“Communities of Practice” (CoP) is an interesting concept that makes you reflect on all the possibilities that nowadays exist to grow professionally and to assist our learners in refining and improving their language learning process.
Language teachers could join a CoP to obtain information about a particular focus of interest. According to Wegner (2006), “Communities of practice are groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly”. For example, teachers could learn more about how to better implement Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) into their ordinary teaching practice. Through this, they could receive information about methodologies, websites, strategies, software, programs and so on, that they may implement in their classes.
However, being member of a CoP not only implies receiving; it also involves sharing and contributing to others with own experiences and information. As stated by Wenger (2006), “members engage in joint activities and discussions, help each other, and share information…The practice of a community is dynamic and involves learning on the part of everyone”. From this perspective, for example ELT educators could contribute by sharing their experiences after implementing what they have received from the community and that way enabling and encouraging other professionals to replicate them.
In terms of language learning, students can also create their own communities. They might for example, create a community to overcome a particular difficulty that they share in terms of language proficiency, writing for instance. Through the community they could share specific exercises, strategies, websites, etc. Then, they may share their results and conclude which strategies work better and which ones do not.
Finally, one CoP that I would like to join is The European Association for Computer Assisted Language Learning (EUROCALL). This is an association of language teaching professionals from Europe and world-wide that provides information and advice on all aspects of the use of technology for language learning, for those involved in education and training disseminates information via the ReCALL Journal and works towards the exploitation of electronic communications systems. From this organization I would expect to receive a lot of up-to-date information regarding the use ICTs in language teaching. What really calls my attention from this organization is that although it is based in Europe and promotes the learning of languages within that continent, it is also open to share information with the rest of the world about technology and language teaching which is my main interest nowadays.
Wenger, E. (2006) Communities of practice: a brief introduction. Retrieved from
http://www.ewenger.com/theory/ November 15, 2009.
Wenger, Etienne. http://www.ewenger.com/theory/index.htm. Retrieved November 15,
Wenger, Etienne. (2002) Cultivating communities of practice: a quick start-up
guide. Retrieved from http://www.ewenger.com/theory/start-up_guide_PDF.pdf