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A matter of speaking. Creating an online platform for teaching oral communication skills

In this poster, we will report on the progress made over the last three years of our project, in which we aimed to create an online environment for teaching and training oral communication skills for German in secondary education. The target group consists of 13 to 17 year old pupils in the vocational training differentiation of the Dutch educational system, for whom the language is a non-obligatory subject. Within their curriculum, Business and Administration, there is a strong need for good communication skills when interacting with foreign business partners. And, with Germany as our nations biggest trade partner in Europe, it is clear that speaking and understanding German is a highly desirable skill for our target group.
One of the main challenges of this ongoing project was to create an environment in which these pupils would feel comfortable working on these skills. Practicing presentation and conversation in class can be difficult, as pupils might be afraid to speak in public. Also, for this particular target group with a relatively short concentration span, we wanted the learning environment to be a more motivating way of improving such crucial skills. By going online and entering their comfort zone, we have done just that.
Our learning management system provides ample means for this, as teachers can directly access recordings made by pupils and give feedback on how to improve in the assigments. Adding to this the creation of realistic language tasks to perform, and the possibilities for managing individual learning needs,, we have been able to move towards a more Pull-oriented way of teaching.
Furthermore, we will look ahead and discuss some of the steps we wish to take for further developing our learning environment.


Bart Pardoel    
Sector Handel & Administratie
Pleincollege Nuenen

Before graduating from Fontys University of Applied Sciences (Tilburg), Bart spent two years as an Erasmus exchange student in Germany, studying and working there. He uses this experience in his classes, teaching German in secondary education for pupils in the vocational training differentiation of the Dutch educational system. Key responsabilities are: head of department, development of teaching materials, developing an engaging learning environment to motivate and stimulate pupils.
Interests: application of information technology in education, development of online and digital materials for teaching.

Joost Elshoff    
Language Institute Regina Coeli

Joost has been a language trainer for nearly seven years, teaching Dutch as a foreign language during intensive individual five-day trainings. He normally works one on one with his students, focussing on teaching specific language tasks and needs of his students. He is also involved in the development of both online and offline course materials for the Dutch department and is often consulted on issues regarding technology and pedagogy/didactics. In 2012, he participated in the Utrecht Summer School course 'Methodologies and technologies to promote oral communication in language education' hosted and presented by Ton Koenraad.
He consults on the project presented in the abstract, providing a framework for developing an engaging environment for asynchronous oral communication (CMC).
Interests: Moodle, learning management systems, 21st century skills, gamification, game based learning, foreign languages


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