OER for Foreign Language Learning: The Case of Français interactif and Deutsch im Blick
This presentation recounts the development and impact of Français interactif and Deutsch im Blick, two large-scale OER produced by the Center for Open Educational Resources and Language Learning (COERLL) at the University of Texas at Austin. COERLL is one of 15 National Foreign Language Resource Centers funded by the US Department of Education. COERLL?s mission is to improve the teaching and learning of foreign languages by producing open resources (OER and best practices) that can be profitably employed in a variety of K-16 settings. More specifically, this presentation focuses on COERLL?s efforts to shift foreign language educators away from the traditional literacy practices associated with print textbooks towards the innovative practices of multimodal discourse associated with digital materials.
The need for pedagogical materials that accurately represent foreign languages has never been greater. And yet, commercial publishers are still wary of including non-standard speech for fear of losing market share. Tired of traditional textbooks that represented an idealized version of the foreign language, COERLL developers videotaped French and German as it is used in real-life situations. These videos formed the basis for Français interactif and Deutsch im Blick. Since the goal of the videos was to capture authentic samples of native and non-native speech, no attempt was made to alter the language. Consequently, both OER accord a place of privilege to bilingual speakers who exhibit a wide range of proficiencies: from balanced bilinguals to so-called ?incipient? bilinguals (i.e., American students learning French or German). Akin to complete, online courses for beginners, Français interactif and Deutsch im Blick are characterized by an innovative development process that included:
? iterations of usability testing and formative evaluation; ? non-standard language varieties ignored by commercial publishers; ? user-generated content from teachers and learners.
Surveys and focus groups revealed that the modular design of Français interactif and Deutsch im Blick presented significant challenges for instructors who were used to a traditional textbook?s linear format and integration of vocabulary, grammar, and thematics. To overcome this problem, all learning objects in each chapter were labeled either by media type (e.g., video, audio, print, Internet link) or by pedagogical category (e.g., vocabulary, phonetics, grammar, culture). In addition to several hours of multimedia content, both OERs feature a printed ?textbook? of activities for the classroom. The textbook is available as a free, downloadable PDF or as a print-on-demand textbook that may be purchased for less than $30. Finally, the OERs? flexible design facilitates the movement between online and offline environments that is the hallmark of blended language learning. Students prepare online content as homework that is recycled and expanded upon in small group classroom activities. Usage statistics show that both OER are in widespread use in high schools and colleges around the world.