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The role of MOOCs in foreign language learning: laying the foundations

In the last few years, Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) have burst onto the scene and will surely play an important role in Foreign Language Teaching and Learning in the future.

This presentation analyses the design, implementation and evaluation of a large scale MOOC for language learning recently implemented at the Spanish National Distance and Learning University (UNED) in Spain. This course was designed for the teaching/learning of English vocabulary that would eventually let independent Spanish mother tongue speakers read short texts in English. Course participants were equipped with, and trained in, learning strategies that would enable them to continue learning vocabulary in a self-directed framework.

Information, both qualitative and quantitative, was gathered from course participants related to different aspects of their learning experience and their assimilation of the course contents.

The feedback on this experience with MOOCs in the field of English as a Foreign Language (EFL) helped in: (a) getting to know the personal and linguistic profiles of course participants and their potential interests; (b) analysing students’ performance in this type of distance learning course; (c) obtaining feedback that would help to lay the foundations of this resource for Language Learning from the point of view of course designers and facilitators,

Apart from presenting the outcomes of the study briefly described above, both in terms of students’ results and course designer’s experience, in this presentation a map of the terrain of foreign language learning and MOOCs is provided, and an agenda for prospective studies is outlined.


Rubén Chacón-Beltrán    
Dpto. Filologías Extranjeras
UNED-Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia

Dr. Rubén Chacón-Beltrán is Associate Professor at the Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia in Madrid, Spain, where he teaches undergraduate courses in English as a Foreign Language and Sociolinguistics, and graduate seminars in Bilingualism and Language Policy. He has extensively worked in the fields of Materials Design and the use of New Technologies for Foreign Language Learning and Teaching.


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