E-learning, home-schooling, remote-working and digital communication – all these issues have taken on a new role and meaning across Europe. The current Covid-19-situation has intensified transformational learning and required to move from face-to face to online environments.
In the field of language learning, the use of digital technologies has already gained a foothold. However, the use of digital tools in daily teaching practice for many teachers is still a challenge as it requires a broader set of competences from teachers. Language teachers have to improve their own digital competences in education to perform on a contemporary and competitive level and enhance the experience of their learners. But how is language teaching staff prepared to face this challenge?
Six adult education institutions from Germany, Ireland, Spain, Italy, France and Poland invited more than 150 language teachers within the Eramus+ Project „IDEAL“ to self-assess their digital competences for teaching purposes with a view towards the Digital Competence Framework for Educators (DigCompEdu, 2017, https://ec.europa.eu/jrc/en/digcompedu).
Project partners have completed an initial phase of desktop research and needs analysis, aimed at helping to inform a profile of a digitally competent language teacher. The desktop research focused on the current development of ICT and its use in private and professional life, as well as the intensive discussions gathered through the focus and experts groups, consisting of language teachers and policy-makers.
The results of the research have indicated a number of findings, which will help inform the project moving forward.
- The vast majority of language teachers are aware that there is no escape from the digital evolution and its impact on language learning.
- But there is still reluctance to adopt the use of digital tools on the part of some language teachers, who remain resistant to their use.
- This is compounded by reluctance from adult students themselves, who may feel lost when using different or pedagogical ICT learning elements.
- Digital language tasks should be based on active methodologies, enabling learners to construct their own learning through working with and alongside their peers.
The second output of the project is focused on the development of a European profile of a digitally competent language teacher in adult education.
The IDEAL project is currently analysing each of the area and 22 descriptors and adapting them to the context of language teaching as well as tasks and role of language teacher for adult learners.
The reworked DigCompEdu profile for language teachers will be a basis for the development of the self – assessment of digital competences and will help language teachers to identify and decide on the specific steps to enhance their competence at the stage they are currently at.
It will support in evaluating the effectiveness of their performance in all areas of responsibility, and determining what improvements are required. It means that the results of the self – assessment according to the proficiency statements, will propose adequate improvements and steps to improve a specific competence, e.g. how to use specific digital tools or software in the classroom or how to prepare a digital content for the lesson.
As found in the research phase of the project, many language teachers are reluctant and lack the knowledge on how to develop their own digital competences for professional purposes and which kind of tools to involve when preparing resources for language learners. In order to provide them with a set of digital resources but also to encourage their professional engagement with ICT and exchange of experience throughout Europe, the third IDEAL project output – an online learning platform for language teachers – is currently nearing completion.