Using Telecollaborative Learning Projects to Promote Communicative Competence in Primary Schools

Thushara Gamage (Speaker)

    Activity: Talk or presentationPresentation


    In outer circle countries like Sri Lanka, there is a growing need to learn to speak in English due to its growing role in education, governance and popular culture (Kachru and Nelson 2001: 11). Despite colonisation in 1796, English was not introduced into schools until 1830; when it was felt that the 'natives' should in time 'qualify themselves for holding some of the higher appointments' (Raheem and Ratwatte 2004: 93). By 1832, there were a significant number of private and missionary schools using English as the main medium of instruction (Kirpatrick 2007:91). By 1948, this situation had changed dramatically, following the introduction of free education in both mother tongues, Sinhala and Tamil, to reduce socioeconomic inequality, with enrolment rates soaring, resulting in 93 percent of students in state schools using the mother tongue as the medium of instruction (Kirpatrick 2007:91).Thus, English became a second language in most schools across the country.
    Although The Ministry of Education and The British Council in Sri Lanka have taken the initiative to promote English language programs in primary schools in Sri Lanka, it is not evident if these projects have specifically focused on promoting communicative competence in English in Sri Lankan classrooms. Telecollaborative projects which have been defined as online communicative tools that bring together learners from different countries have been used to exchange collaborative projects and intercultural exchanges that support language learning (O’Dowd and Eberbach 2004). A recent study by Gamage and Chappell (2013) indicated that there are favourable classroom and socio-institutional conditions between primary schools in Sri Lanka and Australia to use telecollaborative projects to promote communicative competence in English in primary schools in Sri Lanka. This is due to the potential to integrate these projects into the school curriculum as a spoken English activity.
    Therefore this paper will outline two specific telecollaborative projects and specifically address how one of these projects – a communicative English Language project can be used as social and artefact mediations to promote communicative competence in English in two primary schools in Sri Lanka. The Telecollaborative joint activity system (Dooly and O’Dowd, 2012, p. 95) will be used to outline how mediation occurs between the participants, tasks and an online tool to promote communicative competence in English. This will be discussed using a specific online learning tool – Voice Thread and 3 curricular related tasks where 23 Voice threads created by 50 participating students from a classroom in Sri Lanka and 23 students from a classroom in Australia.
    Period6 Jun 2014
    Event titleInternational Conference on Spoken English 2014
    Event typeConference
    LocationSantiago De Compostela, Spain
    Degree of RecognitionInternational