September 23, 2013

In Search of a Successful Second Act

This text was initially published by Profweb under a CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 International licence, before Eductive was launched.

The Bilingual Tourism DEC

Most Tourism programs have one English for Tourism course. At Cegep Champlain-St. Lawrence, our students are part of the bilingual DEC in Tourism, offered with Cégep Limoilou. The program starts at Limoilou in French where there are a few courses given in English. I teach two courses, English for Tourism and Professional Communication in Tourism. During their second year, students come to Champlain-St. Lawrence for a full year to study tourism in English.

The purpose of these courses is to ensure students learn the terminology and business skills that they will encounter in the tourism industry. It’s also to prepare them for studying the tourism industry in English in an immersion situation. They will study such courses as marketing for tourism, supervising a team of people in English, preparing a package tour, and they need to know how to prepare professional documents in English.

My students realize the importance of mastering their second language and are highly motivated.

Learning about My Wiki

One of the advantages of the bilingual program is that we get to use the resources of both colleges. Séverine Parent was the REPTIC at Limoilou. Soon after she came on board, she made presentations to the departments and suggested various technological tools. One of the things she mentioned was wikis. I contacted her with the idea of making a terminology wiki that would be available for the students. She was fantastic – full of ideas. Also, I couldn’t have gotten the wiki online without technical help from Mathieu Brisson, who like Séverine is now also on the Profweb team.

Homepage of English for Tourism wiki website

English for Tourism wiki website

I started the English for Tourism wiki in the winter semester of 2010 as a project to create a usable, user-friendly dictionary for my students to learn tourism vocabulary in English. It was created by the students for their own use but also for future students to use. When we first created it, it stayed private so only the students in my classes were given an access code because we were working with posting the definitions which involved a lot of modifications. Once it got big enough, however, the IT team at Limoilou convinced me that we should make it public.

My students found the creation of the lexicon interesting, and in terms of learning vocabulary, it was very enriching. They were given 10 words each which they had to look up in five different sources. They could use an online dictionary, book dictionaries and they also had to use textbooks from the tourism industry. A translation dictionary to get the French terminology was also a requirement. These students then got to see their words, their definitions, how they had arranged their page and the photos they might have added appear in the wiki. The experience was very gratifying and exciting.

Another idea sharing session with Séverine brought about the second phase of the wiki. We added case studies to the wiki, which were a simple extension to a project students were already doing in the course. Case studies are scenarios or situations where the student would be in direct contact with a tourist, a client or a supplier in the tourism industry. I ask my students to write a response about how they would deal with the enquiry. For instance, making recommendations to a family visiting Quebec City; regarding what to do and where to stay given the information provided. The student has to do research and create a plan, which I have them submit to me personally.

Using What I Have Created

Recently with my first year students, I put them into groups, assigned them a section of the dictionary and asked them to categorize all the words in their list according to the eight sectors of tourism. Then, they had to choose the sector with the most words on their list and create a vocabulary activity such as a crossword, or a word search. The interactions between the lexicon and the case studies also remain invaluable. Students have the terminology dictionary to make sure that they’ve selected the correct word to be used in the right situations.

Currently, however, I have 520 terms in the lexicon which are specific to the tourism industry. Adding any more would not be productive. There are enough case studies as well. So I’m at the stage of using what I have so students can learn the terminology instead of doing the basic research. I’m looking at how to use these features to keep the excitement at the level it was when the site was under development. How can my new students add their flavor, their touch, add something to it that helps it expand and grow?

I have been mulling over the question of whether we should simply start again. The wiki was a lot of work for me because before anyone could post, before it was out there, I wanted to make sure that the sentences were perfect. So, there were many drafts, many corrections, and once it was online, I had to proofread each page of the site. But the experience for the students was invaluable. The challenge for me now is to come up with activities that are as exciting using what I have created. I’m an author in search of a successful second act.

Have you found yourself in similar situations?

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