Students helping students: a learning partnership initiative for distance language learners

Jilg, Timothy and Southgate, Margaret (2017). Students helping students: a learning partnership initiative for distance language learners. Language Learning Journal, 45(2) pp. 245–262.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/09571736.2013.877067

Abstract

This study looks at the effectiveness of an intervention to improve student retention on a distance language course. Of the six beginners' language courses offered by the UK's Open University, the beginners' Welsh course has consistently had the lowest retention rates since it was first presented in 2008. In order to address this, a project was launched where learners were paired with native or highly competent speakers. Learners reported that such partnerships helped them with key skill areas such as learning vocabulary and understanding spoken Welsh, as well as strengthening their motivation to complete the course. Of the students who agreed to take part in the initiative, 72% of them completed the course, whereas only 25% of those who chose not to take part actually completed. Funding for many courses is very often linked to retention rates and this type of initiative could be adapted to suit various types of courses to help increase students' motivation to continue.

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