If one were to sum up IW’s Interstellar Communication workshop in a few words, then the words, “Creative, innovative, and fun!” spring to mind. The daylong workshop, which aims to improve the English skills of incoming students, divides the participants into groups to play a competitive game that encourages collaboration, creativity, humor and, most importantly, English practice. A key feature is that the students do not know that they are in fact taking part in a language workshop! This helps them feel less self-conscious about their linguistic abilities.
Developed and organized by instructors Elizaveta Tikhomirova (Professor of the Practice, Skoltech), Anastasia Sharapkova (MSU/Skoltech), and Alexander Vaniev (Skoltech), the Interstellar Communication workshop offers a fresh insight into how English and indeed other foreign languages can be taught. It already received high praise at a Language-Teaching Conference in Padua, Italy, in July 2019.
The students form groups as “space crews” and go on missions to discover exoplanets, establish cooperation with aliens, and exchange technologies with them for the benefit of both civilizations. With each step, the participants must solve a problem in which they use English. For example, they face a challenge where they land on a desert planet and the focus is on listening and arguing. When they find an ocean planet, the task focuses on persuasion, negotiation, and language development.
Using the PPP technique (Present, Practice, Produce), students improve their English language reading, listening, speaking, critical thinking, communication, and presentation skills. The Interstellar Communication workshop incorporates the newest interactive technologies and applications, such as online voting, online puzzles and so on.
At the end of the day, each group receives a prize according to the quality of their work in the following categories: Best Final Project Presentation, Best Scores, Best Budget, Best Cooperation/teamwork.
“It was an interesting experience. Actually, it was like a big English lesson, but it was quite exciting because we communicated with each other and we did interesting and quite complicated exercises. As a matter of fact, some of the exercises were more difficult than creating prototypes such as those in other Quick Success challenges, but we had a lot of fun.” – Viktoria Sayutina (Skoltech, Materials Science)
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