CALICO Journal, Vol 29, No 2 (2012)

Wikis for Building Content Knowledge in the Foreign Language Classroom

Stéphanie H. Pellet
Issued Date: 7 Aug 2014

Abstract


Most pedagogical applications of wikis in foreign language education draw on this collaborative tool to improve (formal) writing skills or to develop target language cultural sensitivity, missing largely on the opportunity to support student-developed L2 content knowledge. Seeking an alternative to traditional teacher-centered approaches, this paper proposes a social-constructivist model which integrates computer-mediated communication (CMC) and collaborative learning to teach two advanced undergraduate L2 content-based courses—French sociolinguistics and modern French. It reports on the processes and learning outcomes for thirty students who build a wiki among other collaborative and active-learning exercises to develop content knowledge in French. This approach provides an authentic and meaningful language learning setting and integrates technology-assisted collaborative learning in syllabus design from the outset. Post-course evaluations indicate that students developed a sense of class community through the collaborative approach and felt engaged with course content. This exploratory, qualitative project also provides insight on the importance of continuous critical instructor feedback for optimal quality of student output and of a system encouraging and controlling equal participation of students. The study suggests that the read-and-write internet offers a unique medium for constructive learning approaches which together can help students develop learner autonomy and metacognitive skills.

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DOI: 10.11139/cj.29.2.224-248

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