Innovation in Language Learning

Edition 17

Accepted Abstracts

Graduate and International Students Explore Language and Identity within a Win-Win Learning Partnership

Anca Mihaela Dobrinescu, Petroleum-Gas University of Ploiești (Romania)

Ligia Sarivan, Institute for Educational Sciences (Romania)


Our paper documents three years of learning partnerships that involve two groups of participants: 1) international students enrolled in the preparatory year and 2) language graduate students enrolled in an Intercultural Studies Master program at the University of Ploiesti. The first have an overall objective of obtaining the B2 level in Romanian for the certification exam allowing admission for any academic program in Romania; the second are to explore identity and otherness while developing a cultural project focused on supporting the international students’ language acquisition and integration in their new community. For both groups there is an opportunity to meet learning needs in meaningful contexts and to offer support to one another in order to attain their respective academic goals. The design of this approach originates in identifying solutions to the various learning problems of the two groups, namely the cultural shock and the effort to build the progression from scratch to B2 in only two terms of intensive study (group 1) and the overcoming of cultural stereotypes beyond the knowledge sanctioned in the classic exams (group 2). The project-based design relies on team teaching and the community of practice among faculty members who work with the two groups and who jointly organize learning situations as part of the academic curriculum and in outdoors and extracurricular activities. On the other hand, the graduate students in group 2 are invited to further extend their autonomy as they connect via social media to discuss, plan and develop their project and make decisions about teaming with international students in group 1. After three years of monitoring, the results of the learning partnership are constantly win-win: 80% of the international students pass their exams; the language graduates develop good projects and are very satisfied with the outcomes; last but not least real friendships develop among the two groups and more innovative faculty members revise their methodology.

Keywords: contextualized language acquisition, cultural dialogue, student-centered approach, learning partnership.

[1] Dobrinescu, A. (2014) Travelling across Cultures, Ploiești: Editura Universității Petrol-Gaze din Ploiești
[2] Gardner, H. (2006) Five Minds for the Future, Boston: Harvard Business School Press
[3] Gardner, H., Davis, K. (2014) The App Generation. How Today’s Youth Navigate Identity, Intimacy, and Imagination in a Digital World, New Haven and London: Yale University Press
[4] Hall, S., Du Gay, P.  (ed.) (1996) Questions of Cultural Identity, London, Thousand Oaks, New Delhi: Sage Publications
[5] Sarivan, L. (2012) “Cultural Stereotypes in a Constructivist Approach: Language Graduates Use ICT to Understand Their Cliches” in Pixel (ed.)  Conference Proceedings. ICT for Language Learning, Padova: Edizioni, pp. 141-146
[6] Wenger, E. (1998) Communities of Practice. Learning, Meaning and Identity, Cambridge University Press.

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