A community service learning experience with university language students in Argentina

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Submission Summary

In this session we will describe a service-learning experience carried out by volunteer university students. The teaching of languages in higher education should contribute to the integral development of students and democratic societies. The theoretical framework, the service learning experience itself and the findings will be presented.

Submission ID :
AILA2534
Submission Type
Abstract :

In this session we will describe a service-learning experience carried out by volunteer university students during 2016-2017. The main theoretical principle underlying this project is the idea that the teaching of languages in higher education should contribute to the integral development of students and to the development of democratic societies (Budd, 2013; Byram, Golubeva, Han & Wagner, 2017) by fostering democratic values and competences (Barnett, 2011; Council of Europe, 2018) and also by encouraging learners to take social or civic action beyond the classroom (Byram, 2014; Byram, Golubeva, Han & Wagner, 2017). In this case, the link between language learning in higher education and the community occurred as volunteer students from two national universities in Argentina planned, designed and carried out workshops on multicultural literature for the children in a rural school in Patagonia and in two local non-governmental organizations (NGO) on the outskirts of La Plata. About 15 volunteer students worked collaboratively with their university teachers, the school teachers and the NGOs’ participants to provide a first contact with English to children who had not had the opportunity of learning the language in their formal education. The project was planned as a service learning experience but also as a case study. Documentary data was gathered through reflection logs, teacher field notes, workshop outcomes (photographs and video-recordings of the workshops). Using content analysis (Mertens, 2015), our study shows that volunteer students (future tour guides in Patagonia and future teachers of English in La Plata) developed their competences for democratic culture (Council of Europe, 2018) and that the children involved experienced English as a bridge for intercultural encounters in their local settings. In the talk we will present the theoretical framework and the service learning experience and we will also report the findings illustrated with multiple examples from varied data types.

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AILA Solidarity Awardee
,
Facultad de Lenguas, Universidad Nacional del Comahue
Universidad Nacional de La Plata
Professor
,
Universidad Nacional del Comahue

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