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Geneva <-> Kibbutz Dafna:
A Bridge far Beyond Lake Geneva


Observation Site:

- 2 Classes from Collège Claparède (Upper High School):
3 AVB (Artistic "stream") [17 year-olds] and Anglophones [15-16 year-olds who are "culled" from among the first-year students]
- subject-matter: English (ESL / EFL)
- project duration: November 1996 to June 1997
- One hour per week spent on CMC (computer-mediated communication)
- equipment: computer lab equipped with 12 Pentiums
- as well as: free access to a computer lab
- teachers: Lilliam Hurst (Geneva) and James Backer (Kibbutz Dafna)


Objectives and motivation of the teacher for the project:

To carry out an exchange - in English - with a group of students (15-16 years old) in Kibbutz Dafna (Har V'Gai school) in the north of Israel, where English is also a second language; this should allow the Genevese students to make personal discoveries about conditions existing in the communities in northern Israel, one of the hot-points of the planet at present. The Israeli students will be able to obtain first-hand information from students living "in-situ" at one of the places where Peace Projets are discussed.

The use of CMC is an old dream, that of being able to allow our youth to debate with their peers from other cultures, other countries. How wonderful to be able to imagine the exchanges that debate could bring. What an opportunity for us teachers, to be able to play a part, even a small one, in the birth of the realisation that differences with Others are a treasure, to be guarded as such.

Besides, the pretext for all of these exchanges is the vehicular language (English, in my case). And, although I have investigated other subject matters taught at my school during previous explorations, my main goal (sometimes concealed to all extents and purposes) has always been the accrued independence of my students in English. I can only hope that their ease of expression will increase - which has so far not failed to happen in a medium as exciting as CMC.What I appreciate is the fact that my role is transformed - from being a judge, my role evolves more and more into that of "facilitator". The contact with their peers has quickly become a need among all the groups I've worked with, and even the difficulties encountered during various connections has not diminished their very real enthusiasm. I ought perhaps to say that CMC often creates enthusiasm among the teachers as well, since there is an element of discovery for them too; it therefore becomes far easier to transmit the feeling of enthusiasm to the students as well.


Description of the project:

The students first received and read ALL the messages sent to us by the Israeli students, since they are supposed to be exposed to as much of the target-language as possible (cf. Krashen). The students are encouraged to "skim" all the texts, and then to "scan" for the points they wish to respond to. They discover, incidentally, that it isn't as important as they thought to understand the exact, precise meaning of every single word to understand the global message ferried by the postings, and that allows us to approximate (even if only very distantly!) the reading techniques of English L1 speakers.Once they had finished reading all the messages, the students (freely) chose a partner, based on common interests as discovered by reading all the messages, and they all wrote a personal message to their new "key-pal".To facilitate the work of my colleague Jim Backer in Kibbutz Dafna, all messages exchanged are collated into one long e-mail message.



Lilliam Hurst
Collège Claparède
61 ch. de Fossard
1231 Conches
Geneva, Switzerland
Email: (main address)

Subsidiary comments:

This exchange might be followed, at a later date, by a more ambitious one, with EXCHANGE (texts in English by students with another L1), or by a participation in the project GLOBAL STUDENTS' NEWSWIRE or WINGS (WINGS Electronic Magazine is published for and by students involved in the International StudentLists Project. WINGS is published both in its World Wide Web version and it's Electronic Mail version on the 15th of every month except for June and September), for the creation of a world-newspaper by students of English as an L2.

See: description of previous CMC project - AT&T Learning Circles.


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Last version: 21.5.97; pdf