Written by Yuka Ishiyama
Translated by Takayuki Doi
From November to December 2017, Edmodo and Zkai helped create a global classroom for a few elementary schools in Japan, connecting them to fifth and sixth graders at elementary schools in Australia.
Students in the global classroom were grouped into teams of three to four. They studied their own national cultures and events, then presented to the rest of the class in Edmodo. Japanese students spoke in English while Australian students spoke in Japanese, expressing their cultures with their own words.
How did we do it? Here’s a step-by-step process:
In each physical classroom, the students discussed with each other about what national culture or events they will introduce to the other culture.
Then, we asked them how to explain it. The students thought about it in their own language and worked with teachers to convert it to the other language.
It was a great opportunity for students to learn about the culture of their home country, such as the meaning and the cultural background of certain festivals, ceremonies and celebrations that students are participating in.
Students from the Japanese elementary school created English cards while the students from the Australian elementary school created Japanese cards together with the images that explains the culture in each team, which were all posted on Edmodo.
The teacher only asked each student to comment or like on posts from the other country.
Originally, there were no regulations in posting but the Japanese students examined what they want to say in English by themselves. They voluntarily translated their comments into English and Australian students used Japanese in posting their comments.
For many students, it was their first experience with social media. Students were able to see posts outside their usual social circles. There were responses to their posts and they had a more interactive experience, hearing about other cultures directly from people living in that society.
Students used Google to search for images that will fit to explain their country’s culture. Although there were differences in confidence between each student, all students were able to try searching for images by using specific keywords.
The Japanese students examined the posts in English and returned comments in English while the Australian students examined the Japanese posts and returned comments in Japanese. The excitement from this project was much greater than what the teacher expected and the students were more motivated to learn than in previous activities.
Also, students were able to experience cooperative learning by helping friends when they struggled to post comments or express themselves.
Communicating between two classrooms with a language barrier showed us some valuable takeaways: