Our two guests are language teachers and share their views on e-learning applied to language learning.
Hannu Arvio works as a Finnish teacher in Barcelona. He is also working with WordDive, an interactive language learning tool made in Finland.
Ademar Aguiar is the founder of escolinhas.pt, a new learning environment, personal and social, targeted for schools and digital natives, available in Portugal and schoooools.com, the international version of escolinhas.pt, available as beta in selected countries, worldwide.
What are the advantages of e-learning for language learning?
Hannu: As a teacher, I’m very selective when it comes to using e-learning. There are definitely some useful tools, such as social networks. I am trying to figure out how to use these tools for language learning. Facebook and Twitter are real life, and everything that’s used in real life should somehow be used as it facilitates communication with students from the rest of the world.
Ademar: E-learning enables you to reach more people who are already learning the same language. With e-learning, you can widen your practice community. You can also have more teachers available. Furthermore, the reading and writing practices are also emphasized by e-learning because you will be informally communicating with others in the language you’re learning.
Can the physical absence of teachers be a disadvantage for learners?
Hannu: Yes, it could be a disadvantage. Personally, I don’t believe in learning a language without a teacher or without a human contact. You need a natural feedback, which is usually the other one’s face. However, the e-learning gives you many tools, but it doesn’t take into consideration the importance of the teacher.
Ademar: I agree with that, not only for language learning but for remote communication in general. The first contact should be face-to-face and it’s not replaceable yet. However, you can prepare that face-to-face contact and technology can help us do that. We can also reduce the duration of face-to-face contact and increase the remote communication. This way you can also teach to more people.
How do you maintain the motivation of students?
Hannu: It’s quite a challenge. The risk of motivation loss does really exist and we have to take that into account. The teacher has to be there somehow to guide the student.
Ademar: The additional challenge of e-learning is to keep the motivation at a high level. I see the role of the teacher as someone who really motivates the students to learn, show them what they need to know and help them learn. This is difficult for the teacher because he doesn’t directly see the progress of the students.
How effective is the use of social media for language learning?
Hannu: It depends on the learners; some are much more used to use social media. But anyway I think it’s positive because they will use social media out of the classroom and at that moment they will practice the language the same way that they would do in real life, because social media is real life. Furthermore, many people already use these social networks on a daily basis so this doesn’t represent an additional effort to them.
Ademar: Social Media helps you to be a writer, with an immediate audience; it motivates you to write about yourself, about what you like. And so it may motivate students to learn more and know more about the language because they are not doing the homework and studying with their textbook but they can talk about their things.
Will e-learning replace traditional learning?
Hannu: It could be if we resolve this motivation issue for example, you know the world changes very fast. E-learning will be more and more important. But we will always need humans.
Ademar: I don’t think so. As the technology improves, and it does in a very fast way, the classroom is not as needed as it was before. The classroom style of teaching with “one-teacher- many-students” is changing. We are able to reduce some of the contact hours. For some subjects, the percentage of remote teaching can be very high. On the other hand, many other subjects require face-to-face contact, such as language learning. After all, human beings are social beings.
Maaya, the global network for linguistic diversity, organizes the third International Conference on Linguistic Diversity, an encounter in which thirty international experts will participate in order to highlight the concrete initiatives that enable the use of cyberspace to revitalize the languages.
The cyberspace is both a threat and an opportunity for languages. A threat because the most used languages dominate the other ones. An opportunity because, due to its easy accessibility and its universality, the cyberspace gives voice to those who didn't have it.
Review the good practices and the failure in order to work for an increased presence of the world languages in cyberspace, especially in Web 2.0. Make people know the issues of linguistic diversity in the digital world and underlining the prospects in terms of labour market.
MyRoe Spanish Netvibes is a Grammar repository published by the University of Roehampton, London. This collection of Spanish language resources, organised by topics and levels, links to grammar and oral exercises such as Quizzes, Drang-n-Match, Crosswords and even voice recording tests.
Las universidades europeas tienen que redefinir sus modelos de multilingüismo para adaptarse a los retos de la globalización y aprovechar mejor las posibilidades de las herramientas TIC en los ambientes de aprendizaje en línea.
Las universidades europeas han de apostar más por el multilingüismo porque potencia la creatividad y la competitividad de los alumnos. Esto implica que no solo deben aprovechar mejor las herramientas TIC que ya existen para facilitar el aprendizaje y el trabajo en línea en diferentes idiomas, sino que también tendrían que proponerse desarrollar estas tecnologías. Esta es una de las principales conclusiones del proyecto EUNoM, que la Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC) ha coordinado durante tres años y en el que han participado numerosas universidades europeas y reconocidos expertos internacionales con la financiación de la Unión Europea. Las recomendaciones finales se presentan hoy en el Parlamento Europeo, acto que pondrá fin al proyecto.
Según explica Miquel Strubell, director de la Cátedra de Multilingüismo de la UOC y coordinador de EUNoM, este proyecto académico también recomienda que:
- El mundo universitario se reoriente hacia el multilingüismo y la multiculturalidad como retos y valores estratégicos.
- Los agentes de la llamada triple hélice (gobierno, empresa y universidad) sean conscientes de la importancia del multilingüismo para mejorar la competitividad en el contexto actual de la globalización y la economía del conocimiento, en contraste con la tendencia al alza de establecer un modelo uniformizador con el inglés como lingua franca dominante.
- Para crear alternativas a este modelo monolingüe, las universidades impulsen investigaciones sobre los diferentes modelos de multilingüismo que sirvan para vertebrar mejor los planes de estudio y el aprendizaje de idiomas en línea.
- Las universidades hagan comprender a empresas y empresarios que estos modelos de aprendizaje multicultural les ayudarán a captar un talento más creativo y, sobre todo, más capacitado para comprender los respectivos mercados nacionales.
Con relación a la necesidad de desarrollar las tecnologías necesarias para poder trabajar en entornos de trabajo en línea multilingües, subrayada por estas recomendaciones finales, Miquel Strubell apunta que «es un campo en el que la UOC podría liderar las investigaciones, por el conocimiento que ha acumulado a lo largo de quince años de enseñanza con este tipo de herramientas TIC. La experiencia adquirida en aulas virtuales bilingües se tendrá que extender a nuevas combinaciones de lenguas y aulas trilingües, con las herramientas que hemos estado desarrollando para hacer traducciones asistidas por ordenador».
El Proyecto EUNoM también destaca en las conclusiones la necesidad de «reunir a destacados especialistas» para reorientar el aprendizaje de idiomas y la enseñanza, a la luz de los cambios sociales y globales, y «de profundizar en la investigación sobre el proceso de lenguaje en la creatividad y las habilidades asociadas».
En este sentido, la Cátedra de Multilingüismo de la UOC tiene previsto diseñar un ambicioso proyecto de investigación financiado por la UE, que bajo el título «El reto del multilingüismo para el ciudadano europeo» estudiaría todas las implicaciones que se derivan de este nuevo contexto sociocultural a todos los niveles y de una manera transversal, y las mejores fórmulas para solucionarlas.
25 de octubre de 2012
Universitat Oberta de Catalunya: www.uoc.edu
EUNoM - European Universities Network on Multilingualism: http://www.uoc.edu/portal/es/catedra_multilinguisme/recerca/projectes/eunom/index.html
European universities have to redefine their multilingual models to adapt to the challenges of globalization and make better use of the possibilities offered by ICT tools in e-learning environments
European universities have to make a greater commitment to multilingualism as it enhances student creativity and competitiveness. This means that not only must they make better use of existing ICT tools to aid learning and online work in different languages, but they should also consider developing these technologies. This is one of the principal conclusions of the European Union funded EUNoM project, which the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC) has been coordinating for three years and in which numerous European universities and acclaimed international experts have participated. The final recommendations were presented to the European Parliament last 18th October, which will mark the culmination of the project.
According to Miquel Strubell, director of the UOC Chair in Multilingualism and coordinator of EUNoM, the academic project also recommends that:
- Universities refocus on multilingualism and multiculturalism as strategic challenges and values.
- The agents of the so-called triple helix of university, industry and government be aware of the importance of multilingualism to improve their competitiveness in the present context of globalization and the knowledge economy, in contrast with the growing trend of establishing a uniform model with English as the dominant lingua franca.
- In order to create alternatives to this monolingual model, universities foster research into the different models of multilingualism that can act as a more efficient cornerstone for their syllabuses and online language learning.
- Universities make business and entrepreneurs understand that these multicultural learning models will help them attract more creative talent and, in particular, provide them with a greater ability to understand their respective national markets.
With regard to the need to develop the technologies required to be able to work in online multilingual work environments, underlined by these final recommendations, Miquel Strubell added that “it is a field in which the UOC could lead the research, given the knowledge that it has gained over 15 years of teaching with these types of ICT tools. The experience acquired in bilingual virtual classrooms should be extended to new language combinations and trilingual classrooms with the tools that we have been developing for computer-assisted translation.”
The conclusions to the EUNoM Project also highlighted the need to “bring together leading specialists” in order to refocus language learning and teaching in light of social and global changes and “to undertake in-depth research into the role of language in creativity and associated skills”.
With this in mind, the UOC Chair in Multilingualism plans to design an ambitious research project funded by the EU under the title ‘The multilingual challenge for the European citizen’, which will carry out a cross-disciplinary study of all the implications on all levels arising from this new sociocultural context and how best to respond to these implications.
25th October 2012
Universitat Oberta de Catalunya: http://www.uoc.edu
EUNoM - European Universities Network on Multilingualism: http://www.uoc.edu/portal/en/catedra_multilinguisme/recerca/projectes/eunom/index.html
Sign Media is a website for Deaf Media Professionals who want to improve their written English skills.
Sign Media delivers an interactive learning experience that teaches elements of written English through sign language. Users will encounter a flexible and engaging learning environment, combining elements of video, animation and game-play. All learning activities are designed around authentic media documentation taken from the production process, such as Location Risk Assessments, Crew and Actors Call Sheets and Scripts, enabling deaf users to develop language skills that are directly transferrable to their work environment.The online learning tool is accessible for users of British, Austrian and Italian sign languages.
JOYN2.0 project aims to promote independent and informal language learning, on-line learning and on-line learning resources as well as to encourage language teachers towards the role of informal facilitators/advisors in language learning and to strengthen the role of social networks and media in supporting lifelong learning.
JOYN2.0 Project Substance
- Social networks will be used as an environment where language tutors can communicate with language learners (one-to-one or in a group);
- Language turors will provide informal support for independent learning and/or on-line learning; will advise learners on the choice of tools, organization of learning and assessment of progress;
- Situational videos will be produced by Latvian TV as an on-line learning tool which can be used in learning and assessment process.
JOYN2.0 Target Groups
- Language learners who wish to use the communication with on-line tutors and other learners in social networks as a support for their learning process;
- Language teachers and trainers who will learn to act as on-line tutors and informal facilitators of language learning.
JOYN2.0 Target Languages
- Taught by partner organizations;
- Used in partner countries.
- On-line/virtual language learning communities, language training institutions and language schools;
- Language teacher training institutions, language teacher associations;
- Developers of on-line learning tools and resources;
- Social networks and media offering lifelong learning opportunities.
JOYN2.0 Project Tasks and Outputs
- Develop and publish guidelines for language tutors who act as on-line moderators;
- Train language teachers (representing English, Russian, Latvian, Swedish, Finnish, Lithuanian, etc. languages) for the role of learning facilitators;
- Organize groups of language learners in different social networks; provide on-line tutoring for these learners;
- Describe and publish the experiences of language learning through social networks based on feedbacks of learners and tutors.
Interactive Technologies in Language Teaching is a European project which aims to promote best practice in communicative language teaching using interactive whiteboards.
Interactive whiteboards may look like normal whiteboards, but they can facilitate the integration of new media in the classroom, enhance learner engagement, support new electronic literacies and meet the needs of students with diverse learning styles. If used well, IWBs can significantly transform the language classroom. For this to happen, teachers need to be given adequate training and support in how to use the tool communicatively, to be aware of strategies and procedures for designing effective IWB materials, and to have the opportunity to reflect on their own practice.
- produce effective IWB training materials for language teachers
- inform teachers of IWB best practice based on research
- provide a support network for teachers and schools
- bring together teachers from all sectors (primary, secondary, tertiary, vocational) of education
- encourage the sharing of example lesson plans
- promote reflective practice with IWBs
The iTILT project website aims to provide language teachers with a place to go to for professional development, training and support. You will find:
- information about how best to use the IWB in language teaching
- example videos of teachers using the interactive whiteboard effectively in the language classroom
- an online community of educational experts and language teaching practitioners who are using the interactive whiteboard
- guidelines and support for teacher trainers
- resources for teachers (lesson plans, etc.) supporting the teaching of a range of different European languages, such as Spanish, French, English, German, Dutch, Welsh and Turkish
- an open-source archive of example IWB materials
- interviews with teachers and learners about using interactive whiteboards
The website will be of value to all educators interested in effective teaching with IWBs, but will be of particular interest to:
- Language teachers
- Language teacher trainers
- Learning technology specialists
- Decision makers in the field of education