Innovation in Language Learning

Edition 16

Accepted Abstracts

Language Learning and Community Engagement: Synergies between Research, Learning and Sharing of Resources

Monika Jezak, University of Ottawa (Canada)

Laura Ambrosio, University of Ottawa (Canada)


Our communication will focus on an innovative language training program offered at the University of Ottawa, Canada: Community Service Learning. This program stems from a theoretical framework based on the principles of experiential learning (ex. Kolb, 1984), as well as the action-oriented approach to language teaching (teaching focused on meaning, authentic tasks) (ex. Elis, 2003). It offers courses that, in addition to traditional second-language instruction, include a 30-hour community-based experience, entirely in the learner's second language, as well as a reflective component (in the form of logbook or portfolio) aimed at empowering and fostering students' critical thinking. In this paper, we will present the conceptual underpinnings (such as Kolb’s and Elis theories) and principles of this program (such as selection of community partners and integration of the reflexive component into the course). We will report as well on the results of a student satisfaction survey that shows a positive impact of learning through community engagement, not only for the development of second language skills, but also, for the construction of greater social cohesion through the integration of communication networks in real life contexts.

Keywords: Second language learning, higher education, experiential learning.

[1] Elis, R. (2003). Task-based Language Learning and Teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
[2] Kolb, D. (1984). Experiential Learning as the Science of Learning and Development, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

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