HWS Professors to Develop New Language-Learning Model – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

HWS Professors to Develop New Language-Learning Model

The program, available through the Web to any student studying Russian, can be used for other languages as well.

(December 29, 2003) GENEVA, N.Y. — Two Hobart and William Smith Colleges professors, in collaboration with their counterpart at Union College in Schenectady, N.Y., have received a grant for nearly $31,000 from the Center for Educational Technology (CET) to develop a Web-based application to assist in the study of the Russian language.

Selected by the CET for its “creative uses of technology to enhance Russian language learning,” the proposal, “A Dynamic Application for Producing Language Exercises,” was submitted by David Galloway and Kristen Welsh, HWS assistant professors of Russian, and Kristin Peterson-Bidoshi, Union College assistant professor of Russian.

The application, which produces grammatical exercises in Russian based on a database of words, will be written by the Russian professors with programming handled by an instructional technologist.

“Since Russian is a highly inflected language with six cases, these cases are the principal hurdle for beginning students,” said Galloway, who will serve as principal investigator for the project. “This system is semi-dynamic and will produce Web exercises and printable exercise sheets in response to user need and with the potential for original output each time it is used.”

According to the grant proposal, the user will first encounter a computer screen in which he/she specifies the limits for generating exercises, such as 20 sentences testing nouns in the prepositional singular case. The program would then randomly produce these exercises for online practice or printing to hard copy. One phrase in the sentence would remain static while the part of the sentence that focuses on the grammatical case in question would be dynamic.

The project will begin in January, 2004, and is scheduled for internal testing at Hobart and William Smith Colleges and Union College in the spring of 2005.

Galloway has extensive background in computer-assisted language learning (CALL) and developing materials for language classes. He has presented his work at conferences at Princeton University and the University of Maryland, and earned a Ph.D. and M.A. at Cornell University, and B.A. degrees in Russian and English at the University of Maryland, College Park University.

Welsh uses CALL as well as the Internet other multimedia materials to expose students to authentic language learning. She is a Ph.D. candidate at Yale University, with M.Phil. and M.A. degrees from Yale and an A.B. from Brown University.

Peterson-Bidoshi is co-author of “Crossing Cultures and Platforms” funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. She earned a Ph.D. and M.A. from The Ohio State University, and a B.A. from Beloit College.

The Center for Educational Technology (CET) explores and facilitates innovative and effective uses of technology in teaching and learning at select liberal arts colleges across the country. CET has received funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to serve as a regional technology center for the New England and Middle Atlantic regions. Collaborating with regional centers in the South and the Midwest under the leadership of the National Institute for Technology and Liberal Education, CET also contributes to national programming in languages and other disciplines.