Culture and location have historically dictated what languages people learn. Languages are learned by using them, and before technologies existed for recording communication, the languages spoken around you and in your culture were simply the only ones you could learn. While we have advanced technologically since then, we have yet to develop a system that teaches language as well as this kind of regular social interaction. The recording and networking of our cultures going on today give us a unique opportunity to develop such a system.
As more and more of our cultural experiences and social interactions take place online, it becomes increasingly easy for people to immerse themselves in languages and cultures other than their own. Portable devices now extend this ability into daily life, making it possible for the first time to live in one place while being immersed in the sights, sounds, and social interactions of an entirely different one. As the network continues to grow, this form of remote immerse will get easier and more common.
The networking of culture changes language instruction in two ways. First, the wealth of movies, music, home videos, social profiles, journal postings, pictures, etc freely available online allow language teachers to build immersive environments for their students, rich and interactive experiences that teachers can structure for best effect. Second, as language instruction moves onto the network, the amount of available teaching material greatly increases. Each generation, everyone learns one or more languages, but most of the instruction takes place on a small scale and goes unrecorded. By preserving more of this material and making it available to a greater number of people, we can help get the most effective materials to the most people.
In order to implement the general goals of wikiotics, we’re building two things. The first is a system called Ductus that will be the site’s backend, allowing people to build and share both the lessons that they create and the individual elements that go into those lessons. The second is a community of people interested in the teaching and learning of languages. We would like for people to have a central place to form groups and comment on each other’s work, as well as a way for individuals to control some of the space personally so that they have a place to develop an identity within the community.
Sharing from the ground up
Everything we’re doing here is for other people to share.
The software we’re building to let people build and share lessons, called Ductus, is licensed as free software under the GPL. All content contributed to the site will be licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 license.