Projects developed during Spring 2018 and Fall 2018 Semesters

Mapping, Data Visualization, and Digital Literacies for Language Learning within Urban Spaces

by Lee Abraham


Over the past several decades, we have witnessed a profound shift in emphasis in language pedagogy away from a curriculum that, almost exclusively, stressed linguistic competencies towards one that includes transcultural competence and encourages learners to reflect critically while engaging creatively with their immediate environment.

For many students, engaging with the world outside the classroom means connecting with an increasingly urban, multicultural, and multilingual environment, face-to-face or online. Consequently, projects that investigate the history and patterns of cultural contact of the various populations living within a city’s boundaries can serve as a powerful bridge between formal language classroom instruction and motivated, purposeful engagement with language usage beyond the classroom.

The primary objective of the project is to design a sequence of tasks/modules for instructors of all languages that can help language learners become more acutely aware of the socio-spatial context of language usage, develop the digital literacies needed to engage with spatial data in urban spaces, and provide them with the tools needed to reflect critically upon the linkages that exist between language, space and identity in urban environments.

The tasks/modules developed were designed so that they could be adapted for use in different languages, varying levels of instruction (elementary, intermediate, conversation, and upper-level courses), and in different instructional contexts (distance learning, hybrid/flipped classrooms, heritage language courses).


[ project presentation ]  [ slides ]  [ course syllabus ]

Multilingual NYC

Bosnian, Croatian, and Serbian Communication Skills Resource Development

by Aleksandar Boskovic


There is a lack of available resources for teaching communication skills in Elementary Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian. Over the course of Spring 2018, this project aimed to develop and pilot several types of resources in the Elementary BCS course – including dialogues and situational texts, worksheets, multimedia vocabulary learning sheets, and audio files – tailored carefully to the existing textbook, but responsive to student needs for a more immersive, communicative experience of the language. The effect of these pilot resources were recorded both through continued monitoring of oral proficiency improvement throughout the semester, and through student feedback. The insights thus garnered were used to produce a comprehensive report on the resources required to significantly enhance the teaching of communication skills in each of the thrice-weekly classes throughout the two-semester course of Elementary BCS.


[ project presentation ]  [ slides ]

Fall 2018 Campus Projects

Telecollaborating Overseas

by Federica Franze


This initiatives builds on the success of a joint international research educational project, involving American students (LLs) studying Italian language at Columbia, and Italian pre-service teachers (PSTs) enrolled in a “Teaching Italian as a Foreign Language” Master’s program at the University of Urbino, Italy. The goals of the project are to provide LLs with the opportunity to interact in Italian with Italian native speakers in an authentic context using Skype (or similar tool), while at the same time to give PSTs the chance to practice teaching Italian in a technology-mediated environment. LLs and PSTs are tasked with discussing Italian culture during four video-conferences scheduled over a two-month period.

In previous years, the author was able to invite two graduate students from the Italian department at Columbia to collaborate. The two graduate students were in charge of collecting and selecting teaching materials used online to create cultural pages on Canvas, designing additional pedagogical material such as grammar and vocabulary quizzes based on the lessons, and finally supervising American students’ participation in the project.

The current project expands on these efforts by developing on online platform where the materials collected and reworked by the graduate students were made available for other students and teachers of the Italian department. The platform, is accessible to all the teachers of the Italian department (lecturers and graduate students alike) and serves a source of material to be used in other classes.


[ project website ]  [ project presentation ]

Piazza Digitale

Video Killed the Textbook Star:  Using Comic YouTube Videos to Teach French

by Wesley Gunter


This project involves creating a pedagogical dossier that includes a series of worksheets to accompany YouTube videos that could eventually replace a textbook. The worksheets include a transcription of the video as well as activities to do in class, building on the theme. The project also involves creating subtitles for the videos that do not already have them.


[ project presentation ]  [ slides ]