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Voice-activated learning

In our case study this week, I have been trying to find articles and information about how language can affect the usage of technology in learning. We come to a course like this knowing that the content will be in English, but how does that relate to those of us that may have another language as our first language? I can only speak English, and the course is challenging enough. But if I were to be studying in a language that was not my first language, I’m sure it would be more of a challenge. I have met some wonderful people here in the program who are doing just that.

Since adult learning is social learning, the way that we can connect with each other, support each other, and learn from each other is very important. We must endeavour to continue to support each other online, particularly when rules such as APA writing style are hard enough in English. I liked the joke that the APA style was invented by psychologists in order to drum up business! Of online students in Australia from a study performed by John Hannon (2007), “half (50.2 percent) did not have good communication with students from other cultural backgrounds”. We must carry on supporting each other, and trying not to lose anything in the translation. I’m looking forward to it.

I will leave you with a short video about the challenges faced when using technology in other cultures.

John Hannon, B. D. (2007). Cultural diversity online: Student engagement with learning technologies. International Journal of Educational Management, 21(5), 418-432. doi: 10.1108/09513540710760192

4 thoughts on “Voice-activated learning”

  1. Great video, my daughter is in the french immersion program at her school but she never speaks french at home. t seems like it is not a place where she is comfortable speaking the language, even with her friends. She is pretty fluent as they speak it every minute of the day when she is in school. She recently took Spanish as an option and did well in that too. Lisa mentioned the benefits to your learning when you learn new languages, I am not seeing that yet with APA.

  2. Hello Ken,
    I enjoyed your post and the video. I agree with you that language barriers can make it hard to build and foster relationships especially in an online forum. As we explored yesterday with our own in-class video, different perceptions, cultures, as well as language understanding can also influence how the message is interpreted. In addition, when we factor in trying to understand the message without any social cues such as, body language, eye contact, and worse sarcasm, you can easily see how anyone (ESL or not) can be intimidated by online forums.
    This is why we are very fortunate to be able to have this time face to face, which has allowed us to get to know each member of the cohort. What will be interesting to see, in the next while, is if or how the dynamics change when we return to our daily lives and speak only in an online format.


    My wife corrects me all the time: my accent, pronunciation, diction, grammar, vocabulary, butchered expressions, and most importantly, on my non-idiomatic usage of the language. And I welcome her corrections because I am genuinely interested in improving my communication skills in my strongest second language. Susan is a native English speaker who was born to first generation Portuguese immigrants, and as such grew up in a bilingual, bicultural, world, and can relate my relatively mild struggle to that of her parents. I know I will always have a distinct foreign, non-native, accent. For me, and for many other speakers of English as a second language, reading is the easiest skill to acquire. My biggest challenges are listening and speaking. Once in a while I utter a word or phrase with which I am very familiar through reading but have never before said out loud: more often than not my interlocutor asks me to repeat what I just said. My first reaction is to try to self-correct and say it again as best I can, and if it doesn’t work I try to paraphrase. As last resource, I spell it out. Communicating this way is slow and can be very frustrating for both parties. Often, the native speaker is apologetic about having to ask for repetition, and becomes understandingly frustrated. It is not unusual to end the conversation at this point. It takes a certain level of intimacy to move beyond unnecessary politeness and political correctness to a commitment to patiently overcome the language barriers for the sake of genuine interest in the conversation. One of my friends teases me about my “Mexican” accent when he doesn’t understand what I say. I have no problem spelling it out and take no offence. Furthermore, I joke about my own accent.

    You got me going on this one, Ken. I have much to say about the topic, but I’ll keep the rest for the next time we have beer together. As for how my language skills are going to impact (lol) my performance on the program, I know I will struggle less with reading textbooks than writing limericks.


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