When the Multimedia Language Centre (MLC) first opened in 1996, it provided a new kind of support to York University students learning Chinese, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Russian and Spanish. On its thirty-seven workstations, students could access software to improve their pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar, as well as surf the Web for educational materials and cultural sites. Support for learning a second language became more diversified and students appreciated the ability to tailor their language learning to their own needs and interests.
Located in Ross 117, today MLC supports American Sign Language, Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), ESL, French, German, Greek (both Classical and Modern), Hebrew, Hindi-Urdu, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latin, Linguistics, Persian, Portuguese, Spanish, Russian, Swahili and Yiddish not only continuing this tradition of innovation, but moving it forward.
Teaching Labs and Student Drop-In
With the capacity to host one hundred and sixty students from 8:30 am to 8:30 pm (Monday to Thursday – 4:30 on Fridays), the MLC is divided into three areas, a student drop-in and group work area on one side and three Teaching Labs on the other. Students regularly use software Tools to improve their pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar; use writing and proofing Tools to improve their writing; access online cultural materials and Web sites, and in recent years, having been communicating with foreign-language speakers abroad via Skype.
Professors use the Teaching Labs in various ways, from guiding students through interactive group lessons, to setting up writing workshops with peer editing, to introducing websites and cultural activities with web support. All students enrolled in courses through the Department of French Studies and the Department of Languages, Literatures and Linguistics are now automatically given access to the MLC and all York University students.
Over the years the MLC has assisted students in developing skills in the technologies that support their language learning. For word-processing, students use the international versions of Microsoft Word with accents, input editors and special characters for non-Western alphabets and have access to features for checking spelling and grammar in the different languages. They also become familiar with key on-line resources such as dictionaries, encyclopaedias, and cultural press sites for their second language, so that they will feel confident making the transition to using the language in their personal and professional lives.
She explains that the use of technology supports the communicative model of language learning. This model assumes that if the goal is to be able to communicate, then a variety of methods can be used by learners, Woody says, "Our goal is to empower students to use the language as much as possible. Through using a rich variety of learning materials and native-language media, students develop comprehension and cultural awareness. Then through practicing and getting feedback on their reading and writing, they improve their fluency, accuracy and sophistication."
Dr. Roberta Sinyor of the Department of Languages, Literatures and Linguistics, notes that with the vast array of learning materials available at the MLC, any student wishing to become fluent in a language can do so. Prof. Gabriella Colussi Arthur from Italian Studies observes that in a climate of constant change in our academic setting, the MLC is eager to stay at the forefront of emerging technologies.
Overall, the MLC's multi-faceted approach to language learning makes York University an inspiring and supportive place to learn a new language.
MLC Academic Coordinators
- MLC Academic Coordinator, 2015-2017, Dr. Roberta Sinyor, Italian Studies
- MLC Academic Coordinator, 2013-2015, Prof. Christiane Dumont, French Studies
- MLC Academic Coordinator, Acting, 2012-2013, Prof. Gabriella Colussi Arthur, Italian Studies
- MLC Academic Coordinator, 2003-2005 (Acting); 2006-2012, Dr. Roberta Sinyor, Italian Studies
- MLC Academic Coordinator, 1996-2003, 2005-2006; Dr. Diane Woody, French Studies