Enhancing interaction and communication in distance language learning by using new technologies [trans. by Junhong Xiao]

Hampel, Regine (2014). Enhancing interaction and communication in distance language learning by using new technologies [trans. by Junhong Xiao]. Distance Education in China, 5 pp. 11–19.

Abstract

This article considers the potential and challenges of using digital technologies that have been developed over the past 20 years for enhancing distance language education. It starts off by briefly exploring the changes from correspondence tuition to a more genuinely two-way model where learner interaction and communication is fundamental, before moving on to give an overview of different online environments and their functionalities and affordances for language learning. The author highlights the potential of new technologies for bridging the spatial and temporal distance between learners, for making various forms of interaction available with different learner constellations, and for offering specific benefits for language learners by providing contexts for language use and opportunities for focus on form and on meaning. However, using online technologies also poses certain challenges, and the article proceeds to present cognitive and socio-affective factors that can have an impact on online learning, implications for interaction and the discourse used, and issues that teachers face in online and distance settings. The author concludes that pedagogies need to be rethought and introduces the reader to three concepts that can counteract some of the challenges and help to realize the potential of online learning – the learner–context interface, online teaching skills, and the pedagogy of multiliteracies.

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