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The perceived value of videoconferencing with primary pupils learning to speak a modern language

Phillips, Magda (2010) The perceived value of videoconferencing with primary pupils learning to speak a modern language. Language learning journal, 38 (2). 221-238.. ISSN 1753-2167

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Abstract

Young modern language (ML) learners' heightened, yet temporary, phonological sensitivity suggests an aptitude for spoken communication with peer native target language (TL) speakers. Opportunities for this can be achieved through videoconferencing (VC). As researcher and specialist teacher at a primary school in England, I undertook a study of VC which aimed both to develop theoretical insights for policymakers and practitioners, and also to provide ‘usable processes’ associated with design-based research for developing young pupils' ML speaking skills. My challenge in brief weekly lessons was to develop pupils' usual group chanting/singing towards individual speaking in meaningful exchange in twice-weekly VC links with a partner French school. Participants' affective experience was the focus of data gathered from pupils in Years 2, 3 and 6. This article focuses on pupils' and teachers' views of the value of VC for learning to speak French. Pupils tended to see VC as useful for learning to speak French although peer pressure seemed to adversely influence Year 6 pupils' pronunciation. Some pupils of different abilities were highly motivated by their VC participation. Some able pupils' retrospective reflections on the longer-term impact of VC suggested it had been a ‘highlight’ of their entire primary ML learning experience, and they felt they had increased confidence in speaking as a result. A sample of lower ability pupils also retrospectively expressed a positive view of VC.

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