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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).
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.