Language Teaching in Blended Contexts

Language Teaching in Blended Contexts

Language Teaching in Blended Contexts

Language Teaching in Blended Contexts

Synopsis

This book is for those teaching languages to adults in blended contexts - in higher, further, and adult education - where a mix of delivery modes and tools may be in use. The edited volume offers a comprehensive overview of the key issues faced and of the developmental issues that may arise for teachers themselves, as well as for those responsible for their professional development. The book examines the impact of different learning environments (online, face-to-face, telephone, etc.) on pedagogic practice and language learner support. It also recognizes the particular socio-cultural, psycho-linguistic, and cognitive issues that have to be taken into account when working with diverse adult language learners in blended settings. Research in the field underpins the chapters to inform better and develop good practice. The book's contributors have all worked on the production of and teaching presentations of The Open University courses in French, German, Spanish, Welsh, Italian, Chinese, and English. They draw on pioneering and innovative work where blended models have been modified and have become more complex over the years. The ideas they present are therefore well-formed, tested, and have been approached reflectively. Language teachers, particularly those who teach adult learners at all levels, will find the book of immense value in enhancing their professional perspective, assisting the development of their own teaching practice, and enabling them to make useful links between research and practice.

Excerpt

Those engaged in language teaching and in the development of language teachers are usually rich in ideas concerning best practice and best learner support. Such ideas have often been honed in a mixture of scenarios: in the teaching situation with groups of learners; in formal and informal discussion with teaching peers, teacher developers and learners; and through engagement with research and scholarship. The reality can often be though that, because of busy working lives, these ideas do not extend beyond the context in which they have been developed. They may in fact remain with an individual teacher or within the confines of a teaching team, a department or an institution. Informal sharing with colleagues elsewhere may occasionally allow their transmission to a wider audience, particularly if teachers and teacher developers have part-time working portfolios and bring ideas developed from one context into another. However, formal sharing may not be engaged in often enough. This book is itself an illustration of all of this in that the idea for it was a good intention long before it became a print reality.

In fifteen years of pioneering development of practice in blended language teaching at The Open University (OU) with an ever-evolving combination of delivery modes, a large bank of creative ideas and good principles had been developed. These had influenced us as OU language teachers and teacher developers in our practice, our support of learners and our development of teaching teams and individuals, as we strived to come to terms with newer and often more complex ways of teaching and supporting learners. Some of these ideas may have been shared informally along the way with colleagues in other institutions or teaching domains, but have not always formally reached the broader audience who might welcome them. It also became clear that, although there is an increase in the number of publications on specific aspects of blended learning, such as online tools or online pedagogy, an allround book on language teaching in the blended context, which also looked at issues such as the blend of resources or learner diversity, was harder to come by. It seemed the right time to bring together a coherent package so that others might benefit. The willingness of authors to contribute their ideas underlined this, as did the fact that Dunedin Academic Press immediately threw their support behind the project.

Three caveats are perhaps sensible from any editor of such a volume. First, books on practice in teaching can quickly go out of date, depending on the rate of change, which is perhaps faster than we have known it in past decades, not least because of the development in technology. It is hoped, nonetheless, that the core of ideas . . .

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