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Educational policy analysis archives.
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Language choice and global learning networks : the pitfall of lingua Franca approaches to classroom telecomputing / Dennis Sayers.
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1 of 18 Education Policy Analysis Archives Volume 3 Number 10May 17, 1995ISSN 1068-2341A peer-reviewed scholarly electronic journal. Editor: Gene V Glass,Glass@ASU.EDU. College of Educ ation, Arizona State University,Tempe AZ 85287-2411 Copyright 1996, the EDUCATION POLICY ANALYSIS ARCHIVES.Permission is hereby granted to copy any a rticle provided that EDUCATION POLICY ANALYSIS ARCHIVES is credited and copies are not sold.Language Choice and Global Learning Networks: The Pitfall of Lingua Franca Approaches to Classroom Telecomputing Dennis Sayers New York Abstract: How can other languages be used in conjunction wit h English to further intercultural and multilingual learning when teachers and students pa rticipate in computer-based global learning networks? Two portraits are presented of multilingu al activities in the Orillas and I*EARN learning networks, and are discussed as examples of the principal modalities of communication employed in networking projects between distant cla sses. Next, an important historical precedent --the social controversy which accompanied the intr oduction of telephone technology at the end of the last century-is examined in terms of its i mplications for language choice in contemporary classroom telecomputing projects. Finally, recommen dations are offered to guide decision making concerning the role of language choice in pr omoting collaborative critical inquiry. 1. Introduction The question of which language (or what mix of lan guages) to employ as the "coin of the realm" when teachers and students participate in co mputer-based global learning networks is too often answered, without hesitation or reflection, w ith a single alternative: English. After all, is not English the pre-eminent world language and, mor eover, the foremost language of science and technology in today's world? How could other langua ges, alone or jointly, possibly offer as broad a range of learning possibilities as does English? This article will explore some principles --drawn from actual networking experiences-upon w hich educators can make more informed


2 of 18decisions as to whether the learning and language a cquisition goals of their students are best served by choosing English as the sole medium of co mmunication for computer networking. It seeks to answer the question: Under what conditions can other languages be used in conjunction with English in an effort to further intercultural and multilingual learning? I will begin by offering two portraits of classroo ms involved in computer-based global learning networks. The first short portrait is set within the context of the Orillas multilingual "team-teaching" network project while the second, l onger portrait describes activities coordinated by I*EARN and other confederated networks belonging to the Association of Progressive Computing. De Orilla a Orilla (Spanish for "from Shore to Shore") is an internat ional teacher-researcher project that has concentrated on documenting --through serious research involving teachers-promising practices for interc ultural learning over global learning networks. Since 1985, Orillas has been an international clearinghouse for establ ishing long-distance team-teaching partnerships between pairs or groups of teachers separated by distance. Orillas team-teaching partnerships are multilingual (in Fre nch, Haitian, English, Japanese, Portuguese, and Spanish) and multinational (with schools in Pue rto Rico, Quebec, and the United States, but also in English-speaking Canada, Costa Rica, France Japan, and Mexico). The collaborating teachers make use of electronic mail and computer-based conferencing to plan and implement comparative learning projects between their distant partner classes. Such parallel projects include dual community surveys, j oint math and science investigations, contrastive geography projects, and comparative ora l history and folklore studies (Figueroa, Sayers & Brown, 1990; Sayers, 1993). Often teachers in Orillas electronically publish their students' collaborative work over the Internet. Research on Orillas has focused on those networking activities which e ffect social change, validating traditional forms of knowledge i n the schools, anti-racist education, and linguistic human rights, while allowing teachers to explore the classroom practicalities of teaching based on collaborative critical inquiry (C ummins & Sayers, in press). For example, this research has studied projects (using both qualitati ve and quantitative research designs) that have raised self-esteem among Puerto Rican students in t he U.S. involved in partner class activities with schools in Puerto Rico (Sayers, 1991 & 1994), as well as projects that promote intergenerational literacy learning and parental in volvement in global learning networks (Sayers & Brown, 1994). DeVillar and Faltis in Computers and Cultural Diversity judged Orillas "certainly one of the more, if not the most, innova tive and pedagogically complete computer-supported writing projects involving stude nts across distances" (1991, p. 116). I*EARN stands for the International Education and Resource Network, and is a member of The Association for Progressive Computing (APC), a confederation of computer networks concerned with peace, environmental, conflict resol ution, health and public interest issues. According to its founder Peter Copen, "the most fun damental purpose of I*EARN is to have the students learn that they can make a difference in t he world" (personal communication, January 31, 1995). I*EARN now includes hundreds of schools in over 20 countries, including: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Britain, Canada, China, Costa Ri ca, Finland, Indonesia, Hungary, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Korea, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zeal and, Spain, the United States, and the newly-independent states of the former USSR and the former Yugoslavia. Like Orillas I*EARN attempts to maintain a balance of schools inside and outside North America in order to insure intercultural diversity in its networking activities. Both projects are among the few major global learning networks that h ave an official "language policy" encouraging participants to write in languages othe r than English -based on the assumption that when schools receive communications in other langua ges, it will serve as a stimulus for exploring local linguistic and cultural resources t o assist in translation and in understanding other cultural realities. Perhaps the most important fact or in the success of the communities of


3 of 18intercultural learning created by these two network s is their insistence on a process of democratic, decentralized decision-making in both d ay-to-day work and long-term planning. Both networks recognize that far too often in the p ast educational technology has been dominated by a patronizing "we know best" attitude by some No rth Americans when working with educators from other nations (1) In the pages that follow I will offer two portrait s of multilingual networking activities with occurred in the Orillas and I*EARN learning networks. These portraits are then discussed as examples of the principal modalities of communicati on employed in computer networking projects. Next, an overview is provided of an impor tant historical precedent --the introduction of telephone technology at the end of the last century -with implications for contemporary networking technology and global learning networks. Finally, recommendations are offered to guide policy makers' and teachers' decision making regarding the role of language choice in attaining learning goals.2. A portrait of a partnership between classes in M aine and Quebec City (2) In the 1992-93 school year, two classrooms --one i n northern Maine, close to the border between the United States and Canada, and the other in the capital of Canada's Quebec Province, Quebec City-were among over a hundred classes tha t participated in "partner class projects" through their involvement with the Orillas multilingual computer network. Both classes were composed of upper elementary grade school children, and neither group had used computer learning networks previously. Here the similarities between the classes ended. The class in northern Maine was composed of students from franco phone background whose teacher was interested in her pupils recovering the cultural an d linguistic heritage of their parents and grandparents through contact with speakers of Frenc h in Quebec. The teacher of the class in Quebec City, on the other hand, was pleased at the opportunity to sharpen her students' English skills by working on curricular projects with nativ e speakers in the United States. With these language learning goals in mind, the tw o teachers proposed a bilingual language policy to guide their interschool exchange s: the Maine class would attempt to use French whenever possible, but could always resort t o English to express complex ideas, while the Quebecois would employ French for most of their wri tten exchanges, practicing their English whenever they felt comfortable doing so. With this language policy in place, the classes began their work on parallel learning projects in a way t hat encouraged the acquisition of a new language in both settings. For their first joint activity, neither group of s tudents knew the exact identities of their distant counterparts; the classes exchanged "myster y cultural packages" containing soil samples, photos and examples of local flora and fauna, indiv idual and class photographs without identifying information, and other clues by means o f which the partner class might deduce the location of their faraway colleagues. This informal "ice-breaking" activity was followed by a more formal joint student journalism project which resulted in a student magazine at year's end that both classes had worked hard to make fully bil ingual --writing, critiquing, revising and translating -in French and English for each and e very student author. Unlike many classes in the Orillas global learning network, these classes in two diff erent countries had the advantage of being located relati vely close to each other -a mere three hour school bus ride apart, in an area of the world wher e such distances seem trivial. Thus, at the end of the school year, the teachers made the travel ar rangements for the Maine class to visit Quebec City as a culminating activity. Imagine the experie nce of the American students as they met their partner class for the first time face-to-face. They learned first hand that the distant classmates with whom they had collaborated in French and in En glish for nearly a year, and upon whom they looked as competent and highly-proficient mode ls for learning French as a second language,


4 of 18were deaf. Indeed, their first language was LSQ ( Langue de Signe Quebecois or French Canadian Sign Language) and their second language -a language these profoundly deaf students had never heard-was French.3. Contact with the Veli Joze Refugee Camp in Savud rija, Croatia (3) In January of 1993, a group of volunteer relief wo rkers from Catalonia belonging to a pacifist organization called MOC (Moviment d'Object ors de Consciencia), were set to travel to Veli Joze, a refugee camp located in Savudrija, Cro atia that had been set up by the Croatian military to house Bosnian refugees. Before they lef t, Narcis Vives, an educator from Barcelona, heard of their trip and contacted Miquel Colomer of the MOC. Vives asked if the Catalan volunteers would be interested in taking a donated computer and a modem to Croatia to install in one of the makeshift "schools" the Croats permitted to operate, with little material or human support, for the 500 children living inside Veli Jo ze. Colomer agreed and set up a computer station in the refugee camp. There, a boy named San el Cekik wrote a message about the impact of the war on himself and his family, and sent it o ut over the modem to schools around the world. The challenge of translating Sanel's message, whic h was written in Bosanki (a dialect of Serbo-Croatian) to a world language more familiar t o others --and thus translatable to other languages-was resolved quickly by educators in Ba rcelona. They conjectured that by sending out a call for a translator of Bosanki over a numbe r of networks where students were using global telecommunications that some student somewhere woul d come from an immigrant family background where this dialect was still spoken at h ome. They had guessed correctly. A student from Cold Sp ring Harbor Public High School in New York, Tanya Lehmann, was taking part in several projects through the I*EARN global learning network, and she and her family understood Bosanki. She wrote back to the educators in Barcelona on February 22, 1993: I was involved in translating Sanel's letter becaus e I am working on a project dealing with the abuses of human rights occurring around th e world. ... We are very interested in the events taking place in the former Yugoslavia, we are very excited that we were of some help to you. I will be very ha ppy to translate your letter to Sanel. I will send a copy of the translation to you and Narcis. -Tanya Lehmann (in Vives, personal communication, S eptember 9, 1994). Here is the translation of Sanel Cekik's letter tha t Tanya sent to Narcis Vives in Barcelona: The war slowly but surely came to our city. After s ome time, it happened; the Serbs took over the city and as everywhere they started w ith their terrible torture. My incident is next. One night in my apartment where u nfortunately was my father, came four Serb soldiers. First they beat him. (My f ather is 60 yrs old). Then they made horrible wounds on his back, on his forehead, his hands with razor blades. The next day when I came and saw him in this condition, I was very shaken. This picture is going to forever stay in my mind as the pictures of many other people and children who were killed by the Serbs. A message to the whol e world from me and all the children, my friends, and from all other refugees. Thank you for all the help. Stop this damned war!!-Sanel Cekik (in Vives, personal communication, Sep tember 9, 1994). The English translation of Sanel's letter reached h undreds of schools around the world because


5 of 18Narcis posted it on a variety of global computer le arning networks, including the APC networks, FrEdMail, and the European Schools Project (ESP), w here it was translated into many other languages. The reaction was overwhelming. Students everywhere began sending electronic mail messages to the refugee camp. Here are some of thei r reactions in English, though "e-mail" was sent in many other languages as well: Dear Sanel,I am an Australian girl, shocked and repulsed by th e present state you and your family have been put in. The brutality and lack of mercy shown by the Serbian soldiers has sickened and disturbed us. Most people my age know little of the tragedies you face but we would like to broaden the international knowledge of the war. Personally I don't know the whole story behind the war and I can't honestly say I can relate to what's happening but I do sympathiz e and would like to do all in my power to help. I think the world should be more awa re of the atrocities others face. As an Australian I can write to the government to i ncrease public awareness, and perhaps the United Nations. We (our class) just wan t to tell you that people do know what's happening, you are not alone ...Dear Sanel,I am 13 years old. I live in Duluth, Minnesota. ... I am really sorry that this war is going on and I hope it gets over soon. I am not jus t writing this because my teacher told me to, I am writing because I want to. Some pe ople say that this war is just going to go away, but I don't think that it is goin g to. In my thoughts I think that this war is wrong. People who want to fight don't need g uns or knives, what they need to learn is how to fight with words.Dear Sanel,I come from Australia. Our class read your letter a nd I felt upset on how the Serbian soldiers could do something so horrible. Our class is writing to the Australian Government to try to end the war. My dad was in the Vietnam war and he got wounded and my dad doesn't talk about it much but y ou were there when the Serbian soldiers attacked your dad so you're in a different situation ... (in Vives, personal communication, September 9, 1994). With the flood of international concern pouring int o his camp, the Croatian Army director decided to pull the plug on the computer the childr en had been using to communicate with youth around the world. But the Catalan teachers and volunteers knew that the awareness that Sanel's letter had brought to so many could not be allowed to vanish. They tried to come up with creative ways to perpetuate the interest and commitment which had be en mobilized in classrooms in so many countries. Narcis Vives posted this electronic mess age to students and teachers: Now the camp's director doesn't allow telecommunica tions being used there because he loses control about the information leaving the camp. Anyway, we will try to use other ways. Every twenty days some volunteers leave Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain to Veli Joze, Croatia with a lot of messages and drawi ngs. The Bosnian children also send us hand-written messages and drawings which we will share with you if you are interested (personal communication, September 9, 19 94).


6 of 18Though electronic mail was no longer possible, Vive s was offering to serve as a conduit for the concern which Sanel's message had awakened in class rooms around the world. Mail --electronic and otherwise-began pouring in, including drawing s, photographs, videotapes, class projects, and school materials. Then the whole team of Catalan volunteers and teac hers organized yet another way to harness technology to amplify the interest that San el's letter had generated. They called for an International Day of Solidarity with Veli Joze on F ebruary 26, 1994, the highlight of which would be a simultaneous videophone conference call to include children at Veli Joze with students from two cities in New York and 8 schools in Barcelona. Preparations for the Day of Solidarity were complex. In order to expand the num ber of schools around the world that could participate in the activities, in the weeks before Vives had sent out a request for drawings and messages of solidarity --written in any language-to be faxed to Barcelona no later than two days before the Day of Solidarity. In the hectic days pr eceding the activities, Vives wrote: I have received messages and drawings related to Ve li Joze from Australia, Israel, Chile, Russia, Denmark, Germany, Holland, Croatia a nd different states in the United States: New York, Georgia, Massachusetts, Te xas, Minnesota, Washington, Florida, Ohio (personal communication, September 9, 1994). Two days before, early in the morning of February 2 4, 1994, two Catalan teachers and a professional clown left Barcelona with a videophone and all the drawings and messages of solidarity that had arrived from around the world and a donated computer to reconnect the refugee camp school to the Internet. Their destinat ion was the Veli Joze Refugee Camp in Savudrija, Croatia. There they would set up an Art Exhibit and prepare the necessary equipment for the videophone conference call and the computer teleconference that would take place on February 26th, the Day of Solidarity. That day was filled with activities, some of which were technology-mediated, and others simply human. In Veli Joze, the teachers plugged in their videophone --a slow-scan video camera embedded in a standard telephone receiver designed to project photos of speakers and simple texts during phone conversations-and teachers and students at 10 schools in New York and Barcelona saw and spoke with Sanel Cekik himself fo r the first time. During this videophone conference, Tanya Lehmann's skills as a fledgling i nterpreter of Bosanki once again provided the link, in Long Island, between Sanel and students ar ound the world. Other teachers and children at Veli Joze answered questions from their internation al interlocutors and supporters. After the videophone conference call, the Catalan volunteers used the donated computer and modem to conduct a live computer teleconference in which the Veli Joze students could communicate simultaneously with students in 6 different schools by typing messages that would be read in Catalonia. But activities of solidarity were not limited to t echnology-mediated communication. Vives writes: [In Catalunya, students] could see some slides from Veli Joze and together in the playground of the school we sang Bob Dylan's song Blowing in the wind" with more than 40 guitars and flutes being played by chi ldren from different schools. In Veli Joze at this same time a Catalan clown call ed Tortell Poltrona was acting for the children. Later, they could also see an exhibit ion of drawings and writings ... Now the solidarity day has gone, but not our solida rity. We will look for the best ways to help. They certainly need money, food... bu t in my opinion what they need the most is love, a lot of people sending them mess ages, drawings, asking them to do


7 of 18things, motivating them. We still don't know if we will have telecommunication facilities (the Catalan teachers are negotiating wi th the camp authorities this fact). Anyway, every 20 days a group of Catalan volunteers go to and come from Veli Joze. They can send and bring messages (in Vives, p ersonal communication, September 9, 1994). Vives was correct; the Day of Solidarity would cont inue to reverberate in the Veli Joze refugee camp. The Catalan Tortell Poltrona, one of the clow ns who was at Veli Joze that day, wrote --in Catalan-of his experience at Veli Joze and its af termath. There was so much interest in his remarks that they were later translated into severa l languages by his colleagues in Catalunya. Here is the English translation: With my performance watched by over 700 people, mos t of them children, I could determine the value of a clown in such a situation where humour is the medicine and laughter the cure.In the camps, most of the inhabitants are children, and most of them are orphans. A high rate of psychological and physical tension exi sts among the people, but the need to laugh never dies, and so, by creating smiles ins tead of tears, even for only a short period, we can raise the life standard in these dep ressing camps. This was not so easy for me, as a performer, since the audience was racked with bitter and tragic memories. But once I had one smil e, the laughter followed quickly, as though the sun had broken through the storm.Today, medicine and science recognize more and more the therapeutic importance of laughter. If laughter is so vital for society under normal conditions, its necessity in conflict situations is obvious.After this experience we arrived in Barcelona with the decision to organize expeditions of artists to such under-privileged chi ldren, not only in war-torn Yugoslavia, but in all situations where children ha ve lost their rights to be children (in Vives, personal communication, January 31, 1995 ). In response to the misery engendered by ethnic stri fe, Poltrona went on to organize a non-profit organization of fine artists and performing artists designed to raise money for refugee camps in war-torn Bosnia-Herzegovina, and to visit the camps regularly. To date there have been twenty-three trips by different performers to dozen s of camps; moreover, they have sent contingents to Pakistan, Brazil and several countri es in North Africa, and most recently Chiapas in Mexico. The arts and technology-mediated communi cation have joined common cause. Narcis Vives summed up their impact: The group of teachers that give support to Clowns without Borders and other Non-Governmental Organizations like Musicians for Peace who have recently joined the project want to continue giving support to the clowns' and musicians' trips, and would like to try once again sending com puters and modems to the refugees camps. In fact, we have identified 32 Bosn ian refugee camps in Croatia. Three of them would welcome telecommunication facil ities to all the world. We are now trying to raise the money to get these computer s and modems (personal communication, September 9, 1994). Sanel Cekik's electronic mail message unleashed a c hain reaction of social action around the


8 of 18world in response to the violence of ethnic strife in the former Yugoslavia, introducing into the vocabulary of countless nations horrific concepts a s repugnant (and as historically resonant) as "ethnic cleansing." Global learning networks brough t this new reality home to students and teachers around the world, themselves from many lin guistic and cultural backgrounds, providing them opportunities for confronting intolerance.4. Two common modalities of computer networking These portraits exemplify networking activities wh ich would have been impossible had a single language been chosen as the lingua franca of exchange. They also illustrate the two most common modalities of global learning networks, each of which raises different issues affecting language choice: (a) class-to-class partnerships, and(b) multi-class networking projects.Class-to-class partnerships The partnership between the classes in Maine and Q uebec City highlights several important elements of "binary" collaborations and t heir considerable potential for promoting second language acquisition and intercultural learn ing. In class-to-class partnerships teachers have more occasions to shape the exchange in ways w hich suit the particular learning needs of their students. Successful partnerships seek to tak e full advantage of two key elements of networked collaborations which at first would seem antithetical to language acquisition and intercultural learning: distance and asynchronous c ommunication. Distance, in the context of binary exchanges, crea tes the possibility of collaboration with an unknown but knowable audience, principally throu gh written communication. The inevitable cultural differences which exist between distant gr oups require clarity of written communication in disclosing local realities. Distance also provid es multiple occasions for receiving questions from distant interlocutors concerning these written communications, as well as for querying their culturally-bound, "home-grown" versions of reality. In the Maine/Quebec City partnership, geographic and cultural distances stimulated a vigo rous year-long communication that focused on diverse local realities. Even though the student s shared a common francophone heritage, it was nevertheless true that for one group this herit age was a living reality while for the other it was a cultural and linguistic tradition in danger o f fading into another kind of distance, that of a distant memory. In a sense, communication over geog raphic and cultural distance had created a context for cultural rescue work (for other example s of "cross-cultural" communication between students from the same culture, see Sayers 1991, 19 94). Although an electronic message may arrive on the o ther side of the globe seconds after it is sent, "e-mail" is asynchronous. Asynchronicity -communication that does not occur in "real time"-introduces a time lag that permits language learners to reflect on their responses, rarely possible in face-to-face communication. They can ta ke advantage of the calm of "offline" composition to refine their electronic mail respons es. Since partner classes are working on parallel learning projects, both lexicon and the la nguage structures in which vocabulary items appear are constantly being recycled, creating a he lpful redundancy that in turn promotes the kind of "comprehensible input" (Krashen, 1982) which mus t precede "comprehensible output" (Swain, 1986) for learners of a new language. Asynchronicity allows second language learners the extra time they need to elaborate and polish written texts --all the while based on "mode ls" of native speakers of the target language--


9 of 18constantly seeking (and relying heavily) upon assis tance from their local language and cultural resources who may be teachers, peers, and community members (Sayers, 1986). In the Maine/Quebec City exchange, the deaf studen ts took perhaps the fullest imaginable advantage of the "extra time" provided by asynchron icity to compose and refine their written communications to their U.S. counterparts with exte nsive assistance from their local language and cultural "experts," that is, their hearing teac hers, parents and the community in which they lived. Indeed, they --as language learners-in tur n became the models for "native-speaker" input for their distant classmates in Maine. It is this p otential for engagement with local human and material resources that is especially relevant for overcoming the language barriers to successful global networking, since often there are bilingual and even bicultural collaborators close to home who can become partners in intercultural learning.Multi-class networking projects World-wide telecommunications also permits another modality of collaboration that can facilitate second language acquisition and intercul tural learning in multilingual contexts: multi-class networking projects. Where class-to-cla ss partnerships encourage language learners to tap into their local linguistic and cultural res ources, multi-class networking projects seek to cast as wide a net as possible over the information network in its search for expert informants. In this modality, it is assumed that any cultural and linguistic expertise which cannot be found locally --yet which is essential for successfully p ursuing a given learning activity-will surely be available somewhere over the Internet, and therefor e can be shared with every one of the many participating classes. Multi-class learning projects seek to confront the challenges posed for effective multilingual/intercultural learning by invoking an extensive breadth of available human resources; class-to-class partnerships, on the othe r hand, engage these challenges differently, relying instead on the intensive depth of locally a vailable expertise. The Veli Joze Refugee Camp project exemplifies the focus on world-wide access to a broad range of human linguistic and cultural resources which is typical of multi-class networking projects. In an "English only" networking project, Sanel Cekik's message would hav e been lost. A clear voice expressing the human toll of ethnic strife not only would have gon e unheard but would never have generated the chain reaction of events that led to the Day of Sol idarity and beyond. 5. Fear of telephones: The social controvery surrou nding the earliest interactive "proto-network" North American educators have, for the most part, treated pedagogical innovations ahistorically, as though each "new" approach repres ented a revolutionary and clean break with past practices, rather than standing in an evolutio nary relationship to the achievements (and missteps) of previous generations of educators. Now here is this tendency more apparent than in the area of educational technology, documented ampl y in Larry Cuban's excellent historical survey of educational technology, Teachers and machines: The classroom use of technol ogy since 1920 (1986). The following section seeks to augment thi s countervailing perspective by considering an important historical precedent --the social controversy surrounding the introduction of telephonic communication at the tur n of the last century-a subject relevant to our discussion of language choice in the context of global learning networks. Indeed, as we prepare to enter a new century in an era of new communications technologies, perhaps the most revealing lessons pr ovided by history are those surrounding the appearance of the telephone and the shock waves it occasioned in the social order at the end of the nineteenth century. For of all earlier communic ations technologies, telephony was the first to


10 of 18introduce into fin de siecle homes and businesses the potential of instantaneou s two-way communications. Not surprisingly, today's computer networking, made possible by the linking of two widely available technologies --personal comput ers and the world-wide infrastructure of telephone communications-raises similar issues a hundred years later. And these are issues that have to do not only with mere technology but with t he perception that this technology could pose a challenge to the political and economic status qu o. During the last quarter of the nineteenth century, the rate of technological change relating to language and communication became truly vertigin ous, paralleling today's explosion of computing and networking technologies. In quick suc cession, a string of what Carolyn Marvin, in her excellent study When Old Technologies were New (1990), has termed "proto-mass media" were introduced: the telephone, phonographic record ing, the radio and the cinema. Each of these technologies would later play a major role in the d evelopment of mass communications in the twentieth century. Marvin examines in exhaustive de tail the writings which appeared in the popular press and in professional journals on these nascent mass media forms. Not surprisingly, her portrait of the spirit of those times is startl ingly parallel to our own. One hundred years ago, the telephone was an invent ion that inspired both admiration and fear. On the one hand, it was cheered as ushering i n a new era of world unity in which everyone --anywhere-would be connected through voice signa ls. On the other hand, telephony seemed to many a frighteningly too-new medium for two-way com munication, and one which generated discomfiting confusion among responsible citizenry interested in safeguarding cherished traditions of "Western Civilization." As Marvin not es, "the early history of electric media is less the evolution of technical efficiencies in communic ation than a series of arenas for negotiating issues crucial to the conduct of social life; among them, who is inside and outside, who may speak, who may not, and who has authority and may b e believed" (p. 4). Telephone technology held the promise --and the th reat-of permitting two-way communication between people from different culture s located anywhere on the planet, and on a basis dangerously approaching equal terms. Marvin d etails the concern and confusion which greeted the introduction of telephones, and in term s which evoke the partisan debates of our own times on the place of multiculturalism in schools: Chaotic and creative experiments ... attempted to r educe and simplify a world of expanding cultural variety to something more famili ar and less threatening. That impulse fixed on one-way communication from familia r cultural, social, and geographic perimeters as a preferred strategy to tw o-way exchange, with its greater presumption of equality and risks of unpredictable confrontation. ... New kinds of encounters collided with old ways of determining tr ust and reliability, and with old notions about the world and one's place in it: abou t the relation of men and women, rich and poor, black and white, European and non-Eu ropean, experts and publics (pp. 5-6). Indeed, Marvin notes, "the prospect of media that m ade senders and receivers proximate and seemed to eliminate many of the barriers that kept them safely separated excited profound xenophobic anxiety" (pp. 200-201). According to Marvin, the utopian technologists of that time --like today's-trumpeted in the popular press the dawning of an epoch with enor mous potential for cross-cultural understanding and world peace in organs of the popu lar press. However, a less sanguine view was evident in professional journals. If barriers t o international communication were to come tumbling down in the face of telephone technology, Marvin docuented the widespread concern that the new terms of intercultural discourse shoul d be negotiated in ways which favored a particular monocultural world view. And this world view was seen as decidedly monoling ual. Marvin comments,


11 of 18"instantaneous communication augured a universal la nguage, usually thought to be English, and ... this distinctly Anglophile solution reflected a conviction that the provincialism of English-speaking peoples was the sensibility of the world" (p. 193). Marvin summarizes her critical review of nineteenth century popular and p rofessional literature on the impact of the telephone with this chilling passage: The capacity to reach out to the Other seemed rarel y to involve any obligation to behave as a guest in the Other's domain, to learn o r appreciate the Other's customs, to speak his [or her] language, to share his [or he r] victories and disappointments, or to change as a result of any encounter with him [or her]. For their part, peripheral Others were expected to do all these things, to com municate on terms provided by the center, and to converse with representatives of European civilization without saying much back in the course of the conversation about their own unique cultures (p. 195). Thus, the early history of telephone technology is particularly relevant to our discussion here in light of recent developments in computer ne tworking that repeat many features of the ideological skirmishes which accompanied the introd uction of the telephone at the turn of the twentieth century. Among modern computer learning n etworks (as noted above), Orillas and I*EARN are the among the few educational projects t hat have explicit "language policies" which encourage other than English-language participation in all their worldwide learning projects. Indeed, some other learning networks have explicitl y banned the use of languages other than English as the medium of exchange, and this in spit e of the obvious potential of global learning networks to promote genuine intercultural learning and multilingual skills. In this sense, little appears to have changed betw een the turn of the last century and the coming of the next as societies confront what seem to them as threatening changes, provoked by potential dialogues between cultures and across dif ferences. Given the bureaucratic, Taylorist mindset which has prevailed in schools from the lat ter part of the nineteenth century to the present, it is hardly surprising that schools shoul d mirror the larger society in their fright over "two-way" or interactive communications technologie s, giving preference to "one-way" media such as broadcasting or closed-circuit radio and te levision and film, and more recently, computers, whose interactivity --far from being har nessed to encourage intercultural learning-has too often been restricted to that of a "surroga te teachers" which dispense pre-packaged lessons.6. Policy implications for language choice in educa tional networking There can be no doubt that monolingual participati on in computer networking activities will continue to play an important role in global l earning networks. Single-language involvement in networking activities (whether in English or any other language) offers the obvious benefit of intensive input in the target language, focused on a specific shared curricular project. However, the purpose of this concluding section is to offer policy makers and educators a series of principles which can guide decision-making concerni ng language choice so that multilingual networking activities are not overlooked as context s for target language development and for increased intercultural awareness. Establish team-teaching partnerships locally with c olleagues in bilingual education and foreign language education that enhance your di stance learning partnerships The best resource available for bilingual networki ng may be found right down the hall or just across town in a local bilingual education or foreign language classroom. Of course, the


12 of 18learning objectives that you, the subject-area educ ator or content-based ESL teacher, have outlined for your class will differ from your colle agues who are teachers in bilingual and foreign language education. The goal of any Spanish/English bilingual teacher, for example, is to use her students' mother tongue as a springboard for acquir ing English fluency. A Spanish teacher would seek to develop his students' foreign language prof iciency. Yet in the context of a bilingual networking activity, your learning goals can be com plemented by those of your colleagues whose responsibility is language development. Bilingual a nd foreign language teachers can assist subject-area educators in unlocking a door to a wor ld of learning activities that native English-speaking students could never explore on th eir own. Another group of educators represent a largely unt apped resource for this type of team-teaching: teachers in private after-school lan guage classes sponsored by local communities for the children of recent immigrants. These classe s are often given under the auspices and in the facilities of mosques, temples and churches. Rely on human interaction rather than technological "quick fixes" such as translation software Often educators assume that the most straightforwa rd approach to multilingual networking is the utilization of "translation software." A mor e realistic assessment of the state-of-the-art in translation programs is less optimistic. All the co nsiderable resources of the Central Intelligence Agency and the Department of Defense over a period of twenty years resulted in the decision to abandon machine translation in the late 1980's. The memory and processing speed of desktop computers has not advanced sufficiently in the inte rvening years to permit reasonably accurate translation in any but the most restricted and spec ialized subject-matter contexts. Even if effective translation software were availa ble, we as educators would still need to ask ourselves whether and under what conditions mac hine translation should be employed to advance particular language learning goals. For the re will always be some aspects of intercultural learning that are better accomplished through human interaction --which of course in the future will be increasingly supported and amplified by com puter-based prosthetics-rather than by relying on computing machines to automate multiling ual exchanges. Among the alternatives to automatic translation which we have previously disc ussed are tapping into local language and cultural resources (especially parents and students but also community organizations) and developing partnerships with local foreign language teachers. Another key option available to teachers is the cautious use of today's admittedly imperfect translation software which can be employed to generate a rough idea of an electronic message's content, with a view toward isolating key passages for fuller examination throu gh the good offices of local community members who are both bilingual and bicultural. Keep content-area learning goals foremost when deci ding on language choice Content-based language learning has attracted cons iderable research attention in second language acquisition circles (see, for example, Moh an 1986, 1990). This approach to language learning assumes that students acquire a language n ot by studying its structure but rather through employing the new language in rigorous, sophisticat ed ways with a view toward learning a specific content-area. Teachers must balance subjec t-matter learning requirements with sound second language development. Often, global learning networks offer a richly mot ivating context for content-area learning; yet this content may be communicated in a nother language. If teachers' content-area learning goals are concerned with environmental iss ues, then especially attractive networking projects would include schools where, for example, endangered species and threatened rain forests are a daily reality -even if those contac ts require reliance on languages other than


13 of 18English. Similarly, there are many countries where science instruction is far advanced as compared with similar curricula offered in North Am erica. Subject-area teachers as well as teachers of conte nt-based ESL would do well to explore local linguistic and cultural resources in order to benefit from contact with teachers and students from other countries where subject-matter instructi on outpaces curricular norms in this hemisphere. By tapping into local language and cult ural resources in the school and community, teachers may take fuller advantage of the Internet as a nexus for classroom activity which promotes content-area learning while enhancing lang uage development in any language. Take advantage of asynchronicity to allow language learners to assume "expert" roles The deaf students from Quebec City --themselves le arners of French as a second language-could assume the role of "native-languag e" informants for the students in Maine, owing to the asynchronicity of telecomputing and th e greater time available for reflection, revision and capitalizing on assistance from local speakers of French. We, as teachers, need to rethink our assumptions concerning language learner s in the context of emerging global learning networks. Obviously, novice language learners --reg ardless of their second language fluency in face-to-face situations-can and should become inv olved in sophisticated telecommunications projects with distant native speakers of the target language. Taking this logic a strategic step further, it fol lows, for example, that English language learners in a second language learning situation (t hat is, within an English-speaking country) can serve as "native speaker" models for English langua ge learners in a foreign language setting. Because the ESL students have greater access to nat ive speakers of English --and since asynchronous telecomputing permits them the luxury of enough time to benefit from this assistance and improve the writings they send via e lectronic mail-even novice ESL students can provide high-quality English language input in thei r long-distance collaborations with other students, while themselves benefiting by assuming h igh-status "expert" roles. Consider mixed-media to supplement written text exc hanges over networks Comprehensible input (Krashen, 1982) and comprehen sible output (Swain 1985) are as key to intercultural learning as they are to second language acquisition. The exchange of meaningful and purposeful context-embedded communic ations can only work to promote both second language acquisition and intercultural learn ing. At present, computer-based learning activities rely heavily on the exchange of written messages, an extremely context-reduced medium which severely restricts the contextual clue s (gestures, facial expressions, situational cues, and so on) upon which language learners depen d to comprehend complex linguistic input. One important way of compensating for this deficie ncy in contextual clues is to incorporate a variety of audiovisual media as integ ral parts of distance learning activities. For example, a joint learning activity with a distant p artner class might involve the exchange of student-produced "slide/tape shows." Using electron ic mail to coordinate their work, students at two distant sites plan and shoot a sequence of slid es that depict key community sites and cultural activities. Local students then author, ideally in pairs or small groups, a brief narration that describes each slide; authors then record on audiot ape their narrations, following each reading with a signal beep of some sort. The numbered slide s, audiotape and a written transcript can then be sent to the partner class via national postal se rvices. Electronic mail can then be utilized by both classes to discuss and compare their slide/tap e shows. Video clips, audiotape recording and photography --especially when accessible universall y through WorldWideWeb graphical browsers on the Internet-can all enrich the mix o f contextual clues available for multilingual intercultural learning.


14 of 18Conclusion Parents, students, educators and policy-makers mus t learn how to cultivate linguistic and cultural resources both locally and globally. If a specific class-to-class networking project makes sense for students --yet the language of exchange i s other than English-it is worthwhile exploring all available human and material resource s before ruling out participation in the project. Sometimes, especially in the case of world languages such as Chinese, French and Spanish, students and their parents will be --and s hould be-the first resources to investigate for intercultural learning projects. Many communities h ave cultural societies and organizations which would be pleased to refer teachers to linguis tic "experts" and cultural "advisors" for global learning activities. Moreover, with the growing interest in educational telecomputing, there are literally hundreds of fascinating multi-class networking proj ects being announced every month on the Internet by teachers all over the globe. Before eli minating those projects which employ a mix of languages, teachers may consider contacting the pro ject's organizer to determine whether or not translation can be arranged by contacting bilingual participants in the project. Often the global reach of a networking project can supplement the su rprisingly rich local resources which are available for intercultural, multilingual learning and critical collaborative inquiry. Endnotes Both I*EARN and Orillas take advantage of computer networking to spread da y-to-day decision-making responsibilities far and wide aroun d the world. Yet the two networks recognize the value of face-to-face contacts in sol idifying their communities of learning. The three co-founders of Orillas Enid Figueroa of the University of Puerto Rico, K ristin Brown of the University of San Francisco, and Denni s Sayers of the Department of Teaching and Learning of New York University have w orked together for over a decade to assure that every country and culture participating in Orillas has a voice in shaping the direction of this multilingual network. Orillas has organized numerous two-week Summer Institutes where teachers are invited to Puerto Ric o to work with colleagues in designing and testing collaborative networking projects. Simi larly, I*EARN is governed by the I*EARN Assembly composed of one representative from each of its Centers around the world, which in turn elects a 5-person Executive Co mmittee that serves as I*EARN's Board of Directors. Each of the members of the Exec utive Committee is from a different country, thus assuring that one cultural perspectiv e never dominates decision-making. Contact information for these networks:(a) International Education and Resource Network (I *EARN) 345 Kear Street Yorktown Heights, NY 10598 Phone: 914/962-5864 Email:(b) Orillas : De Orilla a Orilla (Spanish for "From Shore to Shore"). Email the Co-Directors: Kristin Brown Enid Figueroa or De nnis Sayers Other networks that promote plurilingual learning a re: (c) European School Projects, at risc@esp.educ.uva. nl. ESP has sites on the WorldWideWeb at the URL and on gopher at the URL gopher:// Intercultural Email Classroom Connections Lists : "IECC" is intended for teachers seeking partner classrooms for international and cr oss-cultural electronic mail exchanges. 1.


15 of 18This clearinghouse LISTSERV is not for discussion o r for people seeking individual penpals.Subscriptions: E-mail these words: subscribe iecc yourfirstname yourlastname Participation: iecc@stolaf.eduOnce you have subscribed, IECC welcomes requests fo r a K-12 partner classroom. In your message of introduction, use a descriptive subject, for example: "Seeking Spanish-speaking 9th-grade classroom" or Looking for 12 6th-grade students in Pakistan"In the body of your message, be sure to include inf ormation about your classroom and preferences for a partner classroom, including: who you are, where you are how many students you have how many students you would like to connect with when you would like to connect other special interests desired country/culture (area within a country if a ppropriate) desired language The IECC Gopher (updated daily and searchable) can be reached at gopher:// and its World Wide Web a ddress is Global SchoolNet Foundation offers an entire ra nge of networking activities and continues to define the philosophy, design, culture and content of educational networking on the Internet. Its goals include "the development of a low cost, community-based, distributed electronic data communications network owned by public agencies such as schools, libraries, cities, and other community ser vice organizations, with the goal of providing all citizens equal and free or lowcost access to the basic tools of information access, retrieval, and transmission that are so imp ortant in our age of information." Global SchoolNet Foundation has collected important data o n the effective use of translation software for intercultural learning. For more infor mation, contact The following portraits are drawn from research con ducted for the forthcoming volume by Jim Cummins and Dennis Sayers, Brave new schools: Challenging cultural illiteracy through global learning networks from St. Martin's Press. 2. The events outlined in this portrait are depicted i n the videotape "A Global Gateway for Kids," produced by the Southwest Educational Develo pment Laboratory under a contract with the Office of Educational Research and Improve ment of the US Department of Education. Ordering information available from SEDL 211 East 7th Street, Austin, Texas 78701, USA. 3.ReferencesCopen, P. Personal communication, January 31, 1995.Cuban, L. (1986). Teachers and machines: The classroom use of technol ogy since 1920. New


16 of 18York: Teachers College Press.Cummins, J. & Sayers, D. (1990). Education 2001: Le arning networks and educational reform. In C. Faltis & R. DeVillar (Eds.) Language minority students and computers New York: The Haworth Press.Cummins, J. & Sayers, D. (In press). Brave new schools: Challenging cultural illiteracy through global learning networks New York: St. Martin's Press. DeVillar, R. A., & Faltis, C. J. (1991). Computers and cultural diversity: Restructuring for school success Albany, NY: SUNY Press. Figueroa, E., Sayers, D. & Brown, K. (1990). Red mu ltilingue para el apprendizaje: De Orilla a Orilla. [A multilingual learning network: From Shor e to Shore]. Micro-aula: El maestro y la computadora] [Micro-classroom: The teacher and the computer] 8, 27-30. Krashen, S.D. (1982). Principles and practice in second language acquisit ion Oxford: Pergamon Press.Marvin, C. (1990). When old technologies were new: Thinking about elec tric communication in the late nineteenth century. New York: Oxford. Mohan, B. (1986). Language and content Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley. Mohan, B. (1990). LEP Students and the Integration of Language and Content: Knowledge Structures and Tasks. In Proceedings of the Research Symposium on Limited En glish Proficient Students' Issues (pp. 113-160). Washington, DC: Office of Bilingual Education and Minority Language Affairs.Sayers, D. (1986). Sending messages: Across the cla ssroom and around the world. TESOL Newsletter (Supplement on Computer-Assisted Language Learning ), 20 (1), 7-8. Sayers, D. (1991). Cross-cultural exchanges between students from the same culture: A portrait of an emerging relationship mediated by technology. The Canadian Modern Language Review/La Revue Canadienne des langues vivantes, Theme issue on "Heritage Languages", J. Cummins (ed.), 47, (4), 678-696.Sayers, D. (1993). Distance team teaching and compu ter learning networks. TESOL Journal 3 (1), 19-23.Sayers, D. (1994). Bilingual team-teaching partners hips over long distances: A technology-mediated context for intra-group languag e attitude change. In C. Faltis, R. DeVillar and J. Cummins (Eds.) Cultural diversity in schools: From rhetoric to pra ctice Albany NY; State University of New York Press.Sayers, D., & Brown, K. (1994). Putting a human fac e on educational technology: Intergenerational bilingual literacy through parent -child partnerships in long-distance networks. In D. Spener (Ed.), Adult biliteracy in the United States: A National C learinghouse for Literacy Education Forum Washington D.C. and McHenry, Illinois: Co-publish ed by the Center for Applied Linguistics and Delta Systems Company.Swain, M. (1985). Communicative competence: Some ro les of comprehensible input and


17 of 18 comprehensible output in its development. In S. Gas s & C. Madden (Eds.), Input in second language acquisition (pp. 235-253). New York: Newbury House. Vives, N. Personal communication, September 9, 1994 .Copyright 1995 by the Education Policy Analysis ArchivesEPAA can be accessed either by visiting one of its seve ral archived forms or by subscribing to the LISTSERV known as EPAA at (To sub scribe, send an email letter to whose sole contents are SUB EPAA y our-name.) As articles are published by the Archives they are sent immediately to the EPAA subscribers and simultaneously archived in three forms. Articles are archived on EPAA as individual files under the name of the author a nd the Volume and article number. For example, the article by Stephen Kemmis in Volume 1, Number 1 of the Archives can be retrieved by sending an e-mail letter to LISTSERV@a and making the single line in the letter rea d GET KEMMIS V1N1 F=MAIL. For a table of contents of the entire ARCHIVES, send the following e-mail message to INDEX EPAA F=MAIL, tha t is, send an e-mail letter and make its single line read INDEX EPAA F=MAIL.The World Wide Web address for the Education Policy Analysis Archives is Policy Analysis Archives are "gophered" at To receive a publication guide for submitting artic les, see the EPAA World Wide Web site or send an e-mail letter to and include the single l ine GET EPAA PUBGUIDE F=MAIL. It will be sent to you by return e-mail. General questions about ap propriateness of topics or particular articles may be addressed to the Editor, Gene V Glass, Glass@asu.ed u or reach him at College of Education, Arizona Sta te University, Tempe, AZ 85287-2411. (602-965-2692)Editorial Board John Andrew Coulson Alan Davis Mark E. Thomas F. Alison I. Arlen Gullickson Ernest R. Aimee Craig B. Howley u56e3@wvnvm.bitnet William Richard M. Jaeger Benjamin Thomas Dewayne Mary P.


18 of 18Les Susan Bobbitt Anne L. Hugh G. Richard C. Anthony G. Rud Dennis Jay Robert Robert T.