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Online modern language teaching methods course

Readers may already be familiar with the excellent Français Interactif from the University of Texas. Well, they have produced another outstanding resource and I thoroughly recommend this online training course for modern foreign language teachers. It consists of a series of modules in the form of discussion points and short videos. Many of the main issues facing language teachers are dealt with with an emphasis on the practical rather than the theoretical. The videos are snippets of lessons or seminars. Modules include the teaching of speaking, listening, reading and writing. There are also modules on, for example, assessment and culture. Modules are supported by further references which have an American bias.

The site is clear, easy to navigate and uses both Flash and Quicktime for video, so is accessible to ipad users.

I have just spent half an hour browsing the course and can see how it could be used not only for trainee teachers, but also for staff development. There are some controversial claims made in there regarding methodology, for instance, so you could take a video and then use it as a basis for discussion.

I came across one telling section on the use of technology to help us make up for the lack of classroom time we are given. It is reckoned to require 500 hours to reach an intermediate level in a "category 2" language like French, Spanish or German. Chinese, a "category 4" language is said to require 1000 hours to get to that same level. One for the Mandarin enthusiasts to think about there!

European teachers will detect some differences in terminology and a bias towards American resources (not unusual in the US language teachinh community, but this is not necessarily a bad thing as it gets us thinking differently.

We should be seeing more of this type of initiative online. It's a great advert for Austin.

All in all it's a tremendous initiative, professionally executed.


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