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What is the Language Learning and Travel Network?

Step 1: Create your own Material (Online – world wide network).
Step 2: Share your Material (Face-to-Face – local network).
Step 3: Travel and Experience the Language and Culture (Travelling – world wide network).

For a visual presentation (ppt) click here. In html: here. In QuickTime: (here)

And please read on here:

The network provides the language learning community with a method that combines online learning, face-to-face learning and, eventually, the opportunity for encounters in the countries where the target language is spoken, making for real communication and cultural exchange. Members are language learners of all levels, beginners and professionals, multimedia experts and aficionados, business people, educators, travellers and people interested sharing their cultural experiences and knowledge.

Our system emphasizes learner input, participation and collaboration. Learners create their own learning materials, aided in this effort by fellow learners of other languages, that is, by native speakers of the target language located anywhere in the world or in their own city. Through a wiki system (like that of Wikipedia), the texts learners create are broken down and linked to a user-created vocabulary and grammar database. Standard exercises are also created for those original texts, and audio files of these texts are produced by other participating members (again, located anywhere in the world) for incorporation into the lesson layout. In the second phase, once the learners have become “experts” in their respective lessons, they present this material to fellow network members learning the same target language in their city or town, consolidating the subject matter learned through face-to-face peer-to-peer “teaching” as opposed to exclusively online or passive, one-directional computer-based systems.

Step 1
Imagine you want to learn Spanish. You are a beginner? No problem. You write a dialog that you feel could be useful to your purposes, e.g., a conversation in a restaurant, at the hotel reception, at a bank, etc. You post the dialog you have created on the online work area. Promptly a network member, in this case a native Spanish speaker, will translate your dialog into Spanish for you to see online. Naturally you can recognize much more easily the elements of that dialog because you created them in the first place. You then select the main vocabulary items and create a list on which other network members work, expanding upon them with sample sentences, comments and references. At the same time, other members make and submit the audio files of the dialog, which the system embeds into the page layout so that with the click of a button you can hear the text spoken sentence by sentence. You can add photos to enhance the overall visual appearance and functionality of your lesson. For example, you take a photo of yourself in a restaurant speaking with the waiter. The main grammar points of the text you have created are identified and elaborated upon by fellow network members, and exercises are created (according to a series of standard formats) to help you practice and consolidate your knowledge. For example, if the text you have created contains the sentence “Could you bring the wine list?”, an indication by your “teachers” online would prompt you to search in paragraphs 230-235 or the grammar database, and your “homework” would be to identify exactly where in the grammar database the use of “could...” is explained as a form of “can” for expressing a polite request. In this case, for example, you would cite paragraph 234b, where you found the explanation of that grammatical point and several sample sentences.

Step 2
Once you are familiar with the content of the lesson you have created, you meet with fellow members in your own city who have created their own lessons for the same target language. Each learner becomes as it were the “teacher” of that lesson for the other members. You teach them, they teach you. You meet in collaborating institutions (schools, cultural centers, etc.) or in the meeting rooms of collaborating businesses. This process of mutual presentation of learning materials will consolidate your understanding and mastery of the subject matter. In addition, you will be exposed to the material of others and will be able to review it online after this face-to-face encounter. Of course, a monitor or “expert” in the target language will accompany these presentations.

Step 3
In the end, we learn a language to use it, so eventually you will travel to a Spanish-speaking country and visit fellow network members in that country who want to learn your language. You will help them by attending and supervising their face-to-face sessions (in this case with English as a target language) and after that session you will participate in social activities with them (an excellent opportunity for you to practice your Spanish) and they will help you with orientation within the city or any other needs you may have.

When will this network be made available?

We need to gain a critical mass of interest, voluntary participation and financial support in order to begin. We expect to receive a grant to support our start-up phase, but you are encouraged to express your interest immediately by contacting me. Who am I? Ignacio Duran. I have been involved in language learning and teaching all my life. Here is some info on my professional and educational background: iduran?

How can I participate?

We need people with skills in the following areas: Business Administration, Marketing, Web and Graphic Design, General IT Issues (programming, networks), and Linguistics. Please contact me now so we can begin our collaboration!