So I have literally taken my work home with me this evening. Antonella (my special lady friend) is teaching two Italian courses at UMW this semester, and we have been sparring about the whole UMW Blogs thing and how it fits into language learning. Finally, we sat down this evening for about an hour or so and played around with some ideas. Tomorrow she is teaching a lesson for her intermediate Italian class that deals with the history of the Vespa. We figured that would be a good one to start with and (as I find myself doing all the time these days) I searched for the keyword Vespa on YouTube —D-I-S-C-O! We found a wealth of stuff in Italian about the Vespa, almost too much to sort through. She decided upon a number of commercials from back in the day as well a brief television program in Italian chronicling the history of the Vespa. So we have these great resources to help re-enforce learning Italian in a manner that provides a welcome alternative to the terrible videos that come packaged with the often terrible textbooks -but how do we publish them freely and openly for the class to share, interact with, and even help build upon such resources? Hmm, I do not know….
That’s not true, I know all too well! The publishing platform we turned to is called WordPress, and I think this little number can pull together an unbelievable amount of online resources available to the language learner seamlessly with sites like YouTube, Internet Archive, Flickr, etc. More importantly, many folks have been saying it on the tubes as of late, isn’t it high time we started thinking beyond the textbook? -even if we aren’t quite ready to abandon it all together just yet. Why make the publishers rich with their pro forma and often cheesy content (particularly in regards to language learning) when you can frame out a dynamic environment online that both you and your students build together over the course of the semester. With the access to media we have at our fingertips currently, immersing students in another language and/or culture has never been easier, why depend on the outmoded delivery system of the text book and accompanying unbearable video? For a glimpse of the very beginings of the Italian Futurist textbook, see Antonella’s styling Italia 201 class blogsite to taste the alternative. Che buono!