Resources for Teaching Scandinavian Languages in the Digital Classroom

This project was undertaken by language teachers in the UCL department of Scandinavian Studies in 2009-2010. It aimed to provide a framework for sharing ideas about best practices in blended learning, and to allow us to create new language learning materials for our students in the digital classroom.

The project was made possible by a grant from the SOAS and UCL Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, and we are grateful for the advice and technical assistance of Ian Newby (UCL Language Centre), Jo Eastlake (SOAS), Chris Dillon (UCL Arts & Humanities), and Sibylle Nalezinski (LWW-CETL).


Rationale for the project

Our languages in Scandinavian Studies at UCL, as is the case with most less-taught languages, suffer first and foremost from a lack of language materials that go beyond the traditional textbook with its audio/visual model dialogues and grammar exercises. Our available language materials are not geared towards blended learning, the use of authentic texts, task-based learning or intercultural perspectives that are becoming more and more central factors and demands in today's languagelearning and teaching. International and national groups of teachers in our individual languages are presently forming to confront this expressed need, and this project will prepare our teachers to be in the forefront of such future collaborations with creating materials and best practices for blended language learning.

Individual teachers in our department have been involved in UCL and CETL projects in the past. Daisy Neijmann has been involved in an Icelandic language mobile learning project within CETL, and an introduction to Danish language in the ATLAS web-project was created by Jannie Roed, a former Danish language teacher, and a Swedish ATLAS site has also been created by the Swedish teacher in collaboration with advanced students.

Our department is giving all our courses a presence on Moodle, and this project will assist the language teachers in creating best practices for using digital materials in the (virtual) department. Our project is, then, continuous with smaller projects in the past and will prepare us for the demands of the future.


Project Description

The project aimed to assist language teachers to develop and share their materials and practices in a group whose languages and challenges to learners are very similar. The project aimed specifically to create language materials for blended language learning in the digital classroom for beginners and intermediate language learners of Danish, Icelandic, Norwegian and Swedish.

Each language teacher produced digital language materials equivalent to two weeks of term-time teaching. The final product of each teacher consists of a collection of materials and tasks for blended language learning under the heading of a single theme (chosen by the individual language teacher) and accompanied by a detailed description of the best practices involved in teaching with the materials, the technologies used and the skills practiced. All materials include the use of  technologies/media for blended learning in the digital classroom, for instance audio/video materials, voice recording, websites and social networking activities such as wiki, blog or chat. The materials and tasks used and created are made available on the Scandinavian Studies Moodle site and made available there as a digital and interactive "text-book". On this site we present our results so far in the shape of visual representations and examples from our materials, descriptions and evaluations of our work and suggestions for how to teach with materials of this sort.

It is our hope that the materials presented here will inspire other teachers to engage in creating new materials and new practices for teaching in the virtual classroom and to share their results.