Strengthening one’s socio-cultural skills in a foreign language through video conferencing
Vásquez Carranza, Luz Marina
Ramírez Casalvolone, Natalia
Fernández Abarca, Marianella
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The use of different technological aids in educational settings such as the video conferencing equipment has increased throughout the last years. This article reports the benefits that a group of twenty-four advanced in-training English as a Foreign Language teaching students at University of Costa Rica (UCR) have gained through their participation in the Global Classroom Project. This project, which was created by University of Nebraska at Lincoln back in 2005, started to be implemented at UCR, Western Site in 2010 and it aims to connect students from several countries synchronously through the use of video conferencing equipment to provide its participants an opportunity to discuss and exchange information on socio-cultural topics by using English as a tool of communication. Qualitative and quantitative techniques were applied to collect the data for the study. The research revealed that although UCR students reported high levels of anxiety during their participation in the project, they felt highly confident and motivated to take part in the project as they felt proud to present about Costa Rican culture to a group of college native-speakers of English. In terms of learning of vocabulary, the study revealed new words which students argue helped them to better understand the topics under study. Yet, the greatest benefit was the socio-cultural knowledge gained by the participants as they could confront the stereotypical views of the foreign language culture portrayed on mass media and redefine their views and perceptions based on the information provided by UNL students. Our hope is that as future EFL teachers, participating students from UCR will reproduce this way of learning socio-cultural aspects by using the English language as a vehicle of communication.Este artículo reporta los beneficios que un grupo de veinticuatro estudiantes avanzados de enseñanza del Inglés como Lengua Extranjera obtuvieron mediante su participación en el Proyecto Aula Global4, creado por la Universidad de Nebraska Lincoln, y el cual conecta sincrónicamente estudiantes de distintos países usando video conferencias. Técnicas cualitativas y cuantitativas se emplearon para recolectar la información. El conocimiento socio cultural obtenido por los participantes fue el mayor beneficio obtenido ya que se pudo confrontar las percepciones estereotípicas de la cultura del idioma extranjero presentadas en medios de comunicación masiva y redefinirlas basándose en la información proporcionada por los estudiantes internacionales.