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Using Digital Technology to Teach Language and Cuisine

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Paul SeedhouseORCiD, Dr Anne Preston


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The use of Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) approaches applied to ICT in Modern Foreign Language teaching is considered by teachers and researchers alike as providing language learners with a wealth of resources for authentic language use and as a way of integrating reading, writing, listening speaking skills (Davies, 2005; 2011). These approaches are also said to increase motivation and confidence, encourage learners to develop a range of learning strategies and become more independent learners. A major question arising out of research and practice in recent years however, is whether ICT can have a real impact on language learning. For example, at the same time as ICT approaches in teaching and learning are expanding, the number of students choosing to study a foreign language beyond compulsory learning has decreased significantly. Moreover, in the longer term, Europe faces specific challenges concerning how to increase foreign language proficiency and the contribution of language skills to the EU economy (European Commission, 2008). This paper reports on the developments of a European wide project into the use of digital technology for language learning in English, French, German, Spanish, Catalan, Italian and Finnish. The project builds on the success of a previous study which combined language learning with cooking. Many adult learners are motivated to learn European languages through their interest in foreign cuisine and culture, and this project taps into this motivation. We previously constructed a purpose built kitchen which speaks to users in French and step-bystep instructions on how to prepare French cuisine and teaches aspects of French language. Embedded digital sensors are inserted in or attached to all the equipment and ingredients allowing the kitchen to detect and evaluate activity as users progress through their cooking tasks. As the kitchen is able to detect what users are doing, it can provide feedback such as a reminder or more details about a certain cooking action. Users are also able to communicate with the kitchen, using an interactive screen where they can request audio and textual help along the way. Users are thus able to learn aspects of the language of the kitchen whilst performing a meaningful real-world task and will simultaneously experience the cultural aspect of learning to cook a foreign dish. The aims of the current European project are to prepare new materials for the digital kitchens in order to be able to employ the digital technology for seven EU languages and cuisines. We will be working with 5 partner institutions across Europe to achieve our main practical objective to construct and trial kitchens that communicate with learners in 7 languages, instruct them in how to cook a typical dish of that country, and evaluate their task performance. Each University will be responsible for developing and trialling the materials for use in their kitchen in relation to one language and one cuisine. This will involve designing the tasks, trialling the materials with participants and improving the design based on the trials. The materials will be developed using a Task-Based Learning (TBL) approach (Skehan, 1998, 2003). 243 TBL seeks to develop learners‖ language through providing a task and then using language to solve it. Each task will aim to teach specific vocabulary and structures. The trials will be audio and video recorded, the data from which will be transcribed and analysed using a Conversation Analysis (CA) approach. CA is a multi-disciplinary methodology for analysing talk in a very wide range of professional and academic areas (Richards and Seedhouse, 2004). CA is also a holistic methodology and provides a way for moment –to-moment verbal and nonverbal activity in the tasks to be integrated. Our analytical questions will focus on: What kind of interaction is generated by using the kitchen and following the task? and Which aspects of language or cooking are learnt by the participants? The collaboration is expected to lead to the creation of learning materials for the 5 major languages in the EU plus Finnish and Catalan. These materials will be shared across partners so that by the end of the project, there will be 7 functioning kitchens across Europe which are able to cover 7 languages and cuisines. Our presentation provides an overview of the pedagogical and technical design of the kitchen and how the partner institutions will work collaboratively to develop ICT-based learning materials. References  Davies G., (2011). ICT4LT Homepage. In Davies G. (ed.) Information and Communications Technology for Language Teachers (ICT4LT), Slough, Thames Valley University [Online]. Available at:  Davies, G. D. (2005) Computer Assisted Language Learning: where are we now and where are we going? [online] Available at:  Drew, P. & Heritage, J. eds. (1992). Talk at Work: Interaction in Institutional Settings. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.  European Communities, (2008). Languages mean Business Companies work better with languages Recommendations from the Business Forum for Multilingualism established by the European Commission. Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities.  González-Lloret, M., (2003). Designing Task-based CALL to Promote Interaction. Language Learning Technology, 7(1), pp. 86-104.  Richards, K. and Seedhouse, P. eds., 2004. Applying Conversation Analysis. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.  Seedhouse, P. and Almutairi, S. A., (2009). Holistic Approach to task-based Interaction. International Journal of Applied Linguistics, 19 (3), pp.311-338.  Skehan, P., (1998). Task-based instruction. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 18, pp. 268- 286.  Skehan, P. (2003). Task-based instruction. Language Teaching, 36, pp. 1–14.  Smith, B. (2009). Task-based learning in the computer mediated communicative ESL/EFL classroom. CALL-EJ Online, 11. pp.1-24.  Thomas, P.J. ed., (1995).The Social and Interactional Dimensions of Human-Computer Interfaces, Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Seedhouse P, Preston A

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Published

Conference Name: III European Conference on Information Technology in Education and Society: A Critical Insight (TIES)

Year of Conference: 2012

Pages: 242-243

Publisher: Esbrina, Universitat de Barcelona

Library holdings: Search Newcastle University Library for this item

ISBN: 9788461577347