Students learn languages in real-life situations: meeting people who speak other languages, reading signs when abroad, writing emails, searching online or asking for information from businesses in other countries. The Centre for Modern Languages uses a teaching methodology based on action and interaction, while making sure students study the underlying grammar.
With a desire to combine the flexibility of e-learning with quality of academic teaching, the UOC has adapted this methodology to the online environment. The main pillars of language teaching at the UOC are oral and written activities that students carry out individually and with their classmates. The organization of the course ensures that everyone can work at their own pace, and wherever and whenever they want.
The Centre for Modern Languages’ research focuses on the teacher’s role in an online environment and the development of oral expression and interaction activities. The results have been published in the field’s leading journals, including ReCALL, Calico Journal and Computer Assisted Language Learning.
Online learning requires a redefinition of the teacher’s role. The Centre conducts research, offers consultancy services and trains teachers in ways to update practical skills, define and adapt work patterns, and create and coordinate teaching teams. The research has been performed by interdisciplinary groups within the UOC or as part of international projects such as ICT-REV, an initiative co-funded by the European Centre for Modern Languages and the European Commission.
One of the outcomes of the years of innovation and research in the practice of online oral expression is SpeakApps, a project involving 5 European universities, led by the UOC and funded by the European Commission as part of its Lifelong Learning Programme.
The project was launched in 2011 and following favourable appraisals from the European Commission it has been able to expand its scope and publicize the results widely. Students and teachers can find activities on the SpeakApps website to practise oral expression. There are a number of tools, including Langblog and Tandem.
SpeakApps was awarded the Learning Impact Award 2014 silver medal. Tandem, one of the applications included in the SpeakApps project, has won an LTI App Bounty award. Both awards are organized by the IMS Global Learning Consortium.
Langblog is an audio and videoblog designed to help students with their speaking skills.
Tandem is a tool with a wide range of oral interaction activities that can be used to practise vocabulary, grammar, fluency, etc.
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