Improving Teachers' Digital Competence to Bridge the Language Gap

Improving Teachers' Digital Competence to Bridge the Language Gap

Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 16
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1219-7.ch005
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This chapter aims to examine the digital skills that foreign language teachers must have in our global interconnected society and the ways in which they can acquire them. Pedagogical and digital innovation has been traveling along the same lines for some time. In recent years, however, in all fields of education—and more specifically in the didactic of foreign languages—several methods and techniques that increase the use of digital technology have been developed. Consequently, all teachers must keep up with the times. In this light, the objective of this chapter is to reflect on the pedagogical scenario that the digital age has set up, as well as on the ideal portrait that teachers must have. Then, the authors will focus on the specific digital skills that teachers who want to “flip” their teaching process should have: What are the basic knowledge and skills that a teacher must master if they wish to rethink their practices and embark on a flipped classroom approach?
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A revolution occurred in the field of education when, as early as the 1970s, computers and then Internet appeared in our daily lives, and they both had a somewhat explosive impact in almost all areas. As education is no exception, teachers have been called upon to update themselves for more than 40 years with regard to the development of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). Since these instruments are constantly evolving, the rate at which this update must to be done is quite high. In this chapter, the authors want to emphasize that it is a question of developing technological skills with a didactic but also ethical (what effects the actions of teachers and students carried out in a digital environment do actually produce?) and epistemological (are users able to recognize the values of the tools or equipment used, and also to control their reliability?) reflection (Linard, 2003; Puren, 2004).

The current era sees an almost universal use of the Internet and an unprecedented global connectivity through tools such as computers, tablets and smartphones. In the world of teaching and learning, this has opened the door to enormous opportunities that, nevertheless, conceal some application difficulties: teachers must be able to adapt themselves to new developments related to ICT, and they must have access to the necessary tools to see the didactic assets hidden behind these developments. New technologies have the potential to support education throughout the curriculum and provide both teachers and students with opportunities for effective communication in a way that has never been possible before.

Therefore, the digital issue cannot be ignored and is always a priority. Considering this, the authors frame the discussion along three axes: 1) Promotion of digital technology: how innovation in Information and Communication Technologies are spreading and how teachers relate to new technologies; 2) Digital Didactics of Foreign Languages: what skills should foreign language teachers have?; are they sufficiently aware of online resources so that they can be integrated effectively into foreign language teaching?; what place do technologies occupy in the field of foreign language didactics?; 3) New approaches: the Flipped Classroom. Finally, the authors will propose an idea of training accessible to foreign language teachers who want to follow pedagogical and didactic developments, and integrate ICT into their practices.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Realia: Materials from real life used in education to improve students’ understanding of other cultures as well as of real-life situations.

Digital Competence: The ability to keep abreast with the rapid changes of technology; it includes the related knowledge and skills people need to use ICT in an appropriate way for their own purposes, both personal and professional.

Language Gap: The observed gap in language skills, including linguistic skills in second/foreign language/s, due to different socioeconomic backgrounds and/or various training opportunities.

ICT: Abbreviation for information and communications technology; general term that highlights the role of the integration of telecommunications that enable users to access, transmit, exchange, store, and spread information.

Teacher’s Digital Competence: Teachers’ ability to keep abreast with the rapid changes of technology so that they are able to teach and guide students on how to use technology as a key competence, so that education and the citizens of the future are in tune with the network society.

Flipped Classroom: Student-centered educational approach that reverses traditional learning environments by delivering partly or completely instructional content online and outside of the classroom.

Digital Natives: People brought up during the age of digital technology, so they are very familiar with computers and the Internet since their childhood.

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