Monthly Archive for October, 2008

absolutely intercultural 69 +++ digital world +++ communication via new media +++ media fashion +++

thirty-three-messagesSkype, SMS, Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and Second Life. Like the characters in Pirandello’s play “Six Characters in search of an Author” these applications seem to have been set loose on our post-modern society without a clear script or a destination.
We have all heard about these digital applications which promise to make our lives richer, more interesting and more “connected”. However, it is difficult to predict which of these activities will still be part of our culture in 20 years’ time. Will they replace old-fashioned communication channels like the telephone or email? Or are they just a passing fashion for digital geeks and flat rate junkies?
Today we want to look at the online culture and how we all manage to be part of it in our daily lives at work and at home.

absolutely private:
Some weeks ago at a teacher-training event I met Evi and Linda who had attended my seminar on integrating new media such as podcasts and twitter into their teaching. Later in the afternoon I had the chance to speak to the two to ask them about their general attitude towards new media for communication. I asked how essential mobile telephones are in their private lives and while Linda has had her mobile since she was 13 (which seemed normal to me) to my utter surprise I heard from Evi, a successful professional in her thirties that she only bought her first mobile phone four months ago and only because she had to …

absolutely connected:
Assja Tietz, one of our students, who has spent a lot of time in different countries during her studies speaks about her study period in Australia, an excursion to Ireland and her recent internship in Hungary. What with all her moving around her challenge is actually to stay in touch, both with family and friends at home but also with those new friends she met during her stays abroad. So rather than being overwhelmed by too much communication on different media channels she is constantly looking for the best ways to be “close to home” even when she is far away…

absolutely fashionable:
Katrin dares a prognosis whether the new technologies we hear so much about will become important parts of our communication or whether they are more like a fashion that comes and goes. Can you imagine that perhaps nobody will remember Facebook or Twitter in ten years’ time?

The next show will be coming to you on 14 November from Anne Fox in Denmark.

So long…stay tuned!

The host of this show is: Dr. Laurent Borgmann
Editor: Jan Warnecke

absolutely intercultural 68 +++ 2 Million Minutes +++ Bob Compton +++ Rotary Youth Exchange +++ Shakespeare +++

2 Million MinutesLet’s start with a bit of Shakespeare!

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.
And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school.

I’ll stop right there because it’s our attitude to school which is going to be the main topic of of the show today. And if you want to know the rest then you’ll have to revisit ‘As you like it’.

In the last show we explored some of the many cultural aspects of learning apparent in one educational institution and in this show we’re going to stick with the idea of learning culture but this time on a world wide basis.

I mentioned the 2 Million Minutes project very briefly in the show on China and the Olympics but I was so intrigued by the project that I got in touch with Bob Compton, the man behind the project, so that I could find out more.

absolutely educated: What do you want to be when you grow up? According to Bob Compton the answer you give to this question when you are six or seven years old says a great deal about how successful your country is going to be economically in the future. Be honest now! What would your answer have been at that age?

Bob Compton is worried about the economic consequences of the American education system but sees the problem as arising from different cultural attitudes to learning and teachers. He decided to raise awareness about the competition from India and China by making a film following the lives of 6 high school students from the 3 different countries. The project is called 2 million minutes and I asked Bob to tell us more….

absolutely rotary: Bob kept asking me about how things were in Europe generally and Denmark in particular but having never experienced anything other than the European education system it was difficult for me to say. When I heard that one of my colleagues was hosting an American student, Brittany Alcorn, through the Rotary Youth Exchange programme I jumped at the chance for a chat with her. It seems that the Danish situation is probably closer to the American model than the Indian and Chinese models.

absolutely concerned: Back with Bob Compton I asked him to explain the title of the project and then wanted to know more about some of the main observations made in the film. He picked out the differing parental aspirations as a key difference.

absolutely musical: Ah but, say the objectors, it’s not healthy to study all the time, what about creativity? A running theme through the project seems to be the musical prowess of the Chinese on all sorts of instruments. Even the translator could play something on the accordion!

absolutely prepared: So having seen the situation in India and China did this have any effect on Bob Compton’s family at an individual level? I asked him in particular about his daughters’ education and discovered that the family had made radical changes.

‘In America you have tutors when your children are failing but in India and China you have tutors when your children are doing well so that they can do even better.”

‘In India your college application is your name and your test score. Nothing else!’

I was interested in this project for what it told me about cultural differences in the attitude to education but there have also been some very strong negative reactions to this project because it tends to view education in purely utilitarian terms. Where do you stand on this? Let us know here on the blog. What is the learning culture in your country? Is it closer to the Indian and Chinese models or closer to the American model? You will find lots more information about the 2 Million minutes project at their website where you can even take an Indian maths test and you will find many film snippets about the back story behind the project on their dedicated channel at YouTube.

By the way, I would like to do a show exploring some of the new social networking language learning websites which have sprung up in the last year or so. So if you have any experience as a user of sites such as Live Mocha, Palabea, Mango Languages or Babbel then get in touch because I would like to know if they really work.

The next show will be coming to you on 31 October from Dr Laurent Borgmann in Germany.

So stay tuned!

The host of this show is: Anne Fox
Assistant Editor: Jan Warnecke

absolutely intercultural 67 +++ teaching culture +++ South Americans in Germany +++ adult learners +++ women in adult education +++

Mauricio Virgens, Bariton, on his way up
In this episode we are going to have a look at adult education. Anne and I were lucky enough to be invited to the Volkshochschule Rhein-Sieg by Alexandra Haas. We took part in a very stimulating workshop day for trainers inspired by Alexandra’s previous project “Teaching Culture!”.

absolutely learner-oriented:
Mechthild Tillmann, director of the Volkshochschule Rhein-Sieg, reports on 24 different work-shops in which teachers shared ideas about marketing, suggestopedia, podcasting in the classroom and other subjects related to their teaching. Following the idea of “teaching culture” and the “culture of teaching” the institution invited their own teachers to turn into learners and improve their methods.

absolutely bossanovarized:
We listen to Mauricio Virgens from Brazil and Andres Villamil from Columbia, two South American musicians who played music for us, and “bossanovarized” our busy lives a little. Mauricio speaks about his mission as a cultural ambassador for his native country Brazil and tells us how he keeps up his cultural identity through music. Of course, we also get to enjoy a bit of their music.

absolutely enjoyable:
Katrin, one of the new staff at the Volkshochschule Rhein-Sieg, tells us how previous learning experiences of the participants can a be challenge for the teachers. She has noticed that learners seem to expect the same “learning culture” which they got used to when they were learners for the first time – years ago. However, one aspect seems to be important to all learners – that they learn faster if they are having fun.

absolutely gendered:
Evi and Linda both work in adult education and explain to us how adult education creates its own culture. We also hear about their perspectives on gender issues and that adult education, just like health services, appears to attract women with a strong impulse to help.

The next show will be coming to you on 17 October from Anne Fox in Denmark.

Und bleiben Sie schön interkulturell!

The host of this show is: Dr. Laurent Borgmann
Assistant Editor: Jan Warnecke











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