Flexibility and Interaction at a Distance: A Mixed-Model Environment For Language Learning

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Strambi, Antonella
Bouvet, Eric James
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This article reports on the process of design and development of two language courses for university students at beginning levels of competence. Following a preliminary experience in a low-tech environment for distance language learning and teaching, and a thorough review of the available literature, we identified two major challenges that would need to be addressed in our design: (1) a necessity to build sufficient flexibility into the materials to cater to a variety of learners' styles, interests and skill levels, therefore sustaining learners' motivation; and (2) a need to design materials that would present the necessary requisites of authenticity and interactivity identified in the examined literature, in spite of the reduced opportunities for face-to-face communication. In response to these considerations, we designed and developed learning materials and tasks to be distributed on CD-ROM, complemented by a WebCT component for added interactivity and task authenticity. Although only part of the original design was implemented, and further research is needed to assess the impact of our environment on learning outcomes, the results of preliminary evaluations are encouraging.
language learning, language acquisition, teaching
Strambi, Antonella and Bouvet, Eric 2003. Flexibility and Interaction at a Distance: A Mixed-Model Environment For Language Learning. 'Language Learning and Technology', vol.7, no. 3, September, 81-102. [Online at: http://llt.msu.edu/vol7num3/strambi/]