Language and Culture Corner – finding ways for students to connect

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Four students chat online using video for the Language and Culture Corner

One of the ways that students taking language courses receive support is from their peers, with whom they can practice their language skills. In the Community and Professional Education (CAPE) unit of Renison, the newly established Language and Culture Corner (LCC) program is a way to provide students additional support by connecting them with one another.

The initial idea for the LCC came from CAPE council. The goal was twofold: connect CAPE language learners, and engage partner institutions. During the pandemic, with fewer students on campus, it became more and more important to create opportunities for Renison to engage students and partners in ways that could be easily translated to online formats. Enter the Language and Culture Corner!

The LCC program was piloted in Fall 2020 with CAPE Japanese language and culture students, followed by students studying Chinese and Korean in the Winter term.  The program is group-based, with students meeting regularly over a 6-week period, giving them an opportunity to apply their knowledge of the language and culture they are studying. Activities are flexible, and students are able to direct their own conversations, with the Renison International Office (RIO) providing discussion topics, questions, and support.

Reception to the new program has been positive, with students from across Renison participating. Though it is ultimately intended to engage with CAPE students, there are degree students who choose to participate as well. Overall, nearly 250 students from Renison and partner institutions have participated in the LCC since Fall 2020!

For Son, the attraction of the LCC was that it was an option for developing English speaking skills without travelling, which was not possible due to the pandemic. Though dealing with disappointment the LCC was, in Son’s words “the program I was looking for!” Every week, Son’s group chose a topic and spent time talking about their culture and experiences. After getting to know each other, the most interesting part for Son was learning about the culture and experiences of each member. The online format means that participants must be motivated to participate and, according to Son, successful engagement means the development of global as well as language skills. In the image below, you can see one of the presentations in Son's group, about Vietnam.

Image of an online presentation, a virtual tour of Vietnam.

This is still a new program, and we don’t quite know how it will evolve, but with positive student reception and engagement across Renison – this is a program to watch!

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