabilities, which often leave permanent scars in the form of trauma, anxiety, and low self-esteem as a learner. Such blockage is even more severe in the case of language learning, since language errors may also put one in a position of a fool, since the medium of teaching is at the same time its subject matter.
As a result, I find the processes of language learning and therapy mutually-reinforcing and inseparable. The students need to be able to clear their academic past from inhibiting beliefs which have led to feelings of inadequacy, and learn to acquire facilitating beliefs by focusing instead on their unique capabilities and successful events, whatever they are. This can be accomplished only through a profound process of self-revelation accompanied by individual introspection. Such a process is, however, applicable only in a state of emotional balance. I find NLP—Neuro-Linguistic-Processing/ Programming coupled with Guided Imagery most effective in enabling emotional balance. In such state of mind, the students can find what’s best for them individually. Focusing on their abilities rather than their shortcomings produces facilitating behaviors, which in turn lead to improved results, and from there, the road is paved towards reinforcing facilitating beliefs, and thus perpetuating them to excellence.
This closed circle of facilitating beliefs—facilitating behaviors—improved results—facilitating beliefs—is based on a study conducted by Dov Roitman, the founder of a special NLP therapy for children, on students from Aleh High School of Sciences in Lod, whereby the study group consisted of students who have difficulties in exams and a control group of students with a record of excelling in exams. I find the study’s implications and applications very effective in my EAP classes, and strongly believe that it is the ESL lecturer’s role to become aware of this therapeutic approach before instilling effective strategies of language learning to our students, through learning techniques tailored to their individual learning styles, aptitudes, and fields of interests.
Inductive Techniques in Communicative Approach to EFL Teaching
Anna Voloskovich, Kibbutzim College of Education
The overall tendency of 21st century language teaching is towards creating a fully competent language speaker able to use both receptive and productive skills in everyday or business communication. To achieve this goal, students should first become accustomed to using their target language to solve any communicative task in class without resorting to an intermediary language. The techniques that can encourage students, to communicate in the target language, irrespective of their level, are based on the inductive method. This method was primarily used for teaching grammar, but has now acquired a broader application and is employed for teaching both vocabulary and speaking, reading, and writing. Within this method, students induce meaning in class, and formulate their own rules in the process of close-to-life communication with the teacher and among themselves, rather than getting ready-made rules and meanings. According to Herron & Tomasello (1992), students learn best when they can produce a hypothesis and receive immediate feedback, as this allows them to cognitively compare their own developing system to that of mature speakers. Applying this method encourages students to use the target language to make hypotheses and check them by answering and asking questions, from the initial stage of elicitation of the target vocabulary / grammar patterns / speaking or writing strategies. The inductive method also enables an integrative four-skill approach as it always implies a combination of productive and receptive skills at any stage of the lesson.
Herron, C., & Tomasello, M. (1992). Acquiring grammatical structures by guided induction. The French Review, 65(5), 708-718.
Richards, J.C. (2006). Communicative Language Teaching Today. Cambridge University Press; 1st revised edition.
Takimoto, M. (2008). The Effects of Deductive and Inductive Instruction on the Development of Language Learners’ Pragmatic Competence. The Modern Language Journal, Volume 92, Issue 3; 369–386.
Bailey, A. Ch. (2013). Understanding perspectives of English language learning and assessment practices: A mixed-method embedded study. University of Phoenix, ProQuest Dissertations Publishing, 2013. 3585961.
Rahman, S. (2016). Investigating Pedagogical Techniques in Classroom Interactions at a CELTA Training Programme; http://dx.doi.org/10.5539/elt.v9n9p1.
Aligning with the CEFR at the Pre-Basic Level—Innovations and Challenges
Galina Gordishevsky, Efrat Harel, Adi Gafni
Seminar Kibbutzim College of Education
This talk reports on the implementation of can-do statements of the CEFR at the Pre-Basic level, through collaboration between team members at the EAP department of Kibbutzim College of Education.
Following the demands of the global world, the field of EAP teaching in Israel is undergoing a dramatic change. From a solely reading-comprehension teaching field, it is rapidly turning into a much more comprehensive framework, which aims at meeting the various communicative demands placed on our students by globalization.
At the EAP department of the Kibbutzim College of Education, the CEFR-Aligned Framework for English in Higher Education has been warmly welcomed and embraced at all levels. In this talk, we will present a test case of how this framework has been applied at the Pre-Basic level. We will demonstrate our new syllabus based on the can-do statements encompassing the various skills, as well as the activities which we develop as a team to meet the outlined can-dos.
Although we focus on four skills, our greatest challenge is teaching academic reading. However, we realize that aligning with the CERF has made our teaching much more effective. To this end, we build integrative units which are designed to prompt not only reading comprehension skills, but also more interactive activities such as reflection and expressing an opinion on the topic read. We employ digital tools such Ted-ed, Padlet, Quizlet, Quizlet live, and Kahoot, and use Moodle for quizzes, forums, assignments etc. These well-chosen tools enhance our communicative and linguistic goals.
The Advanced Bet course at YVC: Genre-Based Language Teaching
Roseanne Kheir Farraj, Yezreel Valley College
The advanced bet course at Yizreel Valley College aims at cultivating students’ ability to access an academic article for academic purposes, such as eliciting information for the purpose of writing a seminar paper in Hebrew. Although this goal aligns with that of the Council for Higher Education, the YVC English Unit offers an interpretation of its own in designing the syllabus for the advanced bet course. Applying a sociocultural perspective on the notion of academic literacy, the YVC syllabus foregrounds genre-specific knowledge (Swales, 1990) over linguistic knowledge. Doing so is purported to help induct students into the practice of academic communication (Street and Leung, 2010) they are expected to handle independently in their academic studies, while optimizing the linguistic knowledge they have acquired to date in their English studies.
The purpose of this presentation is to discuss the rationale for the genre-based format of the advanced bet questionnaire by drawing on Halliday’s (2004) theory of meaning-making where linguistic knowledge constitutes only the outward layer of academic writing. Academic language is purported to be nested within interpersonal rules of communication as well as cultural orientations towards knowledge construction. Our questionnaire foregrounds these two layers of academic communication. Familiarizing students with the underlying structure of academic writing is believed to enhance their abilities when approaching an academic article. This will contribute to creating English classrooms that are more inclusive of learners coming from diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds, where their predominant modes of communication can be embedded within different cultural orientations towards knowledge construction.
Halliday, M. (2004). An introduction to functional grammar. New York: Routledge.
Street, B. and Leung, C. (2010). Sociolinguistics, language teaching and new literacy studies. In N. Hornberger and S. McKay (eds.) Sociolinguistic and language education (pp. 290-316). New York: Multilingual Matters.
De-Jargonizer: Technology for Assessing Vocabulary when Communicating with Expert/Non-Expert Audiences
Tzipora Rakedzon, Technion (presenter): <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Elad Segev, Holon Institute of Technology, <email@example.com>
Noam Chapnik, Holon Institute of Technology, <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Roy Yosef, Holon Institute of Technology, <email@example.com>
Baram Tsabari, Technion, <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Vocabulary is an integral part of language learning and assessment, not only for language learners, but for assessing vocabulary appropriateness in certain communicative contexts or tasks. One primary difficulty when communicating with non-experts is choosing vocabulary, or specifically, when to use technical jargon. To do so requires the classification of both technical and non-technical vocabulary. Such classification is needed by many professionals, such as scientists, doctors, lawyers, and economists, to communicate not only to other experts in the field, but also to the public and to policymakers. However, no standard guide exists for assessing or adjusting jargon-laden messages. In this research project, we present the development and validation of the data produced by a new, free, up-to-date, user-friendly program for assessing vocabulary and identifying jargon in written texts. The program is based on a corpus of over 90 million words tabulated in all the ~250,000 articles published on the BBC sites during the years 2012-2015, with yearly updates. In the development, guidelines from the literature were used to create the cutoffs for vocabulary levels. In the final version, the program color-codes the words in the text at three different levels based on the following cutoffs: high frequency (e.g. behavior), mid-frequency (e.g. protein) and jargon (e.g. dendritic). In addition to the tool development and usage, this presentation will also demonstrate a practical application of the tool in a study assessing vocabulary and jargon use of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) graduate students’ in an English academic writing course.
English Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) as a Means of Integrating Content and Language
Offering content courses in higher education using English as a Medium of Instruction (EMI) has been suggested as a tool to improve students’ proficiency in English, to promote internationalization, to allow for student mobility, and to increase employability.
In Israel, teacher education colleges use either Hebrew or Arabic as the language of instruction and most do not offer EMI courses. Due to the perceived value of EMI courses it was decided to introduce a less conventional type of EMI component in the largest teacher education college in Israel. Students were offered the option of registering for an EMI content course via an international MOOC. An additional rationale was to expose students to the existence of such platforms with the hopes that a successful experience would make them want to study more courses in the future, thereby encouraging them to pursue avenues for lifelong learning.
The research questions were: (1) What were the attitudes of position holders towards the initiative? (2) What were the reactions of all students towards the initiative? (3) What were the attitudes of those who studied in the course towards its added value?
The opportunity to participate and receive academic credits in an EMI MOOC was offered to students in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences during the years 2015-2017. So far 18 students have completed a course and more are expected to enroll by the end of the academic year. Questionnaires were distributed to all students prior to enrollment and on completion.
Results revealed mixed attitudes towards the initiative among position holders. Although students expressed initial enthusiasm, very few enrolled. Those who did, successfully completed the course and despite difficulties, all expressed satisfaction and willingness to take another such course in the future.
The presentation will elaborate on the challenges and opportunities that EMI MOOCs pose.
In our pre-academic, college preparation course, in EAP, in addition to teaching English language proficiency, we are committed to teaching our students digital skills, since they will need to develop their digital literacy as future professionals. Among the most effective digital materials we use is the 100 People Project. This project focuses on ten global issues, which will affect the lives of all global citizens in the future, “Having digital literacy …; includes a large variety of complex skills such as cognitive, motoric, sociological, and emotional” (Eshet-Alkali & Amichai-Hamburger, 2004: 421) that are necessary for the effective use of digital environments. According to Warschauer (2007), digital technologies have an immense impact on learning and literacy.
Technology is a key element to learners’ autonomy, and mobile devices are equally important in this respect. In this teaching arena, students are encouraged to use digital personal devices (DDPs).
As Peacock writes, “…teachers now adapt…empowering students by giving them access to a wide range of web-based tools that allow them to publish work and engage with live audiences in real contexts.”
We have found that the focus on relevant global issues is extremely motivating. Our students gain proficiency in digital skills as well as the English language. The learning experience becomes more meaningful, as students are allowed to focus on their particular areas of interest and select their own reading materials in English.
Our poster will reflect the above.
Eshet-Alkali, Y. & Amichai-Hamburger, Y. (2004). Experiments in Digital Literacy. Cyber Psychology & Behavior, 7(4), 421-429.
Peacock, M. (2013). Forward. In Innovations in learning technologies for English language teaching (G. Motteram, Ed.). British Council, p. 2. Retrieved from: http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/sites/teacheng/files/C607%20Information%20and%20Communication_WEB%20ONLY_FINAL.pdf
Warschauer, M. (2007). The paradoxical future of digital learning. Learning Inquiry, 1, 41-49.
Project-based Learning in Higher Education: Linking Theory with Practice
Dr. Randi Harlev, Ruppin Academic Center
This talk will report on a final group project implemented in a high intermediate (Mitkadmim Bet) EAP course in the School of Business Administration at Ruppin Academic College. The principles of project-based learning underpinned the process, and enabled the creation of a bridge between the carefully scaffolded input provided to EAP learners (reading strategies, writing strategies, vocabulary, and varied text types), and the authentic and divergent output possible in learner-created projects.
The group project built upon coursework completed in the first half of the course, and encompassed four phases. The final phase required each team to write a recommendation to the Head of the School of Business Administration answering an authentic, relevant question: How can the Ruppin School of Business Administration increase enrollment, based on its strategic position in the higher education market?
The process included locating appropriate sources, analyzing, and synthesizing information found using a business marketing tool (SWOT analysis—strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats), and planning, drafting, and writing up a properly structured recommendation report. Loop input was used to kick off the project by employing the same analytical business tool (SWOT) to assess the students’ own strengths, weakness, opportunities, and threats regarding the project itself. Both process and product were assessed using a scoring rubric. Learning outcomes included the writing of a five-paragraph research-based, business-oriented recommendation, the use of 21st century digital tools and authentic sources, and the ability to collaborate effectively with others.
Woodward, T. (1991). Models and Metaphors in Language Teacher Training.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Beyond Traditional Teaching:
Combining Brain-Friendly Learning with Technological Tools
Sara Tilleman, Ono Academic College
It’s a no-brainer to say that we are in the middle of a disruptive technological revolution which is transforming the way we live. Yet, the field of education seems to be lagging behind and the teacher continues to be the proverbial “sage on the stage,” particularly in higher education.
As teachers, we need to ask ourselves the following questions: Are we still teaching the same way that we have always taught? Are we doing anything different in our classrooms with our tech-savvy students and most important, do we really need to change our teaching paradigm from a teacher-centered approach to a more learner-centered approach? What is the best way to teach so that our students learn and retain knowledge/skills?
According to Brown, Roediger & McDaniel, “how we teach and study is largely a mix of theory, lore, and intuition” (p. 2) and in fact, effective learning can be counterintuitive. It’s clear that teaching does not equal learning and we are now fortunate to have a large body of evidence-based research which can provide us with instructional strategies to promote more effective learning.
This talk will focus on the changing pedagogical landscape and on the research regarding retrieval practice as a way to make our teaching more “sticky.” Examples of classroom activities will be presented that demonstrate how the use of instructional strategies, along with technological tools such as Padlet and Socrative can contribute to a more effective and successful learning experience for our students.
Brown, P., Roediger, H., & McDaniel, M. (2014) Make it stick: the science of successful learning. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press.
Empowering Plurilingual Classes with the History of the English Language
Erin Henriksen Iosebashvili
The David Yellin Academic College of Education
Israeli EAP students know that English is a global language. They are usually less aware, however, that English has always been international by virtue of its many intersections with other languages over the centuries. By teaching students basic information about the long history of lexical borrowing and lending in English, we can support two essential components of their language learning. First, such knowledge boosts students’ internal motivation. Particularly for learners with an L1 other than Hebrew, discovering loan words in English from their L1 stengthens their connection to English and acknowledges the value of their L1 and culture of origin. Secondly, all students benefit from greater understanding of functions in English—such as affixes, cognates, and morphology—that can be explained by learning about the history of English. Simply seeing “behind the scenes” of this unique language can empower students and reduce English anxiety. It is beneficial for English language students in plurilingual classrooms (and countries) to understand that English speakers have been interacting with speakers of other languages for centuries and that they, too, can join the international community of English speakers and its rich medium of cultural, scientific, and technological exchange. Scholars of language history have demonstrated why knowing how English has evolved has value for language learners (Curzan & Adams, 2014; Pannell, 2017). This talk explores learning activities for EAP students at all levels that expose the story of English as an international and intercultural language from its inception.
Telecollaboration —New directions in Higher Education
This talk reports on a study situated in an intercultural collaborative learning setting in the context of computer assisted English as an International Language (EIL) teacher training. The context of the research can be defined by the following factors: (1) the significance of internationalization in higher education; (2) the impact of EIL in a pluri-lingual global world, and (3) the efficiency of using technology in language teaching. The aim of our ongoing study is to document experiential learning and to foster participant reflection on online intercultural collaboration learning, hereon telecollaboration, as a relevant tool for EIL teachers. Our primary question is if including telecollaboration in EIL teacher training increases teachers’ development and willingness to integrate online language and intercultural learning into their future teaching practices.
Our talk will focus on our experiences over three semesters of telecollaboration with 134 student teachers of EIL: seventy eight Israeli student teachers, and fifty six German student teachers. Quantitaive data for the study were gathered through pre-post surveys, and qualitative data were gathered through interviews and written reflections.
Findings from the first two telecollaboration surveys showed positive impact on the students’ intercultural understanding and on their evaluation of well-chosen digital tools. However, a number of dilemmas persisted, especially the relatively low quality of the students’ task products at the conclusion of the telecollaborations. Hence, we modified our model in the third telecollaboration in a number of ways. Our talk will also report on the impact of these changes.
EMI in High School? Meet: Diplomacy and International Communication in English
The elective major for Israeli high schools entitled, “Diplomacy and International Communication in English,” opened in schools in the 2015-2016 academic year (תשע”ו). This year marks the first graduating class. Therefore, this is an apt time to reflect on the impact of the use of English as the Medium of Instruction and the perspective of Internationalization at home on both the teachers and the students. This presentation introduces the aims of the major, and begins a discussion about its impact. The stated aims of the diplomacy major are:
- To advance communicative competence through integration of the CEFR
- To become familiar with a range of global issues and differing perspectives on them
- To develop cultural sensitivity and intercultural competence
- To promote media and information literacy
English is the Medium of Instruction in this subject because English is the language of diplomacy today and the international language that offers access to multicultural understanding. Through the studies, students build interpersonal communication skills, intercultural and inter-language sensitivity, and negotiation and decision-making skills. These skills will better prepare them for effective participation in communicative situations in the future, whether in academic, occupational, public, or personal contexts.
The major opened at 20 schools in the first year, 40 in the second year, and is now studied at 60 schools and by over 2000 students in its third year. Given the overwhelming interest of teachers, students, parents, and principals, the education system can look forward to the continued growth and impact of this initiative.
Enhancing Oral Proficiency, Confidence, and Fluency Through Online Communication
Klarina Priborkin, Givat Washington College of Education
This paper will discuss the benefits of a telecollaboration project I’ve launched at Givat-Washington College of Education to enhance the motivation and proficiency of our EAP students and future English teachers by exposing them to real-life conversations with the native speakers of English who volunteer with the Canadian non-profit organization “Israel Connect.” The volunteers connect to our students through video conferences once a week and discuss a text from the “Tour of Israel” curriculum which includes short texts about various places in Israel. According to research, students’ natural, real-life exposure and immersion in the target language enhances effective and meaningful learning by increasing proficiency, confidence, and fluency (Kelm, 1996; Oller, 1993; Brammerts 1996; Warschauer 1997). This project also enables our LD and ADHD students, who often have difficulties accessing written texts in English, to express themselves orally and get feedback from a native speaker. From the written feedback and from interviews I have conducted with the students, it is clear that they appreciate the opportunity to engage in a meaningful project that expands their vocabulary and improves fluency and proficiency. Since most volunteers in “Israel Connect” are retired or semi-retired individuals, our students also get experience in connecting with an older generation from a different country, thus expanding their socio-cultural awareness. Finally, as future teachers, our students are exposed to an alternative, hands-on teaching method that actively engages the students by involving them in a meaningful program that contributes to the Jewish communities across the world.