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A collaborative approach to materials design

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Title: A collaborative approach to materials design
Authors: Kristen M. Lindahl
Fox, Naomi Palosaari
Markovic, Jelena
Tomas, Zuzana
Farrelly, Raichle
Issue Date: 14 Mar 2009
Description: Many documentary linguists find themselves the only academic in contact with a particular community of speakers, stretched to fill many roles outside their areas of expertise. It may be particularly beneficial for a documentary linguist to seek help in the creation of language learning materials. In this presentation, we share principles for cross-disciplinary collaborative materials design using a case study of language learning materials creation for an endangered language community. A field linguist documenting Mocho’, a Mayan language with fewer than fifty surviving speakers, collaborated with four applied linguists in order to create pedagogical materials. The purpose of the pedagogical materials was twofold: first, to provide materials to a specific community which had no language learning resources and few documentary resources; and second, to create a template usable by this and other communities of speakers who wish to create their own materials, with the eventual aim of introducing both print and multimedia resources. This collaboration addressed various complexities of working with minority underdocumented languages: data collection, community relations, and instructional materials development based on sound second language acquisition (SLA) principles. Upon examination, seven steps in the development process emerged: (1) initial fieldwork with the community to gain perspective of community needs; (2) appraisal of available language data; (3) proposal of topics for the initial set of materials and identification of additional language data to be gathered; (4) identification of guiding SLA principles, grammatical aspects to include, and a sequence of materials for target learner levels based on community input; (5) format and design template for the materials; (6) initial design and coordination of the proposed materials; and (7), revision of pilot materials and feedback sessions with community members. Early on, it became clear that the development cycle was iterative so that multiple opportunities for input from all parties remained focal in creating materials both relevant and useful to the Mocho’ community. Our project was no exception to the unique challenges presented by materials design for minority and endangered languages. We encountered unforeseen issues resulting from both the nature of the Mocho’ language and community, and the correlation between data we obtained and materials we sought to generate. However, discussion of these issues and the search for resolutions enriched our collaboration, causing us to reflect more closely upon the process outcomes and the necessity of accounting for input from all parties in creating appropriate and effective language learning materials.
Rights: Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported
Appears in Collections:1st International Conference on Language Documentation and Conservation (ICLDC)

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