Disseminating the Developing Intercultural Engagement Project

Monday 25 June 2018, 12.30pm to 2.00pm

Speakers: Thomas Jochum-Critchley and Nadine Saupe, Assoicate Lecturers in German, Department of Language and Linguistic Science
Location: Room HG/17, Heslington Hall, Campus West

Workshop Summary

Placement learning is becoming prominent feature of undergraduate programmes at our university. The challenges for curriculum design, such as its alignment with programme learning outcomes, effective preparation and support of students’ placement learning are an exciting opportunity to explore new and innovative ways of engaging students in making the most of their experience away from York.

In this interactive workshop, we want to share our approach to designing and supporting student work whilst on placement abroad. We created a framework to prepare, support and assess project work students undertook whilst on placement abroad. The student projects were informed by ethnography and included the collection of primary data. We also created a number of support channels including communication on social media to explore effective ways of communicating with students on placement. We hope that our suggestions for a successful integration of placement learning into conventional programmes will be useful for colleagues across the university.

As we will use Padlet to facilitate collaboration and interaction in the workshop, we kindly ask you to bring your portable devices (smart phone, tablet, laptop etc.). We would also encourage all interested attendees to sign up to Padlet (if not already a user) as this will save time on the day.

Workshop Report

by session chair, Carmen Álvarez-Mayo

Workshop Prezi Presentation

In today’s workshop, two colleagues from Language and Linguistic Science have shared their experience in student placements abroad and how they support their students and their learning in the year abroad (YA) with an ethnography project.

At the beginning of the workshop we were shown a video where a student talked about her placement in Austria. The student noted that the best thing about the project she carried out was that it was linked with her personal interests, which made the work meaningful, therefore more relevant, motivating and engaging for the student. Nadine Saupe continued saying that the main focus of language student placements lies on the cultural context of the language learnt. German degree students were required to use ethnographic research to ensure they would explore, discover and learnt about German and Austrian culture during their YA.

Nadine’s and Thomas’s students would plan their work prior to their YA abroad and receive ongoing support throughout. Their students would attend a workshop celebrated in June to receive appropriate training to become familiar with what they would be required to do for their ethnographic project. Students start to devise their individual projects at the end of the aforementioned workshop and upload a plan to their own Google Drive folder. As pointed out by the student in the video we were shown, student work is linked with the students’ interests thus being meaningful and engaging, students compare cultures and practices reflecting on their own – first-hand – experiences being immersed in the culture during the YA.

There is a DIEP project website with guidelines for students, as well as a Facebook group to address YA student queries, email is also used to communicate with students who do not have a Facebook account. The project work consists of three blog posts written in English: one at the beginning, another in the middle and the last one at the end of the placement. Students receive feedback from the tutor and comments from peers.

Nadine and Thomas used Padlet to collect feedback gathered during the workshop on how to make placement work directly related to PLO’s taking into account that placements are not subject specific and learning is informal, ‘the context is not work related’. To achieve this, some form of assessment could be embedded into one of the following year’s modules. Perhaps the assessment could involve developing and publishing group work – ideally – written in the target language, in a website or online blog designed by the students using Google Sites – thus practising/developing IT skills and creativity through work that students can show to future prospective employers. Students could share feedback with one another, reflecting not only on the experiences and customs each one of them discovered but also on linguistic aspects learnt, such as words and idioms that are typical from the places they stayed, regional pronunciation or particular uses of different verbs/tenses, etc.

A link can be observed between the DIEP project and TANGO, an e-learning programme I designed in 2013/14, piloted the same academic year in conjunction with Universidad de Oviedo, Spain. Students at both universities worked individually and conducted peer work using the TL they learnt – here Spanish and in Oviedo English. TANGO was carefully devised to foster both autonomous learning and peer work, promoting student learning and focusing on cultural aspects. The use of online tandem projects similar to TANGO has expanded since and nowadays they are known as Virtual Exchanges (VE’s).

To conclude this blog piece, if you are not familiar yet with the Global Graduates website, follow the hyperlink to access one of the most useful websites for YA students and graduates with languages, which contains peer support, guidance and feedback, as well as lots of practical information – for students by students.


Janet Bennet: On Becoming a Global Soul: A Path to Engagement During Study Abroad. in Victor Savicki (ed.): Developing intercultural competence and transformation : theory, research, and application in international education (2008)

Elena Polisca: Residence Abroad and its Practices. Report carried out on behalf of UCML 2017 (2017). http://www.ucml.ac.uk/sites/default/files/UCML_YAreport_July%2017.pdf (18/4/2018)

Celia Roberts et. al. (Eds.): Language Learners as ethnographers (2000)
Brenda Little, Lee Harvey: Learning through work placements and beyond. Centre for Higher Education Research and Information, Open University (2006) Studies on student learning abroad

“The mere intermingling of individuals in intercultural contexts is not likely to produce in itself, intercultural learning.” (Bennet, 2008)

Álvarez-Mayo, Carmen. (2016). TANGO, an international collaborative bilingual e-learning project. In Goria, Cecilia; Speicher, Oranna; Stollhans, Sascha (Eds), Innovative language teaching and learning at university: enhancing participation and collaboration (pp. 37-48). Research-publishing.net. https://doi.org/10.14705/rpnet.2016.000403

Álvarez-Mayo, C. (2013). TANGO (Themed Autonomous Navigation Global Opus). https://sites.google.com/a/york.ac.uk/tango/

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