Page 5 - winter08-09

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Winter 2009
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
video conferencing, 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.
“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 senior 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 to ask
a question and engage them in a conversation. “This
allows them to communicate and use the language
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.”