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L. Negrini, L. Botturi

University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Southern Switzerland (SWITZERLAND)
Can language learning (LL) and digital technologies pair up for the development of an engaging and effective learning experience? LL is a key topic in the public education discourse in Switzerland, a country with 4 national languages and where English is also emphasized as a key job-finding skill. The very multilingual character of the nation is indeed the resource that the AlpConnectar project taps on: the idea is using digital technologies to connect primary school classes from different linguistic areas with each other, so that each class can learn a second language with native-speakers peers in another Canton. The project, currently in its third implementation year, exploits simple cloud and videoconferencing systems with data protection, bringing tablets and interactive boards in the classroom. The use of those technologies permits to learn a second language in an authentic situation that improves the learning motivation and language skills of the pupils.

Though focused on LL, AlpConnectar pursuits other two objectives:
(1) to provide an effective environment for offering digital literacy education, from the development of digital skills (use of tablets, audio and video recording, picture taking and sharing, etc.) to goal-oriented use of digital media, as opposed to entertainment use; and
(2) to favour interculturality and national cohesion connecting students from different language regions.

The presentation outlines the project design and the experiences gathered in three years of experimentation. We will present the results collected through 2 quantitative and qualitative surveys with teachers and pupils of the 7 classes active in school-year 2015/16. The data show that teachers and students appreciate teaching and learning a second language in this way. Teachers assert that students are more motivated to learn and less inhibited to speak a foreign language. Furthermore, the data show an improvement of the language competences of the students and increased intercultural sensitivity. There are however some differences in the reported results depending on the classes and their linguistic region.

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[5] Negrini L., Botturi, L., Trezzini, M., Flepp L. & Steiner, E. (2016). AlpConnectar: Imparare le lingue con le tecnologie attraverso le alpi. Presentation at SSRE 2016 - Where does school stop? Transformations and shifts of educational boundaries, Lausanne, Switzerland (29 June, 1 July, 2016).
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