UL’s Centre for Teaching and Learning and School of Modern Languages and Applied Linguistics has secured national funding for a digitally-focussed language learning and teaching project. The funding of €200,000 has been awarded by the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning. The project is led by UL (Dr Fiona Farr and Dr Liam Murray) and includes partners from MIC, LIT, NUIG, DCU and DIT, as well as a number of international collaborators.
The urgent need to address the national language skills' shortage has been highlighted in numerous arenas (e.g. 2011 Forfás Report "Guidance for Higher Education Providers on Current and Future Skills Needs of Enterprise"). In the context of the need for a continued economic recovery, language skills and proficiency are essential. Against this backdrop, and the need for more flexible support to language learners during various transition periods, this project aims to develop a digital interactive resource centre for languages. It will be of use as a significant student support mechanism, and also as an online learning tool for a number of different purposes. Within the scope of this project the target groups include higher education (HE) first year students, study abroad students, and language teachers, with resources also being of interest and benefit to others.
Research which the project partners have conducted over the past year has identified a number of key areas where online flexible support is best focussed. Based on these findings and expertise within the group, the aim of the project is to develop online resources and activities in three broad areas, each of which will have an exclusive languages specific focus:
A.Digital Literacies for Language Development: for example, privacy and netiquette in online language exchange contexts, copyright issues for language teachers as materials developers, register in culturally and linguistically diverse online interactions, appropriate language use in online social and academic communities, , online identity in multi and inter-cultural contexts, issues of plagiarism in translation studies. This will work within the National Framework for Digital Skills being developed by the All Aboard Project
B.Language Learning Strategies and Practices: for example, oral and other skills, intercultural competence, lexis and grammar, register and domains of use, use of digital resources including CALL resources
C.Transitions to Third Level Language Learning Environments: for example, managing and changing expectations of language learning at 3rd level, autonomous and self-directed language learning, resilience in challenging linguistic contexts, maintaining motivation in new cultural and linguistic environments, building confidence and affective resilience for language learning.
The portal will be freely available and scalable for use in other contexts. The contents and activities will afford integration into many programmes currently on offer in HE.