Part of learning a foreign language includes experiencing what lies behind the grammar structures, the vocabulary and the assumptions that text books and cultural products such as films tend to produce. Acquiring a new language also means enriching our sense of belonging in this world; developing a more open-minded attitude towards differences; and being more willing to interact unfamiliar paths. Moreover, it is important that students interact with people other than their peers and their teachers, in order for them to use language purposefully, to embrace their achievements and to allow themselves to be positively influenced by the experiences of the people they interact with.
While Skype Conferences are not foreign practices in my classes, recently I have created scenarios where students interact with experts on various areas of knowledge in order for them to feel empowered to take new initiatives, and to feel motivated to take part in different causes, or even better, to initiate a new movement.
Today’s session on Social Responsibility, which included the change in our regard for animals and their right to have a proper life, provoked very interesting thoughts on students who were particularly surprised by the fact they the person they were talking to was no PETA activist, but someone who worked in the world of ITC and management. MYP students were pleased to see that despite one’s position and duties, being an active contributor to generous causes is something that can be done if one truly sets one’s mind to it.
As a follow up to this session, students will prepare podcasts in which they will surely display the inquiry lines they took further and their enriched views on this topic.
Voices from distant realities can certainly help students develop a deeper understanding of places and causes that might basically appear too foreign or irrelevant for them, at times.