Distance Learning - Foreign Langauge

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What is Video Conferencing?

Video conferencing is a communications technology that integrates video and audio to connect users anywhere in the world as if they were in the same room. This term usually refers to communication between three or more users who are in at least two locations, rather than one-on-one communication, and it often includes multiple people at each location. Each user or group of users who are participating in a
video conference typically must have a computer, a camera, a microphone, a video screen and a sound system. Another requirement is a connection to the communications system that is being used, which in the 21st century usually is the Internet but might also be a satellite-based system, a broadcast signal or other communications technology. When using video conferencing, participants can see and hear each other in real time or close to it, allowing natural face-to-face conversations and visual elements that are not possible with voice-only communications technology. (Source: Wise Geek http://www.wisegeek.org)

Video Conferencing Promotion Video

Benefits of Video Conferencing

Video Conferencing is beneficial for student learning due to the interactivity and expansion of the classroom.

Video Conferencing in the Foreign Language Classroom is:

  • Global connections and learning
  • Great for cultural exchange
  • Creates a student centered classroom
  • Authentic exchange of language
  • Address learning standards and Common Core Learning Standards Anchors

General Benefits

  • Interactivity - Contrary to popular opinion, distance learning courses can offer increased interactions with students. In particular, introverted students who are too shy to ask questions in class will often "open up" when provided the opportunity to interact via e-mail or other individualized means (Franklin, Yoakam, & Warren, 1996). Through the increased interactions, teachers can better meet individual student's needs.
  • Equity - Educational inequity is a major issue in this and other countries. Rural schools often have less contact with educational trends, fewer qualified teachers, and more need for technology. Distance learning offers great potential for alleviating these issues
  • Effectiveness - Several research studies have found that distance learning is equally or more effective than traditional instruction when the method and technologies used are appropriate to the instructional tasks, when there is student-to-student interaction and when there is timely teacher-to-student feedback (Moore & Thompson, 1990; Verduin & Clark, 1991).
  • Multi-Sensory - One of the benefits of distance learning is that there is a wide variety of materials that can meet everyone's learning preference -- at least part of the time. For example, some students learn from visual stimuli, such as video, and others learn best by listening or interacting with a computer program.

Things to consider:

  • Sound delay - depending on the strength of the connection, there may be sound delay
  • While a live connection, there is a difference between true face-to-face communication
  • Internet connection needs to be reliable
  • Equipment and support of equipment is important for a successful connection

Video Conferencing Definitions of Connections

In the foreign language classroom there are numerous opportunities to expand the classroom and create an authentic interactive experience.

  • Classroom - to - classroom - share what you are learning with another foreign language classroom or connect to a classroom in which the native language is what you are learning. This is a great venue for cultural exchange.
  • Teacher - to - classroom - have a guest speaker who is an educator and speaker of the language that is being learned. Having a guest speaker allows for a different perspective and teaching style for students to learn. In addition, due to mobile devices, teachers and students can interact for tutoring purposes.
  • Vendor - to - classroom - there are a plethora of vendors that provide foreign language instruction and cultural exchange. Many of these experiences are free.
  • Collaborations - classrooms can collaborate on a project and present via video conferencing.

Video Conferencing Opportunities

There are numerous ways to connect using distance learning. Video conferencing using equipment such as a Polycom unit is one method. However, there are other resources such as Skype, Mobile Devices, Bridgit (Smartboard Video Conferencing), Adobe Connect (webinar software), and other desktop video conferencing software.

Project Ideas

Any distance learning project can be used in a foreign language classroom. However, here are some specific projects for the foreign language classroom. These are ideas to use and adapt to your classroom.

More ideas


There are numerous vendors that provide distance learning opportunities. Luckily, there are also sites that aggregate the vendors for easy searching.



There are educational communities that are actively looking to collaborate, connect, and share with classrooms around the world.

Cultural/Language Project
Global Ed Conference Collaboration Projects
Skype Community Projects
New York State Distance Learning Consortium (NYSDLC)

Video Conferencing Resources

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