Digilanguages is a project funded by Ireland’s National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching & Learning, which aims to offer flexible support for language learners during various transition periods.
The urgent need to address the national language skills’ shortage has been highlighted in numerous arenas (e.g. 2011 Forfás Report “Guidance for Higher Education Providers on Current and Future Skills Needs of Enterprise”). In the context of the need for a continued economic recovery, language skills and proficiency are essential. Against this backdrop, and the need for more flexible support to language learners during various transition periods, this project aims to develop a digital interactive resource centre for languages. It will be of use as a significant student support mechanism, and also as an online learning tool for a number of different purposes. Within the scope of this project the target groups include higher education (HE) first year students, study abroad students, and language teachers, with resources also being of interest and benefit to others.
The value of the project was recognised by the Department of Education and Skills with a specific mention on p. 11 of the Implementation Plan of Languages Connect. Ireland’s Strategies for Foreign Languages in Education 2017-2026: Action 1.C.14 – Support for Teaching and Learning aims to: “Complete the Enhancing Digital Literacies for Language Learning project and assess how this can be used to support language learning at all levels.
Research which the project partners have conducted over the past year has identified a number of key areas where online flexible support is best focused. Based on these findings and expertise within the group, the aim of the project is to develop online resources and activities in three broad areas:
- Digital Literacies for Language Development: for example, privacy, copyright, register, online communities, netiquette, online identity, boundaries, plagiarism. This will work within the National Framework for Digital Skills being developed by the All Aboard Project
- Language Learning Strategies and Practices: for example, oral and other skills, intercultural competence, lexis and grammar, register and domains of use, use of digital resources including CALL resources
- Transitions to Third Level Language Learning Environments: for example, expectations, autonomy, self-directed learning, resilience, motivation, time management, confidence, affective issues. The portal will be freely available and scalable for use in other contexts. The contents and activities will afford integration into many programmes currently on offer in HE.