Technology Enhances Foreign Language Studies at HWS – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Technology Enhances Foreign Language Studies at HWS

Virtual Chat Rooms at Hobart and William Smith Colleges complement language program

Geneva, NY – Hobart and William Smith students are learning to speak foreign languages with the aid of chat rooms that have recently been added to campus technology. Currently, the students in five of the campus' seven available languages-French, Spanish, German, Chinese, and Italian-are able to use the chat feature. From the privacy of their campus residence, students meet via the virtual chat room on a weekly basis, and converse in a language of their choice. The conversations are not graded, although an instructor sits in on the discussion to offer support when necessary.

The Hobart and William Smith chat room discussions are aiding the Colleges' students in their language skills. Through the new technology, the students are developing ease and spontaneity with the language while enhancing comprehension and written language skills.

The chat rooms were set up by Stan Skrabut, instructional technologist for the HWS languages department. They were created with Active Server pages technologies using the Windows NT and Internet Information Server. The Colleges will soon expand chat room offerings by establishing Japanese and Russian rooms.

Faculty members are pleased. They have noticed improvements in student written skills and an increase in their spontaneity as students become more comfortable with the technology and the language.

This utilization of the latest technology by Hobart and William Smith is currently featured in the Syllabus: New Dimensions in Education Technology magazine, November 2000 issue, in a story called “Como se dice “chat”?”

The program heightens the Colleges already noteworthy study-abroad program as increased language preparation before travel abroad enhances the student's experience. Hobart and William Smith are noted for their ambitious emphasis on international study and are among the top 10 colleges in the nation in participation in off-campus programs. Hobart and William Smith are located in Geneva, in the heart of the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York.