Beyond the four walls: community based learning and languages
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Anne O'Connor (2012) 'Beyond the four walls: Community based learning and languages'. Language Learning Journal, 40 (3):307-320.
At a time when languages in universities are under pressure, community-based learning language courses can have many positive benefits: they can increase interest in language learning, they can foster greater engagement with learning, and they can encourage active learning, creativity and teamwork. These courses, which link the classroom and the community, help address needs in the community, share resources and make languages more visible. By giving students the opportunity to engage in practical work, their transferable skills are enhanced. The gap between the university and community is closed and positive attitudes towards language learning are fostered. This paper examines research into community-based learning and language courses and the effect that the approach has on students. Using an example of such a course in NUI Galway, the author gives voice to the student experience of a CBL course and its impact on their motivation, their style of learning and their attitudes towards language learning. Finally, a template for the introduction of such a course is proposed which guides instructors through the central elements in the design, implementation and evaluation of a CBL course.