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The English Language Center works with digital stories within the course “Cross-Cultural Communication and University Life” (ELC 054), an advanced English as a Second Language course. The 3-credit course is taught by Heather Linville and Tsisana Maysuradze in the spring and by Polina Vinogradova in the summer and fall.
The goal of this class is to help students recognize and analyze a number of cultural concepts as they are seen in a variety of new media genres. For example, in class, the students talk and read about the Iceberg Theory, individualistic and collectivistic cultures, cultures that use high and low context communication styles, identity, culture shock, and aspects of verbal and non-verbal communication. At the same time, the students watch motion pictures, documentary films, online advertisements, and digital stories applying the cultural concepts they had learned about. The students also participate in discussions, both face-to-face and on-line, in which they apply what they have learned to an analysis of their own culture and the culture they have experienced in U.S. campus life.
The final project of the class is a production of individual digital stories. The process of working on the stories throughout the semester includes choosing the topics, writing the narratives, collecting photographic images, and choosing the music to accompany their verbal narration. The students also discuss their stories in class, peer-review their narratives, and complete online journal entries which allow them to reflect on their progress and express their doubts and concerns to their instructor. The students also intensively work in the computer lab putting their stories together under their instructors’ guidance. Several digital stories that were produced in these classes can be viewed here.