A theoretically driven and technology enhanced approach to second language acquisition at beginners level is illustrated through the description of an iterative learning design process implemented at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. The study draws on three areas of current literature: SLA/FLA, the use of authentic tasks and integration of subject specific and generic skills. Beginners enrolled in Italian language courses engage with authentic media, public service and entertainment web sites. Through this engagement, learners are guided in the acquisition of a range of language structures, vocabulary, cultural knowledge and communication skills. Evaluation data gathered over a five-year period provided the basis for continuous improvement and is presented here as evidence of effectiveness of the learning design and teaching strategies involved.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Pedagogy: Application of established educational principles to the design and support of learning activities for any specific purpose.
Electronic Literacy: Ability to communicate, read, write, compose and conduct research with competence and confidence in computer mediated and Internet environments. (Derived from Warschauer 1999http://ec.hku.hk/macomp/Session_2/electronic_literacy.htm)
Internet Project: A project that requires students to use the Internet to communicate, find, process and report back on information found on external Web sites.
Authentic Learning Activities: Study activities that incorporate the use of real world information sources, communication tasks, resources and/or organizations and that reflect real world (as opposed to contrived or artificial) situations.
Student Feedback: Comments offered by students in response to specific questions asked about learning tasks, activities or environments they have engaged with.
SLA/FLA: An established theoretical basis for second or foreign language acquisition that involves a process of input, apperception, comprehension, intake, integration and output.
Generic Skills: Skills that may be applied to a range of different situations, e.g. Internet research skills, self-management skills or learning strategies.
Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL): learners learning language in any context with, through and around computer technologies (Egbert, 2005).
Integrated Learning: The incorporation of a range of discrete skills into learning tasks or activities that enables achievement of specified learning outcomes.