Pedagogical Models for Foreign Language and Multicultural Learning in an Interactive Multimedia Environment

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

The Learner's Partner

The Learner's Partner is an interactive individual tutorial model for use by students at individual workstations. The Learner's Partner modules are intended to introduce new subject matter as well as compliment materials presented to the class through the use of the Teacher's Partner. Learners navigate through lessons and work on their language skills. The lessons are self-paced, include feedback on performance, and are designed to respond to the varying needs of different learners. LP applications are being developed in Spanish, French, Russian, Polish, German, and Hebrew.

The following description was based on the Spanish Learner’s Partner México Vivo but it also applies to the German, Hebrew, Polish, Russian, and French LPs.

Each Unit features functional language and conversation segments, Conversaciones, in addition to in-depth cultural explorations, Reportajes. These units are subdivided into video chapters called Lessons. Each lesson includes activities from among: View & Listen, Listen & Read, Vocabulary in Context, Comprehension, Listen & Record, Listen & Write, Role Play, In Other Words, Let's Write and Moving On, which are described in further detail below.

Table of Contents

From the Table of Contents menu, you can access the different available lessons by simply clicking on one of the lesson titles. After clicking a button, a yellow check mark appears to show you which lessons have been viewed so you can keep track of your progress. (These check marks can be dismissed by clicking the square grey button in the lower left corner of the video window.) Lessons are divided into two categories: Conversaciones and Reportajes. The Conversaciones lessons are based on video segments which feature functional language and conversation segments; e.g. people learning to take a taxi or buy a plane ticket. TheReportajes segments are based on video segments which feature in-depth cultural explorations; e.g. people discussing indigenous art or herbal medicine. The Check Progress button accesses a progress chart showing your name and how much time, in seconds, you have spent on each activity. The Clear Progress button allows you to start over, and the Menu button at the lower right corner returns you to the Table of Contents Menu screen. The Exit button allows you to exit the program when you have finished.

View and Listen

View and Listen allows you to watch and listen to the video in segments or as a whole and can be shown with a transcription of the dialogue. This video provides the central focus for the rest of the activities.

General Guidelines:

You are provided a list of all words found in the different units. The words are listed alphabetically and accompanied by a definition and sentence in both English and Spanish using the word in context. You can access these definitions in two ways: When you are finished using the dictionary, click anywhere else on the page of the application to remove it from the screen. To close the Dictionary, click on the button in the top left corner of the dictionary and then select the Close menu item.
Listen & Read

Listen & Read breaks down the dialogues from the previous section into individual lines of transcription. This section allows you to check your listening comprehension by identifying the line of dialogue that you have heard spoken.

General Guidelines:

Vocabulary in Context

The Vocabulary in Context section allows you to review selected words from the lesson by listening to the video segment in which the word is used. You then try to match the word with the appropriate picture among those provided.

General Guidelines:


The Comprehension section provides a video segment and a series of content-based questions. After listening to the audio, you choose the correct answer to the written question from among the four or five given responses.

General Guidelines:

Listen and Record

The Listen and Record section allows you to practice your pronunciation by recording sentences spoken by native speakers of Spanish.

General Guidelines:

Listen & Write

The Listen & Write section allows you to practice your written Spanish by transcribing sentences spoken by native speakers of Spanish.

General Guidelines:

Role Play

In the Role Play activity, you will provide the dialogue of one person in a conversation.

General Guidelines:

Return to page top.

The Teacher's Partner

The Teacher's Partner is a presentation system combining computer and videodisc for use in the classroom. The Teacher's Partner is structured to enhance communicative activities. Each unit consists of several visually and topically related, yet discrete and independent, lessons. An accompanying Teacher's Guide offers the teacher a full transcription and grammatical indice in print. Applications in Spanish and French have been completed, while Russian, Polish, German, and Hebrew TP applications are presently under development.

The following description was based on the French Teacher’s Partner Quinze Minutes, but it also applies to the German, Hebrew, Polish, Russian, and Spanish TPs.

Application Features

The applications are designed to be employed by teachers who have little or no experience with computers. From a color-coded and annotated menu, a teacher can access different video segments, choosing from several modes of managing video and audio. Choices are made with the mere click of a mouse. The lessons are focused upon the communicative needs and interests of teens and young adults. They provide a rich texture, both in style and in pedagogic content. Each application and each lesson is organized in an identical manner.


Videos include interviews and descriptive narratives of adolescents and adults in their native cultural context. Supporting screens include explanation of idiom and grammar review opportunities, as well as trigger questions for class and small group discussion. The video content of the disc is displayed for the teacher, who selects a topic for class activity. Video segments offer the teacher complete control to repeat, skip forward, and play as appropriate.


Each video segment can be played with supporting text (i.e., transcription of speech). When text is shown, relevant vocabulary and language structures are highlighted as "hot" text from which additional information can automatically be made available. The "hot" text windows contain full-motion video, graphics, or text to illustrate and expand upon key concepts.


At the end of the work on any given video segment, "activities" screens suggest communicative exercises based upon the video content. Instructional benefits of The Teacher's Partner include:

System Hardware

The Teacher's Partner is designed to be both simple and classroom portable. It consists of an IBM PS/2, a Pioneer LaserDisc player, and a 26" Mitsubishi VGA monitor. The system is mounted on a 4'high Anthro cart with a built-in cabinet which houses all components beneath the strapped-down monitor. Keyboard and mouse are accessed from a sliding drawer which extends at a convenient height for a standing user. The Teacher's Partner is an affordable way for many schools to introduce multimedia technology.

Return to page top.

The Exploratory Mode

The Exploratory Mode encourages users to explore subject matter in a variety of ways, while providing them with useful guidance. A video narrative provides the main thread of the content, and links to additional relevant content are offered at strategic points through the media of text, graphics and sound. These links provide materials for exploration, expansion, and explication of points raised by the narrative. These materials occupy several cultural spheres, including fine arts, literature, history, geography and folklore. In every module, students are challenged with research projects to be delivered using multimedia formats. This requires them to integrate their existing knowledge, and new information and to think critically. Exploratory Mode applications are being developed in Spanish and English for the Buried Mirror project.

Return to page top.

The Creative Mode

The Creative Mode hands hypermedia over to students for production. Students are no longer conceived as passive recipients of a prearranged world view, but as active creators of one within the scope of their selected topic. They will have opportunities to do their own independent research projects, based on segments of the video narrative. Authoring tools are being created for learners, so that they can develop their own modules, without having extensive programming skills. The Creative Mode, in its final form, will include a modifiable media database of various video, audio, and graphic clips which students can incorporate into their own applications. They will also include a variety of templates for creating multimedia presentations. Creative Mode applications are being developed in Spanish and English for the Buried Mirror project.

Return to page top.