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1 eTwinning Conference: Intercultural learning opportunities Intercultural learning opportunities Petru Dumitru Project coordinator and Web editor European Schoolnet, Brussels and a group of teacher guests [email protected]

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eTwinning Conference 2008

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Page 1: Intercultural Dialogue: Petru Dumitru

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eTwinning Conference: Intercultural learning opportunities

Intercultural learning opportunities

Petru DumitruProject coordinator and Web editor

European Schoolnet, Brussels

and a group of teacher guests

[email protected]

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eTwinning Conference: Intercultural learning opportunities

Workshop structure

1. Introduction

2. Theoretical background

3. Intercultural learning activities in schools

4. Intercultural learning opportunities offered by European Schoolnet

5. Questionnaire for participants

6. Message to teachers

7. Just for fun

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eTwinning Conference: Intercultural learning opportunities

1. Introduction

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eTwinning Conference: Intercultural learning opportunities

2. Theoretical background

• Culture: a set of attitudes, beliefs, behavioural norms, basic assumptions and values that are shared by a group of people (A way of life)

• Intercultural communication: occurs when people from different cultures interact

• Intercultural learning: entails communicating cultures and learning about one’s own culture and other cultures.

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Factors affecting intercultural communication

• Perception: the ability of any individual to gather information, assess it and understand it. Perceptions vary from a culture to another

• Cultural values: a set of norms which characterises a culture

• Social organisation: family (the smallest unit of social organisation) and society

• Language• Non-verbal cues: communication patterns in the

form of gestures, facial expression, eye contact, movement, using time and space.

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Barriers to intercultural communication

• Anxiety or stress• Assuming similarities instead of differences• Ethnocentrism: a negative approach of judging

attributes of other cultures by relating them to the own cultural norms

• Stereotypes and prejudices• Nonverbal misinterpretations• Language differences

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Face-to-face vs. computer-mediated communication

• ICCMC reduces human interaction to words (is faceless, lacking nonverbal cues)

• ICMC allows authorship modification: (cutting and reposting someone’s message is common in an online context)

• “Plastic identity” (changeable identity) of the online users may conflict with the communication norms in certain cultures

• Use of humour (attitudes, habits and beliefs characterising an individual or groups of individuals) may generate misunderstanding when partners from other cultures perceive things differently

• People who use a second/third language to communicate may have a different level of understanding of irony, sarcasm and cynicism

• Silence may be perceived differently by individuals representing different cultures; people who seem more silent or passive could be seen as “less important” versus active participants.

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3. Intercultural learning activities in schools

To ensure successful intercultural communication activities:• A common language or a common communication system;• Information about other cultures• Putting the own culture in the context of the world cultures;• Eliminating prejudices and accepting cultural diversity: avoiding

classifying world cultures in two categories: major and minor• Ability to empathise: putting oneself in someone else’s shoes to

minimise negative emotions and feel what the others feel (emotions play a crucial role in communication)

• Communicative attitude of the partners• Achieving balanced interaction: leaving out any tendency of

victimisation or paternalism.

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eTwinning Conference: Intercultural learning opportunities

Benefits in school projectsKnowledge level• Raising intercultural awareness• Putting one’s own culture in a wider context• Providing opportunities for intercultural learning in a real context• Opportunity to exchange ideas.Skills level• Acquiring/improving ICT skills• Providing a real communication context with people from other

cultures• Practicing communication in a second language, in a real life context• Learning to work collaboratively at a global scale• Experiencing teaching and learning across the curriculum• Developing critical thinking• Increasing students’ motivation to learn.

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Limitations in school projectsIn school projects, intercultural computer-mediated communication

may be limited by a number of factors:

• Curriculum and time constraints• Lacking knowledge of a second language or poor and inadequate language

skills• Lack of face-to-face cues• Lack of equipment, unreliable or unavailable Internet connection and

technical difficulties at school• Integrating a project into the curriculum/or matching two or more different

curricula• Lack of basic computer skills• Different school calendars• Cultural differences and differences in cultural expectations• Technological differences

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4. Intercultural learning opportunities at European Schoolnet

• Spring Day for Europe Overview: Petru Dumitru• Spring Day for Europe in schools: Peter Rasmussen, Denmark• myEUROPE, 8000 schools working on European citizenship and

intercultural activities: Marleen Spierings. The Netherlands• 50 Years Together in Diversity: Stamatios Papadakis, Greece• Energy education in a multi-cultural context: Ylva Guntsch-Malmhav,

Sweden• FuturEnergia, the voice of young people in Europe to respond to climate

change: Lidia Minza, Romania• Learning objects, a modern methods to experience other cultures from an

early age: Andreea Silter, Romania• Collaborative projects, a successful path to cultural understanding;

Viljenka Savli, Slovenia• Online chats or language learning in a real intercultural context; Petru

Dumitru

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Chats

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eTwinning Conference: Intercultural learning opportunities

Chats

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5. QuestionnaireIn the context of intercultural activities involving

classes from different cultures and based on your experience, please list:

• three benefits resulting from intercultural learning activities

• three limitations to intercultural learning activities• three solutions that help overcome barriers to

intercultural learning activitiesIn your view, what is the most relevant element that

has to be considered to achieve understanding in intercultural learning activities?

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6. Message to teachersThere are no forms of technology that can revolutionise the

classroom while bypassing the teacher. If there is a change, it will be in the way teachers and students create the context of a classroom and the interaction that takes place among and between the people who make up the life of a classroom.

Teachers should see networks as an opportunity to learn more about teaching and learning by finding out how it is supported and directed in different countries. I would suggest they see themselves as modelling learning.

Margaret Riel, 2005