As mentioned before, Thomas is currently participating in a Scandinavian language conference in Copenhagen.   The direct reason for this is that Complexli sent in a proposal to a competition to win funding for a project.

The winning proposal has just been announced, and unfortunately it wasn’t ours. They received 44, which was many more than they expected, so competition was fierce.

However, now that the decision has been made, we’re happy to make public our proposal (PDF in Danish).

The proposal is in Danish because it deals explicitly with Scandinavian languages. However, it could easily be revised to work for situations where a language closely related to the native language of the students is taught, such as Spanish in Portugal, or Czech in Slovakia.

The idea is to create a website provisionally called NordChat that establishes contact between students in the Nordic (Scandinavian) countries and allows them to chat together in their own languages ​(but not English), both in a classroom situation and at home.  For instance, one student might be writing Danish while their chat partner is writing Swedish, which is ideal because the goal is to teach Danish students a passive understanding of Swedish and vice versa.

In previous generations, Scandinavian students in general found it easier to communicate in their own languages, but recently an improved knowledge of English has meant that this language is taking over.  Because of this, NordChat includes an English detector, which refuses to display phrases in English.  Hopefully students will be pleasantly surprised by how much they understand and quickly develop a good understanding of the other languages.

NordChat will have at least two ways of functioning:

  1. A supervised chat, intended for teaching situations. The system will automatically connect every student in a class with students in the other Nordic countries, so that pairs of pupils can chat together. The teacher can ask questions in advance, and the students must try to find the answers by chatting.  The teacher can also monitor the chat and interrupt if there are problems.
  2. An unsupervised chat which will not be radically different from the many existing chat sites on the Internet. The idea here is that students can continue a conversation that they started at school, and thus forge friendships across national borders.

If you think this sounds like a promising idea, why don’t you get in touch and perhaps we can realise NordChat together?