Apples

Learning Slovak in an E-Learning Environment: A case study

Authors:
Anna Kyppö

Keywords:
Slovak, Less commonly taught languages, E-learning environment, language skills, Learner experiences of e-learning

Abstract:

Providing a motivating learning environment for learning a less commonly taught language is a challenge. Developing technology, societal changes, virtual mobility and networking create new demands for teachers and students of these languages. Growing needs for international mobility call for the adoption of new pedagogical approaches. It is the urgency of using more up-to-date, pedagogically acceptable computer-assisted teaching programs that led to the development of the e-learning course of Slovak reported upon in this article. The course is based on a socio-constructivist approach and its main aim is to promote the development of learners’ communicative and cultural competence.

This empirical study explores the learning of Slovak in an e-learning environment. The main focuses are on students’ approaches to learning in an e-learning environment, on raising their learning awareness and on their experiences of e-learning. The initial research questions are whether and how Slovak is learnt in an e-learning environment and whether all four language skills (speaking, listening, reading and writing) can be learnt in such a context. Learners’ agency – learners’ degree of motivation and engagement as well as their conscious approach to learning – is reflected in the development of their communication competence and the growth of their learning awareness, which is manifested in their learning journals and reflections.
One interesting outcome about learning awareness was the challenge of Slovak diacritics. Students’ awareness of this challenge increased through pen-and-paper writing, not through the e-learning environment. Thus a contradiction emerged: between the new technologies that allow for distance language learning and the need for more traditional learning styles. This contradiction poses new challenges for the more personalized language learning environments.

This article reports on the design and implementation of the e-learning course in Slovak, it outlines how students’ impressions of the course were collected and analyzed

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Apples - Journal of Applied Language Studies