Online Language Learning - Icelandic

Pronunciation on Moodle

Created by Reynir Þór Eggertsson


The Icelandic teachers decided that students needed a self-study resource to assist them in exploring and training their Icelandic pronunciation. From experience, this is a central part of beginners language learning that is not traditionally practiced extensively in classes. Focus is here generally on writing and grammar. The most time-consuming part of the Icelandic project - an online course on Moodle introducing students to Icelandic pronunciation - was the technical side. The teacher used Mp3 recorders and sound editing software (Audacity) to create the soundfiles, and had to learn how to use the Moodle platform to embed the sound files in an intuitive way.

Then the scaffolding of the course needed to be decided on, and only towards the end of the project was there time to explore interesting new ways of using the Moodle site to create alternative exercises with pronunciation. However, turning away from passive repetition of sounds and words, the Icelandic teacher created exercises with entertaining ways of recognizing Icelandic pronunciation using the Moodle Quiz function. The result is a comprehensive website that introduces and trains students in Icelandic pronunciation, including well-produced sound files, engaging quizzes and a good use of the Moodle platform and its functions, providing an easily and logically navigated learning environment.

The advantages of this material is that it can be used both in class and as a self-study tool. It is an invaluable reference database and could easily be integrated into an Icelandic online course. Evaluating the material we have discussed further ways in which the material can be used in teaching, allowing students to engage with pronunciation more actively by producing and uploading their own soundfiles, or using authentic language web-resources such as Icelandic tv, film, songs etc. There are a number of ways in which this resource can be used in teaching in a blended-learning environment, and how it will be used and developed in the future will be interesting to follow.


Q&A with the creator Reynir Þór Eggertsson

1) When and how was the project conceived?

This project was originally conceived by Daisy Neijmann, but she asked me to take over the project, which I very willingly did.

The main reason for the need for this material is the fact that Icelandic has a very high entry level, especially grammatically, which means that grammar takes up a lot of time on the beginner level. This means that pronunciation practice (both students practicing their own pronunciation and recognising correct sounds) cannot be practiced fully in the class-room. Furthermore, Icelandic has very few pronunciation variations (dialects) and native speakers have limited experience in understanding nuanced ('foreign-sounding') pronunciations, which makes it extra important for our students to obtain correct pronunciation.

2) How did you go about creating and shaping the materials?

Some material already existed from previous years, which has been used in classes. I structured the course on the basis of this existing material. Then with the help of Sybille, I recorded a great portion of the material, before sitting down and editing the Moodle-site, with great help and assistance from Jakob. My original plan had been to only use this as a read-and-repeat practice, but with time I have developed an interactive section, which is mostly based on sound recognition. The material is open for further development and editing which I hope will make it even better in years to come.

3) What were the challenges and rewards in the process?

The technical part was a small challenge, learning to use audacity and the different aspects of the Moodle-site. Also, choosing the appropriate tools in the interactive part of the course. I've learned a lot in the process, and I expect to be able to use online resources in a better way in my future teaching and research presentation.

4) Describe the final outcome of your materials?

The material is not fully finished, and I really expect it to continue to be a work in progress, which Daisy and other Icelandic teacher may be able to add to/edit in the future. As it looks now, it's a 12-lesson course, which can both be accessed and used in lessons, but most emphasis is on students taking the time to actually sitting down and practicing the pronunciation. I do see this as a course which students do not really finish with, but is there for their needs when they feel that they need to refresh their pronunciation, especially during leaves.

5) Do the materials do what you wanted them to do - what would you do different or how would you improve on them?

I believe that the material needs to be smoothed with time, probably the interactive part especially, as it may be too easy or too difficult for beginner levels. At the same time, I believe that the listen-and-repeat will work for those who take the time and use it!

6) And you could conclude with some remarks about the value of this project to your own teaching.

I'm certain that this material will be extremely useful in future teaching. It will give the students a source to go to at the beginning of their studies, and will hopefully work as an on-going source for them throughout their studies.