Global English Corner: Using Elluminate to Enhance International Students’ English Language Skills

By Carolyn Woodley, Lisa Curran and Elisa Szabo.

Published by The Learner Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Students at Victoria University (VU) in Melbourne, Australia, undertake their study in an English language context and they have a range of support options to assist with English language development. VU has partner universities in China (Sichuan University, Henan University and Liaoning University). VU’s programs in China often have fewer language support options than programs in Melbourne. The Australian Government’s Transnational Quality Strategy requires that educational programs on- and offshore provide students with a comparable learning experience. Given the relative lack of English speaking opportunities available to VU’s students in China, the university is exploring how technologies might achieve a greater comparability of the student experience.
This paper reports on a pilot program that uses Elluminate to conduct English conversations between students in China and Australia. The perceived lack of English competence of international students has been an ongoing issue in Australian higher education while the ‘English corner’ is ‘a characteristically Chinese approach to informal practice’ (Jin & Cortazzi, 2002) that helps students learning English in a foreign context to develop their English language proficiency. How might the idea of ‘English corner’ be used with educational technologies to encourage international students to practise and develop their English?
This paper discusses a pilot program at VU that combines the idea of the English Corner together with the online conferencing tool Elluminate and a blog developed in WordPress, to engage Chinese students offshore in English language conversations. Through Elluminate and the Global English Corner blog, a pair of student peers in Melbourne conducts semi-structured conversations with groups of students offshore. In Elluminate, students can both hear and see each other – and they can simultaneously txt chat, share documents, images and websites and use the collaborative whiteboard function of Elluminate – to have dynamic conversations in real time.
Preliminary findings of this pilot that uses technology to emphasise the societal aspects of learning – including language learning – will be presented. The discussion will consider how a more widespread English Corner program could aid the transition of international students in Australia, encourage the interaction of local students and international students, increase opportunities for international students to practise English and achieve a greater comparability of language support options on- and offshore.

Keywords: International Students, eLearning, English Language, Elluminate, Blogs, Comparability

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 18, Issue 5, pp.195-206. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 754.120KB).

Dr Carolyn Woodley

Senior Lecturer, Centre for Work Integrated Learning and Teaching, Faculty of Business and Law, Victoria University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Dr. Carolyn Woodley is an Educational Developer in the Centre for Work Integrated Learning and Teaching in the Faculty of Business and Law, Victoria University. Her research interests include the use of ICT, internationalising the curriculum, transnational quality and teaching and learning more broadly.

Lisa Curran

Web-Based Project Officer, Office of the Executive Dean, Victoria University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Lisa Curran supports the uptake and evaluation of elearning in the Faculty of Business and Law. Lisa works with colleages both in Melbourne and offshore to develop innovative, creative and student-centred learning activities and courses that are supported by appropriate technologies. She is involved in many of the learning initiatives in the faculty.

Elisa Szabo

Lecturer, Business College, Sichuan University, Chengdu, Sichuan, China

Elisa Szabo is a tutor in business programs at Diploma and Masters level at Sichuan University in Chengdu, China. Elisa teaches in a number of partnership programs between several international universities including the University of New South Wales, Victoria University and Glasgow Unversity. Elisa has taught in China for more than 10 years and has collaborated with Victoria University to enhance learning for students through creative curriculum supported by technology.

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