This morning Lance Erickson and Keenan Madson, two students currently taking Chinese 102, participated in a test Skype language exchange with two individuals in Taiwan in the field of international trade. In the future, the Culpeper Language Learning Center hopes to create more opportunities such as this one, integrating them into current courses when possible. Many students studying at gustavus have limited opportunities to use their new language skills outside of the classroom, and virtually connecting with an exchange partner not only helps students to practice their language skills, but also gives students the opportunity to learn cultural similarities and differences between cultures.
The experience was a positive one both for both sides of the language exchange. The students paired of, and part of the time was spent in English, part of the time in Chinese. Among other things, Keenan enjoyed expressing why he wanted to study Chinese, talking about his partners trip to Vietnam, and realized he really need to work on his tones. Lance found out that in addition to Mandarin Chinese, Taiwanese is also spoken in Taiwan. This was also a useful opportunity for their exchange partners to practice English as, just like our students will find here with Chinese, their opportunity to use English on a day to day basis is very limited.
The future looks promising for virtual language and cultural exchanges and the Culpeper Center will continue building relationships around the world to provide this kind of opportunity in as many languages as possible. Please contact the Director of the Center if you would like to get more involved.