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Language Symposium 2012: Online-Tasks: A Framework for Intermediate Materials Development
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Language Symposium 2012: Online-Tasks: A Framework for Intermediate Materials Development

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Presentation by Susanne Rott from University of Illinois at Chicago at the Language Symposium 2012, hosted at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). …

Presentation by Susanne Rott from University of Illinois at Chicago at the Language Symposium 2012, hosted at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC).

Most beginning language textbooks are accompanied by online workbooks that provide immediate feedback on grammar exercises, didacticized video materials, and synchronous and asynchronous practice opportunities. Yet, for intermediate textbooks online learning materials are sparse. Nevertheless, in order to reach advanced language levels intermediate learners need additional language use opportunities outside the classroom to develop strategies to effectively interact with authentic materials. Online learning units that are organized according to task-based principles provide an effective learning environment. Using Lees definition of task as (1) a classroom activity or exercise that has (a) an objective attainable only by the interaction among participants, (b) a mechanism for structuring and sequencing interaction, and (c) a focus on meaning exchange; (2) a language learning endeavor, that requires learners to comprehend, manipulate, and/or produce the target language as they perform some set of workplans (2003), this session will outline how these principles can be translated to online learning. This presentation will illustrate the multiple functions of written and audio-visual input for students development of advanced linguistic and cultural competences; provide a framework on how the structure of a task can direct learners to notice the gap (Swain, 1986) in their linguistic and cultural knowledge and fill that gap through learner-computer, learner-learner (collaborative), and learner-teacher written and oral online interaction; and finally show how students learning strategies can be addressed in the different steps of online learning tasks. Sample materials we be provided in English and will mostly be created with freeware.

Published in: Education, Technology

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  • 1. ONLINE-TASKS: A FRAMEWORKFOR INTERMEDIATE MATERIALSDEVELOPMENTSusanne Rott, UIC
  • 2. Moving from beginning to intermediate languagecapacity• Choice of grammar and vocabulary (go to/ answer the door, could not sleep/wide awake)• Ability to write more fluently using genres specific structures (e.g., writing a Wikipedia entry vs. newspaper article; recipe; letter, etc. )• Ability to speak at the discourse level• Pragmatically appropriate language• Cultural knowledge and intercultural competence• →more opportunities to use language (and comprehend)• 1.0 technology Webquest →Social networking technologies → Task-based learning design
  • 3. Defining a Task:• Lee (2003)• “(1) a classroom activity or exercise that has (a) an objective attainable only by the interaction among participants,• (b) a mechanism for structuring and sequencing interaction, and• (c) a focus on meaning exchange;• (2) a language learning endeavor, that requires learners to comprehend, manipulate, and/or produce the target language as they perform some set of workplans” (2003)• Subtasks: with Linguistic and Content support
  • 4. Task Definition Continued• Ellis (2003):• A task is a workplan that requires learners to process language pragamtically in order to achieve an outcome in terms of whether the correct or appropriate propositional content has been conveyed.• …primary attention to meaning …• the design of the task may predispose [students] to choose particular forms. …• A task is intended to result in language use that bears a resemblance, …, to the way language is used in the real world.• Unfocused: no grammar is specifically targeted• Focused: natural, useful and task essential grammar
  • 5. Key aspects in online environment• Intermediate learners:• Provide selection of resources to complete task: individualized →take advantage of easy mouse click access• Opportunities for student-computer interaction: noticing the gap of knowledge and seeking input online• Opportunities for student collaboration and cooperation: negotiation of content and grammatical meaning• Address learning strategies: how to effectively use resources• Learning strategies: expand vocabulary, write• Doing something with cultural content
  • 6. Backwards design of a Task• Topic of the learning unit:• Surviving as a Foodie in Chicago• Possible Task Goals: Resemblance to real world language use (Ellis, 2003)• Academic goal: Genre focus: Wikipedia entry or newspaper article about Foodie Culture in a specific neighborhood (→wiki technology)• Academic goal: Oral class presentation about aspect of Foodie Culture (→Storify, Glogster technology)• Daily life task: ordering food in a restaurant, interacting with the wait staff (→Voicethread technology)
  • 7. Language and content needed to complete thefinal task• Assessing and activating current knowledge:• Activating lexical knowledge students already have (→ Mindmap technology)• Activating background knowledge: How important is food for you? In your culture? Do foodies exist in your culture? (→Blog technology)
  • 8. Subtasks• Concept, vocabulary and pronunciation: Input text + audio+ dictionary: setting up a vocabulary wiki as a reference tool (→scribd, dictionary widget, podomatic, wikispaces) Resources to address individual needs• Learning tutorial: How to use a dictionary: online and in- class follow up (→Prezi)• Cultural content: explore Chicago’s foodie scene: input + note taking (→wikispaces; evalmaker)• Noticing text structure or use of grammar (→ evalmaker)• + doing something with the content (→ weebly or blogger)
  • 9. Subtasks• Asynchronous (time to prepare) interaction at the discourse level: Exchange of opinion (→ Voiceblog Voxopop); Requires the presentation of a model as well as a toolbox Students can re-record as many times as they want and monitor their output (or receive feedback)• GIS research task –present in class.