One of the benefits of attending The University of Texas at Austin is the opportunity to meet students from all over the world. But now through Global Classrooms, UT students can connect with their peers across the globe, hone cross-cultural communication skills and develop foreign language skills – all without leaving their classroom.
With financial and technical support from the International Office and our partners on campus, faculty across the university can make their courses global. To date, more than 7 courses serving 178 UT students across five majors have leveraged technology to learn alongside courses at universities in six countries.
One of those courses had an extra international component: teaching assistant Maxence Leconte.
Leconte is a doctoral candidate from France and in spring 2018, he served as an assistant instructor for Enhancing French Skills, an intermediate French course. Leconte taught alongside Dr. Patricia Kyle, who was awarded a grant from the International Office to transform her classroom into a global classroom.
Students enrolled in the course communicated through video with their peers at Université Grenoble-Alpes in France. Leconte’s students recorded videos of their class discussions and sent them to their French peers, who then responded with their own video.
“The first one was discussing their favorite holidays in the U.S. – why do they like Thanksgiving or why do they like Halloween, or a number of holidays we don't have in France,” Leconte said. “The French students on their side do the same thing and bring videos to our students.”
UT students also had the opportunity to speak with French students through live video conferences, allowing students on each side of the Atlantic to take on the role of teacher and student.
“They help the other person speak in their target language and learn how to negotiate: negotiate meaning, negotiate language and understand that their own difficulties and strength can be the same for somebody else in another country,” Leconte said.
Through the global classroom model, Leconte hopes to make studying a foreign language even more rewarding.
“A lot of students think that taking an engineering class or taking a chemistry class is a lot more fun,” he said. “Taking French can be equally as fun, when you learn how to play with technology and learn how to exchange with people on a weekly basis, on topics that are relevant to your own life and the lives of others somewhere else.”
As an international student himself, Leconte knows that learning a language also involves learning the culture, which is best experienced through interaction with native speakers. Ultimately, through the global classroom, Leconte hopes to prepare students to see the world from a new, more informed outlook.
“It is all about breaking perspectives and offering new ones to our students,” Leconte said. “You know what starts here changes the world. But even before you graduate, you should be given the opportunity to change the world and given this perspective before we go and travel the world.”
Browse courses and learn more about Global Classrooms.