SERVICE LEARNING IN EAST ASIAN HERITAGE LANGUAGES
AT THE UNIVERSITY OF HAWAI‘I

 

SERVICE LEARNING AND LANGUAGE LEARNING

Service learning provides the opportunity to put skills and knowledge to work for the benefit of others during the learning process. In service learning, not only does the recipient of the service benefit, but the learner gains new skills and knowledge through the creation of materials in the target language and/or contact with the recipient.

Language learning is an excellent area for the practice of service learning, because language learners can help provide services and tools, such as language tutoring or written information about local resources, that can help native-speaking immigrants and visitors to a country cope with their new environment.

Hawai‘i is rich in East Asian heritage, and many students at the University of Hawai‘i who take Chinese, Japanese, and Korean language classes are there to learn about their ethnic heritage. Several years ago, Ethnic Studies classes at UH began to incorporate a service learning component which allowed students to assist and learn from native-speaking immigrant informants as an integral part of the curriculum.

In this project, originating at the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa, the service learning component of the UH Ethnic Studies courses is being extended into language learning while also laying a foundation for offering similar service learning opportunities to language learners nationwide.

SERVICE LEARNING FOR EAST ASIAN HERITAGE LEARNERS AT UH

The project provides a framework for UH undergraduate students to provide resources to members of the Chinese-, Japanese-, and Korean-speaking communities, especially foreign students, immigrants and visitors, through service learning. Beginning in Spring 2002, special "laboratory sections" of Japanese, Korean, and Mandarin are being offered, in which students have the option of participating in a service learning-oriented project.

The Chinese, Japanese, and Korean components of the project are similar to each other. Any student in the special sections of Chinese 202,Japanese 202, or Korean 202 can take part. Participating students create a service learning-oriented final project that stands as their "semester project" in their language class.

Service learning can take many forms. For example, students can establish a tutoring relationship with an immigrant or visitor, and then create documentation of the encounter that is at least partly in the target language. They can interview an immigrant or visitor about his or her needs for information, and then create a document that is useful to the immigrant or visitor in an unfamiliar cultural environment. They can interview native speakers from an older generation of immigrants about their immigrant experience, and then create a presentation combining elements of history, language, anthropology, art, and so forth for others to enjoy. In the first semester of this project at the University of Hawai‘i, students created pages useful for foreign students or visitors to Hawai‘i after interviewing native-speaking partners. More details are available here.

 

PERSONAL EXPERIENCE AND MEANINGFUL OUTCOMES

Many students discontinue their language studies after 202, having fulfilled UH's foreign language requirement. At the end of the second year, however, these students have often had little opportunity to actually use the language of study to engage in meaningful exchange with a native speaker of that language. By tailoring the scope and level of the final project to the capabilities of a second-year learner this project provides a meaningful and motivating opportunity for learners to use their language and create a lasting product for others to enjoy via the World Wide Web.

 

LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS PROJECT...

As the project proceeds, you will see more content appear on these pages. Bookmark the site and come back to browse the Chinese, Japanese, and Korean pages every few months!