Virtual Exchanges Address the Challenges of Student Engagement and Authentic Experiences
Bristol Central High School, Connecticut and Liceo Laurana-Baldi, Italy
World language teachers face many challenges in engaging their students and meeting their diverse needs. Traditional in-person extracurricular activities often come at a high cost and may not be accessible to all students, particularly those from low-income backgrounds. Post-pandemic teaching has brought on a new set of obstacles, with many students in cross-cultural communication activities that are more accessible and equitable. Gina Gallo, an Italian teacher at Bristol Central High School, met these challenges by adopting Level Up Village (LUV). LUV’s virtual exchange programs provided a solution that was accessible to all students and allowed for authentic collaboration with students in another country. The program was flexible enough to meet the needs of all-level learners.
“LUV came to us at the perfect time. Finally, we had a program that was accessible to all, therefore offering an equitable, authentic project that the entire class could participate in. The virtual exchange allowed the students to discuss things that interested them, rather than the course being guided by the teacher’s interest.”
Gallo faced high costs associated with traditional in-person extracurricular activities, difficulties in finding a program that met the needs of diverse learners, and a lack of student interest and motivation post-pandemic.
Gallo adopted the Level Up Village virtual exchange platform, partnered an Italian class in the United States with an English class in Italy, and paired LUV prompts with classroom activities for better connection to her curriculum.
The program was accessible and equitable for all students, the flexibility of the program allowed Gallo to tailor the virtual exchange to the needs of diverse learners, and the program had a positive impact on student engagement, with more than 50% of students responding to three or more partner videos.
“I loved watching the class learn language and culture from an authentic source – this was not a workbook exercise or a fill-in-the-blank, it was real, authentic language use and it was FUN!”