IMEJ main Wake Forest University Homepage Search articles Archived volumes Table of Content of this issue

1. Opportunities & Challenges...
2. Foreign Language Faculty,...
3. Net Research Tools,...
4. Authentic Online Target...
5. Electronic Text & Multimedia...
6. Toward a New Era Pedagogy...
7. In Conclusion
8. References

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New Era Trends And Technologies in Foreign Language Learning: An Annotated Bibliography
Janice B. Paulsen, University of Richmond

Though the Internet may still be in its infancy, a review of technological trends and technologies in foreign language learning since the advent of the Web indicates that computer-assisted and Web-enhanced language learning is coming of age. Evidence abounds in the changing university curricular patterns; the impressive Internet presence of language faculty; the appearance of new and improved Web research tools, strategies, online reference works and electronic resources; and the development of the advanced multimedia technologies that facilitate cross-cultural communication and collaboration. This paper presents illustrations of these trends, demonstrating that technology-enhanced language learning is enabling a revitalized and more effective pedagogy.

1. Opportunities and Challenges for University Language Learning
Current university trends such as global education, internationalization of the curriculum, foreign languages-across-the-curriculum, business language programs, diversification of the student body, and increasing technical literacy in students, have ushered in a new era of opportunities for language programs in higher education.

It is no longer a question of whether to take advantage of these electronic technologies in foreign language instruction, but of how to harness them and guide our students in their use. Today's students understand computers and the Internet, and their professors are proficient in the languages they teach. When faculty and students work together, exciting leaps in learning can take place. Effective technology tools, strategies, and resources assist foreign language instruction by fueling the students' natural motivation to speak another language and get inside another culture [Paulsen 2000].  Authentic, meaningful, interactive, student-centered, Web-based learning activities can improve student performance in much the same manner as learning the language and culture while studying abroad.

It is hoped that the following selective sampling of educational technology in foreign language instruction will encourage university language faculty to maximize the learning experience of their students.

About the author...

2. Foreign Language Faculty, the Internet, and Web Resource Sites

As observed during the author's sixteen-year Internet experience, including the past six years as developer of one of the original French portals, the number and quality of university faculty Web sites have dramatically increased. Back in the spring of 1996, university colleagues wondered why there was so much concern about upgrading the language computer lab facilities when they couldn't even get their email to work properly. Many of these same people now have elaborate Web pages and write articles and books on integrating technology into language instruction.

Highlighted in this section are examples of trend setting Web sites pioneered by university professors of French. Their consistently expanding, long-term Internet presence and contributions to the profession reflect the maturation of electronically assisted foreign language learning in the new millennium.



An external link to the author's homepage.

2.1 Guy Spielmann's Georgetown University Documents pédagogiques, first caught the author's eye in 1997 when she discovered his Sens du Langage French grammar sites, which included the noteworthy La Phrase Complexe, a French Complex Sentence Grammar Guide. This resource had been lacking in many American intermediate level French language texts. Spielmann’s Web grammar reference materials not only help fill the gap, but they also illustrate the value of Internet resources created by skilled teaching professionals. The grammar resources also include links and mirrors to the BEPP French Grammar student projects Cartes et schémas (under the direction de Gilles Lemire, Université Laval). See, for example, the Projet d'élève entitled Le mode des verbes (created in 1996 and still impressive).  Lemire's renovation of the GRAMMAIRE BEPP site further illustrates the advances made in the development of Web-based material by university language instructors.

External links to Guy Spielmann's:
Documents pédagogiques
French Complex Sentence Grammar Guide,
Grammar Resources

An external link to Projet d'élève Le mode des verbes.

An external link to Lemire's renovation of the GRAMMAIRE BEPP site.

More recently, for the Middlebury Ecole française P@ge des Débutants, Spielmann wrote the Beginner's Guide (which might more accurately be called the "Beginner's Bible"). Although prepared for an intensive summer language immersion program, it could well serve as the basic guide for every novice and intermediate level FL instructor and student. Note the Menu and Program overview.

Spielmann's latest contribution is Projet OPSIS: Spectacle du Siècle (Centre virtuel de ressources sur les arts du spectacle aux XVIe, XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles). The Menu page for this "Virtual Center of Resources on Theater Arts in the XVIth, XVIIth and XVIIIth centuries" illustrates the use of the Internet resource center in advanced literature courses. Included in the image map are pointers to resources grouped by category: Bibliography, Dossiers, Links to other related sites, Authors/ composers, Dictionary, Chronology (with principal political, economic and social events juxtaposed with those concerning the "arts du spectacle"), Texts (links to complete online texts), Images, and Documents sonores.

External links to Spielmann's:
Middlebury Ecole française P@ge des Débutants,
Beginner's Guide

An external link to Spielmann's Projet OPSIS: Spectacle du Grand Siècle (Centre virtuel de ressources sur les arts du spectacle aux XVIe, XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles).
Login with guest userid: pantalone and password: magnifico

2.2 Patrick Rebollar, Professor of French Literature and Computer Applications (University of Nanzan, Japan), who has been using the computer and the Internet for more than ten years, created ­­­­­Recherches et activités littéraires in Japan, as well as the renowned French Literature portal site Chronologie Littéraire 1848-1914, the inspiration for many subsequent faculty literary Chronologie pages.

External links to:
Recherches et activités littéraires,
Chronologie Littéraire 1848-1914

Adept at computer-assisted language learning, he is an active member of the Hubert de Phalèse Group (Université de Paris 3) and moderator of their LITOR language and literature discussion forum.

Rebollar's favorite Internet memories include the moment in 1997 when he first was able to listen to French radio programs online from Japan.  In the intervening years, Rebollar has witnessed the constant improvement of the information technologies, particularly relishing those which permit him to remain in close contact with French politics and culture, and purchase books and recordings online at normal prices.

An External link to LITOR language and literature discussion forum.

2.3 Thomas C. Spear, Professor of French at Lehman College and The Graduate Center, CUNY, is another notable pioneer of foreign language Web development. In his 12 Jan 2001 5+ ans web... bilan pour la balzacie post to the BALZAC-L Discussion Forum, Spear traces the five-year growth and development of his Francophone Web page resources.

· January 1996 - the basic (now greatly expanded) French @ Lehman, CUNY site;

· January 1997 - the Ph.D. Program in French, CUNY site; and

· October 1998 - île en île, the definitive Francophone Island portal site. The Haïti index page illustrates the expanding wealth of Francophone resources made available through this collaborative project.

Not having begun his first email correspondence until 1992, Spear recalls that even then email messages were still being sent without accents (unfortunately, some still are) and that at that time there was no visual browser interface. When one said “Internet" there was only "gopher" and "lynx" and the connection speed was 1,200 bps.

An external link to the BALZAC-L Discussion Forum.

External link to Spear's
French @ Lehman, CUNY site,
Ph.D. Program in French, CUNY site,
"île en île ,
Haïti index page

Of all the pages he has created, Spear continues, his Afrique Francophone portal is by far the most visited. In the beginning there was almost nothing online about Francophone Africa, but as others got online they sent him their links, resulting in a growing body of valuable material.

An external link to Spear's Afrique Francophone portal.

2.4 Le quartier français du village planétaire.  In March 1995, when the author’s Encyclopédie de la France sur la toile:  Le quartier français du village planétaire went online, there was very little on the Web about or in any Francophone country, including France. (See link on page one.)  The Quartier français was given its first Paris mirror by AdmiNet that summer and is now mirrored in Francophone countries all over in the world.  The following January, an article by the author describing the Global Village French Quarter adventure appeared in Virtual Connections [Paulsen 1996].  That spring, her University of Richmond students put up the first Web site for the Château de Versailles.

An external link to the author's Château de Versailles.

The Quartier français du Village planétaire educational portal is designed to encourage the learner to go out on the Francophone Web and actively use French language skills to discover the people and culture first hand. To guide faculty and students in their virtual visit to the French-speaking "neighborhood" of the Global Village  there are the various Menu rubrics:  Kiosque à journaux/ Office de tourisme/ Musées/ Forum des Profs/ Bibliothèque/ Café électronique/ Maison des Médias/ École de la Langue française/ École de Commerce/ École primaire/ Terrain des Sports/ Centre pédagogique/ Ressources de la Civilisation française/ Activités pour accompagner l’Histoire CM/ Activités pour accompagner Le Petit Prince/ Activités pour accompagner L'Étranger/ Le Verbe français/ Outils de recherche.  All of these are also explained in English in the Global Village French Quarter Welcome Center Guide.

External links to the author's:
Quartier français du Village planétaire,
Global Village French Quarter Welcome Center Guide,
Centre pédagogique du quartier français

An annotated selection of quality pedagogical resources and sound instructional applications can be found at the Centre pédagogique du quartier français. Of special interest is the center’s collection of target language tutorials, such as the interactive basic French tutorial Polar FLE, created by the French webmestres Thierry Perrot and Anne Fournier. FLE learners improve their French while helping Inspector Duflair find the criminal.  The User’s Guide, in several languages, explains that all clues are given in the process of completing the vocabulary, grammar, and reading comprehension exercises (grouped according to level from beginner to advanced). French grammar is fully explained and vocabulary is illustrated. Suspects in the address book (whose profile and activities are discovered while completing the exercises) must then be contacted by email. In the Interrogatoire activity the learner verifies their alibis. Then, in the Arrestation activity the learner must explain how the arrest took place and finally fill out the police report.

External links to the Polar FLE site:
Basic French Tutorial,
User's Guide in several languages,

Le crime

A screenshot movie (6.8 MB) showing a Le crime page's RealAudio sound clip and online exercise with "immediate response."

3. Net Research Tools, Strategies, and Resources

New and greatly improved Web research tools, strategies and resource collections, as indicated in the sampling below, are increasing student and faculty ability to take advantage of the wealth of Internet information.

The Copernic Summarizer, an electronic Web page text summarizer for Internet information research, provides a quick idea of the content of sites retrieved by search engines. As described in the Tuesday, January 2, 2001 online edition of Liberation, this new Web research software sums up Web page content automatically, thus greatly facilitating Internet information research. The program identifies key words based on the number of times they appear and ponders them according to their position in the text. It then selects the sentences containing the key concepts. Apparently, the "résumé de texte" technology utilized by Copernic is similar to that of the AutoSummarize tool first introduced in Word97.  Like the Word SpellCheck and GrammarCheck tools, it is far from perfect, yet can be of some help to the intelligent user.

An external link to The Copernic Summarizer.

An external link to the January 2, 2001 online edition of Liberation.

The following Web research support materials created by URFIST permit students to stay within the language while sharpening their research skills and availing themselves of the best authentic French resources: 

  • URFIST de Paris Indexe, resources for the training of students in French University Library Science.
  • URFIST CERISE, an online guide for training students in specialized Internet humanities document research.
  • URFIST Pistes de recherches (Research Paths), leading to official French documents.
  • Evaluation de sites internet dans FOURMI, URFIST Web site evaluation tools and resources.
  • Moteurs de recherche sur internet, a PowerPoint URFIST Internet Search Engine tutorial containing 75 slides explaining the complexities behind the relatively weak coverage of the Web by existing search engines.

Likewise, two valuable new research tools have recently been made available by the University of Montreal, Canada:

  • Infosphère, a fine student reference on Internet research methodology designed to support the student research project from start to finish. This detailed database index includes (translated from the French) How to Begin / Define Your Needs / Preparing Your Research / Choosing Your Sources / Catalogues and Data Bases / Web and Internet URL Addresses, Repertoires, Search Engines, MetaSearch Engines / How to Search "in" the Web / Locating Documents / Evaluating and Citing Sources / Writing Up and Presenting Your Work.
  • Chercher pour trouver ("Seek and Ye Shall Find"), a charming student-centered target language tutorial in Internet information research created by Hélène Guertin, MBSI, professeure au Collège de Maisonneuve, and a team under the direction of Paulette Bernhardat of the Université de Montréal. Although designed for French Canadian Secondary School students, this learning module would also be particularly helpful (and within the reading ability range) for beginning and intermediate level French foreign language students. Note the clarity of the 6 Learning Steps and the extensive database accessible from the site map, as well as from the detailed alphabetized index.

URFIST: Unité Régionale de Formation à l'Information Scientifique et Technique

External links to URFIST:
URFIST de Paris Indexe,
URFIST Pistes de recherches,
Evaluation de sites internet dans FOURMI,
Moteurs de recherche sur internet





An external link to Infosphère.





An external link to Chercher pour trouver.

From the personal collection of Marianne Pernoo-Bécache, Library Curator at l'ENSSIB, one finds these Sites Chercheurs,a rich compendium of sites useful for researchers in French literature.

l'ENSSIB: Ecole nationale supérieure des sciences de l'information et des bibliothèques

An external link to Sites Chercheurs.

4. Authentic Online Target Language Reference Resources

Authentic target language online references such as dictionaries, grammars and encyclopedias can greatly facilitate immersion and advanced research. Twenty-first century students are already accustomed to working on computers and with the Web. Whereas a few years ago they could be seen lugging their bilingual dictionaries and grammars into the language lab, now they willingly make use of the excellent authentic foreign language reference sources. To illustrate the value of these references in understanding the cultural implication of seemingly equivalent terms in two languages, we trace through the definitions of the French individualisme compared to the English/American individualism in the demo available in the margin.

A screenshot movie (~75 MB) shows how we trace through the definitions of the French individualisme compared to the English/American individualism.
Requires QuickTime plugin.

La Grammaire Interactive Softissimo - This complete online interactive French Language Grammar Reference is recommended by the Délégation générale à la langue française.

Synapse Dévéloppement, the private firm that sold the French language proofing tools to Microsoft, has recently put online 500 pages of French grammar reference materials: Manuels et ouvrages de référence en accès libre à la "Page de la langue française." Patrick Séguéla of Synapse Dévéloppement indicated in his personal email informing the author of the availability of this site, 16 January 2001, that: "This part of the site is 0% commercial…. We here explain all the rules that are quite complicated for anybody writing or trying to write French." The explanations (in French) would appear to be particularly helpful for intermediate level American students of French. See, for example, the page on subordinate clauses.

An external link to La Grammaire Interactive Softissimo.

An external link to the Délégation générale à la langue française.

External links to Synapse Dévéloppement:
Manuels et ouvrages de référence en accès libre à la "Page de la langue française,"
Subordinate clauses.

While no Grand Larousse, the free Atlas French Web Encyclopedia, WebEncyclo, will serve students well as an authentic French reference tool and keep them "within the target language."

Students and faculty can instantly consult Hachette's free online universal Francophone dictionary to verify and/or explore deeper semantic meaning in Le Dictionnaire Universel Francophone En Ligne.

An external link to WebEncyclo: l'encyclopédie gratuite.

An external link to Le Dictionnaire Universel Francophone En Ligne.

Upper and graduate level French students as well as faculty appreciate the old standby Dictionary of Synonyms, especially since the recent correction and refinement process under the auspices of the French CNRS.

 For definitions, translations, conjugations and terminology research one can even download (or consult online, of course) the new terminology dictionary of the Quebec Office de la langue française, Le Grand Dictionnaire Terminologique. Note here, by way of illustration, the extensive terminology listings for conscience.

External links to Dictionary of Synonyms,
Direct search for more refined word choices.

CNRS: Centre National de Recherches Scientifiques

An external link to GDT (Le Grand Dictionnaire Terminologique).

In a class by itself is the new digitized version of the INaLF French Language dictionary, Le Nouveau Trésor de la langue française INFORMATISÉ. This "most marvelous of all French dictionaries," the fruit of the long-term ARTFL Franco-American cooperative project, is now freely accessible on the Web and provides a superb research tool for scholars and students in all areas of French studies.

The ARTFL project is the cooperative project established in 1981 by the Centre national de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) and the University of Chicago, which grew out of the French government's project, initiated in 1957, to create a new dictionary of the French language, Le Trésor de la Langue Française.

INLF: Institut National de la Langue Française

An external link to Le Nouveau Trésor de la langue française INFORMATISÉ.

An external link to ARTFL - 2000 Texts/ 13th-20th Centuries.

5. Electronic Text and Multimedia Resources for Target Language Literature, History, Art, and Contemporary Culture

High speed Internet capabilities, fast computers, and the latest multimedia technologies are giving students and faculty wider access to an increasing array of quality foreign language literature, cultural heritage, and contemporary society resources.

5.1 New and improved collections of digitized literary classics and pedagogical resources are appearing in Web-wise faculty online course support pages. These instantly available Web offerings enable a broader range of authentic materials and greatly reduce the textbook cost to students. Links to already well-known online collections, as well as literature resources categorized by literary period, can be found at the Bibliothèque du quartier français in Répertoires: Littérature et Civilisation Françaises. Highlighted below are some recent updates or exciting new electronic resources.

At Radio France BIBLIOPOLIS Biblionet: Les Classiques de la Littérature française en texte intégral, a search tool makes it possible to look up a word, an expression, or a sentence in the complete texts of the classics of French literature, or to access the texts themselves by using either the alphabetized list of authors or titles of their works.

An external link to Bibliothèque du quartier français, Répertoires: Littérature et Civilisation Françaises.



An external link to Radio France BIBLIOPOLIS Biblionet: Les Classiques de la Littérature française en texte intégral.

Michel Bernard, Université de la Sorbonne-Nouvelle (Paris III) Centre de recherches Hubert de Phalèse, announced in a LITOR post on 16 January 2001 that La bibliothèque Mazarine just opened its Web site. Library treasures abound, such as pages from La Bible de Gutenberg or posters from the "mazarinades” and, above all, the catalogue. Oeuvres/textes littéraires contains a valuable collection of downloadable complete works of French literature.

An external link to La bibliothèque Mazarine.


An external link to Oeuvres/ textes littéraires.


A recently revised and updated medieval theater treasure is MENESTREL: La page du Théâtre Médiéval du Centre d'études des textes Médiévaux/Rennes2.

Likewise, Le Théâtre de la Foire à Paris contains Barry Russell's growing collection of "textes et documents du théatre sous L'Ancien Régime." The Menu of this respected resource for texts and documents of the theater under the Ancien Régime includes 1.Théâtres 2. Scénographie 3. Administration 4. Relations sociales 5. Troupes 6. Relations artistiques 7. Pièces 8. Biographies 9. Iconographie 10. Glossaire 11. Bibliographie 12. Chronologie 13. Divers. There is also the Calendrier des Spectacles sous L'Ancien Régime and a link to Les Spectacles de la Foire par Émile Compardon.

An external link to MENESTREL: - La page du Théâtre Médiéval du Centre d'études des textes.


External links to:
Le Théâtre de la Foire à Paris,
Calendrier des Spectacles sous L'Ancien Régime
Les Spectacles de la Foire

BÉRÉNICE: les écrans DU THÉÂTRE, a new pedagogical initiative of the CNDP (Centre National de Documentation Pédagogique), illustrates how new technology can enhance instruction as well as promote universal appreciation of the cultural heritage of the French civilization. BÉRÉNICE is the Web dossier for the recently televised version of this classic tragedy by Racine. It includes images plus streaming sound and video clips from the film documentary, an instructional manual in PDF, and communication opportunities for students to correspond via email with the actors and producers as well as to share their ideas in the forum. Here are two examples, the first giving access to sound and the second to video clips from the film documentary:

  • Les personnages et leurs relations – Evoking the particular role and the interrelationships among the characters of the play, each of the actors of the filmed play discusses the Racinian universe, and
  • Bérénice et son décor – Video clips showing stage-settings for the production.

The site of the Société canadienne d'étude du dix-huitième siècle illustrates the valuable repertoires offered by the international literary period societies, in this case the Canadian Society for 18th Century Studies.

External links to CNDP:
An instructor's manual in PDF
Les personnages et leurs relations,
Bérénice et son décor






An external link to Société canadienne d'étude du dix-huitième siècle.

For faculty specializing in 19th century, Le XIXème siècle littéraire et artistique sur Internet, created by Marianne Pernoo-Bécache, is the definitive 19th Century French literature and art resource.

This new Académie de Rouen pedagogical site, Le Romantisme: Un mouvement littéraire et culturel du XIX siècle, created by Danielle Girard, provides an excellent argument for Web-enhanced literary study. Featured here is the instructional unit for the well-known La Barricade episode from Victor Hugo's Les Misérables. The SOMMAIRE permits access to the lesson plans, online electronic text and image resources, and to the complete instructional sequence. In L'apport de l'informatique dans l'étude d'une oeuvre littéraire, Girard details the valuable contributions that Web-assisted pedagogy brings to the study of a literary work, in particular by enabling the construction of meaning via thematic search of the digitized text.

François Moureau, Professeur à la Sorbonne, Université de Paris IV and Directeur des Presses de l'Université de Paris-Sorbonne (PUPS), in a 28 Dec 2000 personal email, called to the author's attention his Centre de Recherche de la Littérature des Voyages (CRLV), a  particularly noteworthy resource in that it contains online QuickTime versions of Littérature des Voyages seminars, as well as 194 conferences in QuickTime.

An external link to Le XIXème siècle littéraire et artistique sur Internet.

External links to the Académie de Rouen pedagogical site:
Le Romantisme: Un mouvement littéraire et culturel du XIX siècle,
La Barricade episode from Victor Hugo's Les Misérables,
L'apport de l'informatique dans l'étude d'une oeuvre littéraire

An external link to Centre de Recherche de la Littérature des Voyages (CRLV).

Christine Genin’s continually expanding Labyrinthe des ressources sur la littérature française contemporaine remains one of the major resource portals for contemporary French literature. Among the many riches is the index of contemporary French writers with links pointing to their Web pages (or pages featuring critiques of their works), as well as their biographies and bibliographies.

Of great interest for studies of contemporary France (and also for cross-cultural studies) are these A-V archived historical documents and the charted results of various contemporary French and American society opinion polls:

  • The Web site of the French National Audiovisual Institute provides authentic photographs, sound, and film documents available from the archives of the INA (Institut National de l'Audiovisuel).
  • With the Canal Ipsos International Mood Explorer (versions in French and English), the French view of the most important personalities and events of the 20th century can be explored via the charts of poll results from Les personnalités et les événements marquants du XXème siècle.

An external link to Labyrinthe des ressources sur la littérature française contemporaine.



An external link to photographs, sound, and film documents available from the archives of the INA (Institut National de l'Audiovisuel).

An external link to Canal Ipsos International Mood Explorer's Les personnalités et les événements marquants du XXème siècle.

5.2 French art collections, museum exhibits, and historic monument visits are available as never before with new or increasingly high-tech site updates appearing almost daily.

Museums and virtual expositions can be accessed at portals such as the Musées et Expositions virtuelles du quartier français, which link to major museums and to virtual experiences of French history and architecture. For example, students can go back in time with a recreation of the major steps in the construction of Mont Saint-Michel. Students of the University of Nantes School of Architecture created this simulation as a QuickTime and Flash multimedia project.


An external link to Musées et Expositions virtuelles du quartier français.

An external link to Mont Saint-Michel.

The instant accessibility to art treasures also enables culturally authentic art and civilization projects such as the following two Webquests based on the same painting of Delacroix:

  • Peinturelle: La liberté guidant le peuple, A simple but classic Webquest (or "Jeu Rallye" as the French call it) assignment on the famous painting by Delacroix.
  • Étude des Trois Glorieuses à partir du tableau de Delacroix "La liberté guidant le peuple" from Le guide pédagogique de l'Encyclopédie Hachette Multimédia, an electronic encyclopedia French discovery project examining the historical period of "The Three Glorious Days" (1830) using Delacroix's "La liberté guidant le peuple" as the starting point.

News of another French cultural heritage site, with interesting Web-mediated project possibilities, arrived in an email, Fri, 9 Feb 2001, from Raphaëlle and Gilles Debrégeas. Sponsored by the Amboise Renaissance foundation, which supports the Renaissance at Amboise sound and light show, the site, entitled Histoire de France Spectacle, Son et Lumière: Renaissance à Amboise, contains digitized images from the spectacle, and a superb companion collection of dossiers on  L'histoire de la Renaissance en France et en Europe, all accessible from the dossier drop-down menu and on-site search engine. This is certainly one of the best Internet student resource sites available on the Renaissance in France and in Europe. The chronologie is presented in four parts from 1430 - 1603 in five-column table format:






It is easy to envision a collaborative group of intermediate to advanced level students beginning with the authentic resources of this Amboise foundation Web site as guide, and then branching out to additional resources as they research and present this historical period to their peers.


An external link to Peinturelle: "La liberté guidant le peuple" Jeu Rallye.

An external link to Étude des Trois Glorieuses à partir du tableau de Delacroix "La liberté guidant le peuple".


External links to the Amboise Renaissance foundation site:
Histoire de France Spectacle, Son et Lumière: Renaissance à Amboise,
L'histoire de la Renaissance en France et en Europe.

5.3 New era contemporary culture Web sites are mushrooming, such as the high-tech site of the French pop "artiste" Renaud, The H.L.M (Low-cost Housing Development) of the Fans of  Renaud. Certain to appeal to students, the animated H.L.M village design offers various kinds of interactivity by clicking on the buildings themselves or navigating via the menu bar featuring the Bibliothèque, Concerts, Le H.L.M., Le Bistrot (where the user can "chat" with other fans), Le Discothèque (with the Jukebox RealPlayer to listen to high quality Renaud song clips), Le Bar-tabac, Le Kiosque, and La Poste.


An external link to Le H.L.M. des Fans de Renaud.

The new French "Multimusic" Web radio portal facilitates online listening to one's choice of 25 French radio music stations featuring all kinds of music (pop, classic, jazz), just as if one were actually in France. The audio quality is superior and listening to the "Chansons de France" is an excellent way to improve one's ear for French.

An external link to Multimusic: site portail pour ècouter en Real Player la musique de votre choix.

Language learners can also take advantage of Internet movie sites like the French NetCiné, which offers (currently at the cost of one euro) online films for native speakers.  This native speaker format enables student viewing without recourse to English via subtitles or dubbed in speech, both of which inhibit learning to think in the target language. NetCiné also gives full screen resolution of high quality, viewed through either a TV or a computer monitor.

An external link to NetCiné.

6. Toward a New Era Pedagogy for Bi- and Cross-Cultural Literacy

Web-mediated and computer-assisted language learning, along with recent more globally oriented curricular trends, are stretching the boundaries of traditional university foreign language and literature programs, offering multiple opportunities for cross-cultural communication, and enabling a promising new pedagogy.


6.1 Target language university student forums and newsgroups, in addition to those on academic and administrative sites and those of the social discussion groups and exchanges available at the Café électronique du Quartier français, provide meaningful communication opportunities for language students.  The recently created higher education student sites add serious cross-cultural academic discussion possibilities, as indicated in the sampling below:

  • Histoforums, French history newsgroup discussion forums created and maintained by French political science students. See, for example, the Forum Révolution française et Ier Empire de Histoforums.
  • BIBelec Bibliothèque Electronique des Étudiants, "the first" French university students' library of student papers and course discussion forums), including one on the Middle Ages.
  • Newsgroups and Dialogues Foorum: University level student-created and maintained discussion groups in French.


An external link to the author's Café électronique du Quartier français.

External links to Histoforums site:
Example: Forum Révolution française et Ier Empire de Histoforums"

External links to BIBelec Bibliothèque Electronique des Étudiants site:
BIBelec Bibliothèque Electronique des Étudiants,
Example: Middle Ages

An external link to Newsgroups and Dialogues Foorum.

6.2 The on-going MIT CULTURA Project breaks new ground with the deliberate approach in using Internet-mediated communication in the development of cross-cultural literacy. Originated in 1997 by Gilberte Furstenberg, Sabine Levet, Kathryn English, and Katherine Maillet, CULTURA is the National Endowment for the Humanities funded collaborative project of MIT Foreign Languages and Literatures, the French Institut National des Télécommunications, and the Consortium for Language Learning and Teaching.


An external link to the CULTURA Project.

As the abstract of their article in Language Learning and Technology [Furstenberg et al. 2001] clearly indicates, this project, focused on the “pedagogy of the electronic media, …shows a concrete and dynamic way in which the Web can be used to foster understanding between American and French students. It offers learners (and teachers alike) on both sides of the Atlantic a unique comparative, cross-cultural approach for gradually constructing knowledge of other values, attitudes and beliefs, in an ever-enlarging construction of the foreign culture.”

Discussing their methodology, the authors emphasize that it “requires a new pedagogy, …an interactive process that comes about via the exchange of diverse materials -- raw or mediated -- by multiple partners: learners, teachers, other students, other teachers, and experts.” Through the carefully planned five stage cultural learning sequence, and accompanied by the skillful guidance of the teacher, students are enabled “to gradually construct and refine their own understanding of the other culture, in a continuous and never-ending process.”

The new pedagogy features of the program include the culturally oriented syllabus for linguistic and cultural growth, the Web-based cross-cultural communication medium, the authentic materials, the collaborative process-oriented learning environment, the totally engaged students, the teacher as the architect of  "true constructivist teaching" and facilitator of the learning experience, the "guide rope" methodology, the varied evaluation tools, and the positive outcome of student growth toward bi-lingual and bi-cultural literacy.

6.3 Gisela Hoecherl-Alden, in an article in Foreign Language Annals [Hoescherl-Alden 2000], echoes the Cultura belief that 21st century graduates will need to possess a deeper understanding of other cultures, arguing that challenging students to get inside the  mentality of the target culture should be among the main goals of foreign language instruction. To that end, she initiated the content-based, Web-enhanced cross-cultural language curriculum project at the University of Pittsburgh described in the article.

Convinced that “technology-enhanced course content based on current media output helps students grasp culture as a multifaceted, highly complex construct that influences people's ideals and aspirations, values, beliefs, and especially language,” she proposes that university foreign language departments adopt a curricular sequence which enables global-minded business school students to learn along with the traditional humanities majors.

Rethinking the curriculum within the confines of a traditional language department, explains Hoecherl-Aldan, “entails providing the students with a basis for communication combined with the tools to make sense of authentic materials [both in print and on the Web] at the elementary level," or, in other words, the very type of Web-enhanced, communication-oriented experience detailed in Spielmann's Beginner's Guide, and probably already in effect in most university language departments.

At the intermediate level, however, Hoecherl-Alden adds a content-based, Web-mediated, cultural history component. "Factual, historical, literary, political, and social knowledge of the target culture, alongside the students' ever-evolving linguistic and cultural proficiency," she asserts, "will adequately prepare them to branch out into more specialized course content and to communicate and read for in-depth understanding -- be it in a professional field or in the Humanities."

From her experience, Hoecherl-Aldan grants that without an internship or study abroad, such students might not attain the near-native fluency necessary to negotiate international contracts, but she concludes that "they will be, however, prepared to embark on a life-long learning process ... [and] will have acquired the tools necessary to communicate in culturally appropriate ways in a variety of situations."

An external link to the abstract of the article of CULTURA Project in Language Learning and Technology.

7. In Conclusion

In this 21st century, America’s young people are eager to become better acquainted with their planetary neighbors. They want to be able to speak their language so that they can communicate with and learn from them. They embody the spirit of the Information Age and thrive on programs which give them opportunities for meaningful online communication and information gathering from authentic sources. Such learning activities increase their interest and give them self-confidence in using their linguistic and cultural skills as they prepare for increasing cross-cultural encounters and careers in the global community.

The secret for the continuing success of American university language programs lies, as always, in fueling the students’ natural motivation to know another culture and speak another language. Electronic media are enabling the emergence of a new Web-mediated language pedagogy in which students are totally engaged in the construction of knowledge about other peoples, cultures and languages while simultaneously increasing their target language proficiency.

Why is this new Internet-mediated language pedagogy so effective?  Because it is motivating. Why is it motivating? Because it feeds the students’ natural desire and curiosity to learn more about others.

This paper’s overview of the current state of electronically-assisted foreign language learning should make it evident that the ever-improving information and communication technologies are a means of enabling more effective language learning. In turn, effective language learning and increased cross-cultural awareness ensure the survival of foreign language programs as part of the liberal arts mission of the American universities.

Thanks to these new technology trends, university foreign language learning is indeed alive, well, and ready to tackle the challenges of this new millennium.

8. References

Furstenberg, G., Levet, S., English, Kathryn, & Maillet, Katherine. (2001). Giving a Virtual Voice to the Silent Language of  Culture. Language Learning and Technology 5.1. January 2001. pp. 55-102.

Hoecherl-Alden, Gisela. (2000). Turning Professional: Content-based Communication and the Evolution of a  Cross-Cultural Language Curriculum. Foreign Language Annals 33.6, November-December 2000. American Council of Teachers of Foreign Languages. Allen Press, Inc., Lawrence, KA, pp. 614-621.

Paulsen, J. (1996). Making Foreign Language Study REAL via the WWW Global Village. In Warschauer, Mark, ed. Virtual Connections: Online Activities and Projects for Networking Language Learners. Ed. M. Warschauer.  Honolulu, Hawaii: University of Hawaii Press. January,  pp. 318-320.

Paulsen, J. (2000). New Technologies for the 21st Century Foreign Language Classroom, ASCD Curriculum-Technology Quarterly 10.2. Winter 2000, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, Alexandria, VA, pp. 1-4.

Schneider, Alison. Adios to Language Courses: A University Plans to Promote Languages by Killing Its Language Department. The Chronicle of Higher Education. March 9, 2001. p. A14.

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IMEJ multimedia team member assigned to this paper Yue-Ling Wong