Page 5 - winter 07-08

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TheWoods
5
W
illiam Woods University students are using
technology to teach children on the other
side of the world to speak English.
They have been communicating with Taiwanese
ffth-graders every Monday and Wednesday night (Tuesday and
Thursday morning in Taiwan) via video-conferencing.
Dr. Roger Wen, assistant professor of education and business at WWU, is
giving his educational technology students a valuable, new hands-on
teaching experience. With the help of Brian Kuo, a teacher at Jian Sing
Primary School who earned his master of education degree (M.Ed.)
from WWU in 2008, William Woods formed a new partnership with
the school in southern Taiwan.
According to Wen, the program helps break cultural
and language barriers, while incorporating the
use of new technologies, like internet-based
videoconferencing, to prepare students for any
possible teaching environment.
Each of the 17 WWU students, the majority of whom
are education majors, teaches a lesson. The video is
live, providing them instant audio and visual
feedback.
This is the frst time WWU has participated in this
type of distance learning. Wen said his students
were not familiar with the technology, but the more
they talked about the possibilities, the more excited
they became. “They were hesitant but positive, and
once they did it, they thought it was a benefcial
and fun experience,” he said. Wen is always on
hand to assist with any educational or
technological challenges.
“It’s amazing that you can basically be two places
at once,” said Caitlin Steiner, a senior from New
Bloomfeld, Mo. “I’ve never had the opportunity to
teach in a setting like that. It’s an experience I will
never forget. I felt nervous and excited to be
teaching, but once I got started, their excitement
and enthusiasm rubbed off on me.”
“I really enjoyed the distance learning activity,” Kelley Martin, a
enior from Columbia, Mo., said. “It's cool that I'm teaching English to
children on the other side of the world. Seeing the kids on the screen is
really neat. . .it makes you feel like you’re there, and you can see their
response to how you’re doing in their facial expressions
and body language. I think the kids had fun, and that's
an awesome feeling. I feel like I learned so much!”
As the college students teach English, they are learning
skills that will transfer into any classroom.
“It is important to talk slowly, enunciate your words and
keep their attention focused on you,” said Catherine
Dziadula, a senior from McHenry, Ill.
Jenny Hewitt, a senior from Nichols, Wis., found it
benefcial to call the children up one at a time and ask
them a question and engage them in a conversation.
“This allows them to communicate and use the lan-
guage they are learning,” she said.
Kuo commented, “The William Woods students have
done a wonderful job conducting those lessons. Each
of them gave the students plenty of time to practice
their English. A successful lesson makes students apply
the knowledge they learn, both in the classroom and
in real life. They did just that.”
He also noted that the experience was going well for
his students and that they beneftted by learning English
from a native speaker.
Zheng, Yu-Xuan, one of the ffth-graders, said, “I think
that video conference allows me to learn more English.
It feels like I was talking with the teacher through a
window. I was able to correct my pronunciation by
looking at the shape of the teacher's mouth. It makes
me feel that learning English is easy and fun. I can
hardly wait to go to the next class.”
Another Taiwanese youngster, Huang, Guan-Hua, said,
“It is a great opportunity for us to learn English with real
Americans. Even though it is through video conference,
I feel so much fun in the lessons . . . they use pictures
and songs to help us remember new words.”
Perhaps the comment that pleased William Woods’
students most was from Huang, Xiang-Jin, who said,
“I want to say thank you to all the teachers in the video
conference. They teach us many different English words.
They sometimes make us laugh. I wish you all to live to a
hundred years, stay young and beautiful.”