What is the Rainbow Village Project?

The “Rainbow village” project

          Motto : “a rainbow nation at peace with itself and the world” Nelson Mandela

 How about joining our “Rainbow village” where students from France, Greece, Italy, Poland, Romania, Turkey, Slovakia and the United Kingdom will learn to live together and share their experiences? The languages used will be English and French.

Through the etwinning platform, students will first get to know each other, discuss every day life topics and compare their customs with their European counterparts.
This data will then be used to create a virtual village that will be a "mixture" of cultures where students will 1) assume new identities (physical description, character, likes and dislikes ...), 2) write a physical description of their ideal village, 3) decide upon an emblem, a national anthem and common laws. Events could take place in this village and the participants will react to them and thus interact. Their creations will be collected in this blog, specially designed for the project. The students could communicate through either emails or videoconferencing. In parallel, specially designed teaching material will be made available for the students (with a special focus on the teaching of cognitive and metacognitive strategies) on a learning platform at Nancy university or on the virtual etwinning space. Finally, the teachers and students will share their impressions of the project.

Aims and objectives

The aims and objectives of this project are manifold :
educational :
- to develop the students' intercultural competence by 1) providing them with a glimpse of values, lifestyles and customs different from theirs, b) helping them acquire intercultural knowledge so that they can effectively interact in every day situations and c) having them express their emotions, feelings and way of looking at the world
- to sensibilize students to “education to citizenship” by 1) helping students to understand  foreign cultures and b) encouraging them to respect other cultures
pedagogical :
- to develop the students' oral and written abilities in a “perspective actionnelle” as defined by the Council of Europe
- to motivate students to improve their use of the English language through the practice of the four competences with people of their age
- to make the students actively participate to the learning process by making them reflect on the their strategies
- to develop the students' autonomy
- to develop the students' cognitive and metacognitive skills
- to reinforce the students'practice of a language through the use of ICT
- to offer greater exposure to the target language outside the classroom
- to have the students work and communicate collaboratively
- to develop ICT skills
didactical :
- to develop specific skills and abilities : phonological, grammatical, lexical, strategic and pragmatic ones

Work process

There are to be several steps that will run abreast in this project:

Step 1 :

On the etwinning platform (in the “student's corner”), the students meet with the use of appropriate technology (chatrooms, email messages, didapage presentations). They introduce themselves and discuss their interests/hobbies ...Trans-national groups are then created. Once the students have been given an introductory story, they start working on the first page of their project (their arrival, a map of the village, general description of the village together with drawings, their feelings ...). Then the students interact and perform the following tasks (see below step 2) :

Task 1 : creating an identity card of their country + talking about stereotypes : how do they « see » their foreign friends ...+ discussing caricatures + the influence of body language
Language required : expressing orders, expressing comparaison, expressing opinions.
Task 2 : introducing oneself : general background information (name/age/family), hobbies, likes/dislikes ... in order to create trans-national groups – expected production : letter +  preparing portraits of their foreign friends based on their descriptions
Language required : expression of likes/dislikes, WH questions, vocabulary of the personality
Task 3 : talking about their immediate environment : their family (physical description/characters) + comparison of the family structure of each country + creation of « virtual families » within the village -expected production : writing of wiki/blog
Language required : asking questions, vocabulary of the family, describing someone, les comparatives/superlatives
Task 4 :  sharing responsibilities as inhabitants of a new community : taking up new jobs according to their skills - expected production : an identity card - + voting for a president/leader of the village following general elections + defining the rules of « their intercultural village » - expected production : creation of bills/posters -
Task 5 : talking about their regional environment : talking about their hometown (they first read about their correspondents' hometown and then prepare a list of questions to be asked -situation, area, number of inhabitants, main touristic attractions-) - expected production : wiki documents + discussion around the concept of « nation »/exchange of flags/anthems + creation of a flag - expected production : drawing of a flag - and creation of anthem for their village  - expected production : recording of anthem
Language required : asking questions, describing, vocabulary of tourism, expressing opinions, agreeing/disagreeing.
Task 6 : talking about their immediate living environment : talking about their houses/villages + description of « virtual village » -expected production : a drawing of a house that respects the environment + making a dummy of the house - + organizing a party
Language required : asking questions, vocabulary of building, comparatives/superlatives, countables/uncountables.
Task 7: Each partner should plan at least one challenge/event that all the villagers should attend ( celebrating a national holiday, a custom from one's country, learning how to say specific words or phrases in all partners' languages, a music day where partners exchange music of their countries etc)
All the documents produced are to appear on an etwinning wiki/blog.

Step 2 :

- Both on the etwinning platform and on a platform hosted by a research laboratory at the university of Nancy (France – LORIA/INRIA Nancy Grand Est) as this is to be part of an experiment on the use of virtual environments with a view of setting up of a learning environment that combines distance learning and face to face teaching (pending decision in September/October).
Teaching material is to be left : it includes two types of documents : 1) language documents with authentic material and exercices, 2) advice on strategies to be used in listening/speaking. For information, you may refer to an article published by Isabelle Bonnassies in Les Langues Modernes 1/2011 http://www.aplv-languesmodernes.org/spip.php?article3731 as an experiment has already been conducted. The students connect at a distance to the platform and do the exercices. Then, they meet their teacher with a workshop and/or their class. In parallel, they connect with their counterparts through a virtual environment, discuss topics and interact in every day situations.
- on the etwinning platform : the teachers report on the way they conducted the project on “twinblog”.

Expected results

- creation of a blog describing their “rainbow village”
- publishing of the material produced on a blog
- publishing of teaching material on twinspace
- promotion of interactions in virtual environments