In June 2014, three teachers and one staff member attended courses and workshops at the Queen’s International Education Training Program Summer Institute in Kingston, Ontario. Topics included cultural skills development, effective intercultural communication and strategies on internationalizing the campus as well as training workshops dedicated to cultural facilitation and diversity training. The training course is part of a larger project to internationalize the curriculum by promoting inclusive classroom environments that are conducive to student’s academic success. This project was funded by the Ministère de l’Enseignement supérieur, de la Recherche, de la Science et de la Technologie (MESRST).
This is what the participants had to say about the courses and workshops:
I found this one-day workshop to be an extremely valuable learning experience. The complexities and responsibilities of the facilitator were explored using a variety of interactive learning tools. Tatyana Fertelmeyster, an expert facilitator, served as a great role model as she guided our group through different activities, incorporating multiple intelligences. Her ability to seize teaching moments throughout the day was remarkable.
Melodie Hicks, Nursing Department
I think the training program was an excellent way to clarify roles as well as to network with others in the field of International Education. It was useful know what services should be offered to meet International students’ needs and to hear about what other institutions across Canada are doing. I have come back with new skills to help support cultural newcomers and new ideas on how to internationalize our campus.
In 2011, Vanier College and John Abbot College joined forces to embark on a two-year training project with Qufu Normal University in the Shandong province of China, to encourage the development of best practices and the sharing of knowledge in second-language teaching and learning. The languages targeted by this project were French, English and Mandarin. Quebec and Shandong institutions have different methods, resources and strategies in terms of teaching second languages, but we share common goals: to facilitate language learning for students and, consequently, ensure their academic success. The first phase of this project saw Shirley Zhu, Modern Languages Department, and Sanaa Rizk, French Department, visiting Qufu Normal University to share teaching practices regarding second language training during the March 2012 winter break. They were accompanied by Michele Trepanier, English, John Abbott College.
The second phase of this collaborative project took place in May 2013 and was highly successful. The English teacher’s emphasis on developing reading skills was praised as it answered an express need – the lack of skills and motivation to read Sanaa’s model lessons as well as observations of classes with feedback to the teachers was very much appreciated. In addition, Sanaa met with the Qufu French Department to discuss issues such as evaluation and linguistic theories. French teachers also met with Sanaa individually for assistance on the correction of student work, etc. Sanaa was asked to coach a Chinese student participating in an interprovincial contest and she later found out that her student had won!
This successful training program was supported by the Ministry of International Relations. One result of this program is that Vanier students can now benefit from year-long scholarships to study Mandarin in China. In 2012-2013, five students took advantage of this amazing opportunity. A second group of four Vanier students will study at Qufu Normal University in 2013—2014.
In order to further sustain this partnership, Shirley Zhu approached the Physics Department of Qufu Normal University to explore the possibility of Vanier and John Abbott delivering a training project in active learning to Physics professors. This project was well-received and plans are now underway for Vanier to receive a delegation from this university in A13 to see how this project could be implemented.
In March 2013, Rachel Jobin had the great pleasure of being selected by Cégep International to participate in a colloquium organized by the Alliance Française in São Paulo, Brazil, which focused on “L’interculturel en cours de langue: approches, enjeux, pratiques”. Six talks and twenty workshops were held over the course of three days and were attended by some 200 French teachers working in Brazil, mostly native Brazilians who are passionate about the French language. Rachel was impressed to see that at this international event, two of the six speakers were from Quebec.
On March 7th, Ms Jobin gave a talk and a workshop about the role of interculturalism in French as a second language courses at an Anglophone college. She gave a detailed presentation of three courses that have been created by teachers from the French department over the last few years, “Montréal, mosaïque culturelle” (602-100-MQ), “Ces gens venus d’ailleurs: l’écriture migrante” (602-101-MQ) and “Dialogues interculturels” (602-102-MQ). In these courses, offered to students from different levels for whom French is not always a favourite subject, we emphasize the fact that French is not only a language but also a culture open to a diversity of accents, ideas and perspectives. The students discover artists (authors, playwrights, directors, musicians, humorists) whose mother tongue isn’t French but who have chosen to express themselves in French, thus contributing greatly to the French culture, and who are positive models students can identify with. Through the works of these artists, the students become familiar with cultures from around the world and the way they interact. These courses also involve many round table discussions about current issues in our province.
Glberte Furstenberg, a teacher at MIT, presented a Web-based project called Cultura that can be used to link two classes anywhere in the world. It provides students with a variety of material to help compare their ideas and cultural values with those of students in another country without the need for any sophisticated technological equipment. This tool is accessible at the following website: http://cultura.mit.edu
As a continuation of the partnership between Vanier College and National College, Mircea cel Bătrân(CNMB), Gabriel Bulgarea traveled to Romania in June 2013 to meet with Director General Vasile Nicoara and Professor Ion Bararu, the Coordinator of CNMB Student Research Centre. Together with the Romanian students, they started planning and working on different research projects that could be interesting and feasible for Vanier students as well.
One project involves an interdisciplinary study of water quality, both in the field and in the lab. The Romanian students are already working on the design and construction of remote control robots that could go under water to take and then analyse samples. Gabriel’s visit was extended to include a visit to the Maritime University of Constanta, an institutional partner of CNMB. Here Gabriel met with Prof. Dr. Dan Argintaru, the leader of the research on water and environment quality. They agreed on a common research project concerning the presence of radioactive radon in the wild and in industrial waters. Gabriel is also planning an inter-collegiate math/science competition between CNMB and Vanier for the fall semester. Other plans include arranging a trip to Romania for Vanier students who would get involved in research activities there.