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Reflective, Experiential and Vertically Integrated Learning in An Accelerated Elementary Language Course (Della Chambless, Duke University, United States)

9:30 AM, Friday 30 Apr 2021 EDT (30 minutes)
  Virtual session
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Della Chambless, Duke University, United States

Title: Reflective, Experiential and Vertically Integrated Learning in An Accelerated Elementary Language Course.

Keywords: experiential learning; learning portfolios; vertically integrated learning


The accelerated Italian course at the presenter’s university covers a 2-course sequence of Elementary Italian in the same number of contact hours as each course in isolation. On account of the faster pace, the tendency has been to simplify the structure and demands of the course compared to the regular-paced ones, eliminating elements of experiential learning and regular reflections on learning vis à vis course and individual learning goals.

The current course re-design challenges the logic above and seeks to weave both elements into practice on the basis of the following premises.

• Students enrolling in the course often have a background in foreign language and are highly motivated. They are well equipped to study grammar and vocabulary independently, thus using class contact hours to apply their knowledge to real life situations outside of the classroom. These same learner characteristics – motivation level and greater than average meta awareness - should also facilitate the reflections on learning which most courses in our program currently require.

• Benefits can be reaped from vertical integration across multiple levels of language study. This course is ideal for a pilot project as it spans content of two levels, which increases the accessibility of contact with other language classes. Furthermore, the small class size facilitates activities involving the combination of two different classes.

In the course of the semester, students leave the classroom regularly on Thursdays for an activity based on a thematic unit in the textbook, lasting from 20 to 30 minutes. They return to the classroom afterwards and spend the remainder of the time consolidating their material and preparing a presentation to share with their classmates.

Students develop e-portfolios in which they chronicle their experiences with a multifarious set of learning artifacts coupled with reflections on learning including the collaborative aspects of the process.

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