Speaking Exchange

Intergenerational and Intercultural Knowledge Sharing

Luciana LocksRio de Janeiro (BR), November 2017 - Luciana Locks works at the CNA Language School headquarters in Brazil. She holds a BA in Languages and various specialization certificates and is a teacher trainer and manages a group of consultants. One of the projects she is most proud of is the "Speaking Exchange" in which CNA students in Brazil have conversation sessions via the internet with elderly people in the United States and Canada. She will participate in the session about video communities, Session VID 42, 07 December from 16.30 to 17:30.

Nowadays, video communities do a lot more than just sharing content. Could you please tell us a bit about your concrete experience with the use of video?

Luciana Locks: We are not exactly a video community. The Speaking Exchange program uses an app that enables students and American or Canadian senior citizens to engage in conversations. Most of our students are between 14 to 19 years old, and the seniors live in retirement homes in the aforementioned countries.

 How did your project come into being, and how long did it take for it to develop?

Luciana Locks: We wanted to develop a project in which our students could have more contact with the foreign language they are learning. Then we got the idea of developing an intergenerational project. Our question was then, "What could possibly bring a group of Brazilian teenagers and American and Canadian seniors in their 80s together in a project to promote conversation sessions?"

At first, students who had been studying at private language schools for at least three years were very interested in the idea of interacting with a native English speaker. However, their motivation pathway gradually took a turn when they realized there was so much more to learn besides the aspects of the language to which they had been exposed in class.

The students also had to get over the prejudice that senior citizens were to be pitied because they generally sit around all day doing nothing. The program gave them the opportunity to overcome the image that the elderly are not interesting people or do not have any contributions to make. The senior citizens, in turn, got the chance to learn about another culture, to become even busier, and to feel they had a lot to learn from these teenagers, which moved them to reconsider their ideas about young people.

In the Berlin presentation, we will show videos of the conversation sessions, which still take place every week via an application especially devised for the program. We will also share our insights on the role of technology in connecting people from diverse backgrounds. Moreover, we will argue that the sessions of the Speaking Exchange Project contribute towards learning more than the narrow linguistic aspects of the target language and open the doors (and windows) to the cultural and affective aspects.