Staff member illustrates leadership in globally networked learning

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Francesca Boschetti, associate director of the York University English Language Institute (YUELI) in the School of Continuing Studies, gave a talk at the Languages Canada Annual Conference in Vancouver showcasing her groundbreaking work in globally networked learning.

Francesca Boschetti
Francesca Boschetti

A collaborative approach to research and teaching that allows students, instructors and researchers from around the world to work together, globally networked learning holds a special place in Boschetti’s heart because of her own journey as a language student and advocate for multiculturalism.

“I grew up in Italy and studied multiple foreign languages throughout my schooling and into university, where I concentrated on language teaching and learning,” explains Boschetti, who has spent her career figuring out how to best weave internationalization initiatives into language programs in the Canadian university setting.

Boschetti’s talk, titled “Globally Networked Learning: Internationalization at Home in English Language Classes,” focused on setting up virtual exchanges to provide students from universities in different parts of the world with an opportunity to connect with each other and enhance their intercultural communication and networking skills.

To illustrate her approach, Boschetti discussed the globally networked learning project she launched in collaboration with York International and YUELI in Winter 2022 – a year-long virtual exchange between English for Academic Purposes students at YUELI and English for Hotel Administration students at Pontificia Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra (PUCMM), a university in the Dominican Republic. Students involved in the exchange interacted through online activities, including message board chats, group discussions on Zoom, and friendly competitions and games.

“Cross-cultural communication and collaboration have a transformative power,” says Boschetti. “Witnessing our students thrive in the classroom, honing their language skills, forging new friendships and gaining invaluable cultural insights reaffirms my commitment to fostering an inclusive, globally connected learning environment.”

In her presentation, Boschetti detailed how the institute identified a university partner, designed programming, collaborated with instructors and engaged different cohorts of students. She shared the best practices, learning outcomes, strategies and challenges they encountered.

Many attendees approached her afterwards, seeking advice on how to successfully launch similar programs at their own institutions, which is exactly the response she was hoping for.

“As we thrive to enrich the student experience,” says Boschetti, “initiatives such as virtual language exchanges serve as catalysts for meaningful engagement and intercultural dialogue.”