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Preparing Modern Languages Students for 'Difference'

Going beyond Graduate Skills


Ruth Whittle and Sandra Salin

This book informs and encourages aspiring lecturers and teaching staff in Modern Languages who prepare students for using their language skills in and out of the classroom. Drawing on pedagogical, psychological and language-specific concepts of learning, the book illustrates how such concepts can enhance students’ experience of transitioning from school to university to residence abroad, and beyond.

A key feature of the study is an investigation of students’ fragility as they transition from school to university and, only two years later, from their home institution to their placements abroad. Interventions intended to «teach» transition are shown to be unsuccessful, as the learning through such interventions tends to remain superficial. First-year students are shown to benefit from trust-building between students and teachers and early networking among their peers to build self-confidence. In contrast, prior to studying abroad students benefit more from intercultural awareness training, including linguistic, cultural, social, academic and/or emotional aspects.

The book serves as a useful basis for discussion in Modern Languages departments about curriculum change and university policy with regard to resourcing the Humanities.

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7. Conclusions and Outlook (Ruth Whittle)


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7  Conclusions and Outlook

Following several years of carrying out research, developing materials and trialling them, it is legitimate to ask whether the respective projects which led to these developments were successful. In order to evaluate success or otherwise, it is necessary to investigate the extent to which key deliverables were achieved and whether the anticipated benefits for the student experience were in fact obtained.

The pedagogical dimensions of how to develop and introduce a blog facility for task-based, guided blogging and learning diaries are now much clearer. This is also true with respect to the way in which interventions intended to augment student learning but which are not compulsory, embed with students. In addition, rather than just investigating the student dimension, the projects had to engage equally with the other critical dimension, the stakeholders, and much was learned about how to work together and play to each other’s strengths as a consequence. On the way, more stakeholders joined the projects and the resulting increase in expertise as well as dissemination, particularly in the case of French Better Living, has undoubtedly been valuable.

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