It is widely acknowledged that language proficiency is key for a common understanding between the EU citizens and for the practice of shared cultural values. However, recent studies demonstrate that we still have a long way to go until ICT gets truly integrated into the work of the European foreign language teachers. According to surveys, the availability of ICT facilities in the foreign language classrooms of European schools is extremely low. But even a greater barrier to spreading the best practices in technology-assisted language learning is the level of teachers’ digital literacy, which is a challenge for Higher Education. Above 70 percent of the language teachers in Europe do not consider themselves ‘digitally confident’ or able to teach their students using ICT instruments effectively. In order to improve the uptake of ICT tools in foreign language teaching, the educators’ digital skills need to be regularly upgraded. Moreover, there needs to be a clear distinction between the ICT skills that teachers use in regular classrooms and those that are required for teaching languages online, as online tutoring becomes increasingly popular. This new educational reality requires novel pedagogies and open learning environments, open educational resources, and open adult training environments.
In this context, DC4LT project aims at improving digital literacy and empowering language teachers of all levels (HE, VET, Schools, AE, private language institutions, entrepreneurs) to use ICT instruments in their practice. To achieve this goal, the project will explore how teachers are prepared to the integration of information technologies in their pedagogical work, what skills they need in order to better support their online courses, and in what ways they can help their students’ in the language learning process. Then, based on the collected primary data, the consortium will develop a self-sustained Open Internet Community of Practice for language teachers / online tutors, which will help to continuously enhance their digital competences as well as their knowledge of the design and delivery of online and blended courses. Large numbers of language teachers will be invited to participate in the DC4LT training workshops and provided with an opportunity to collaborate with peers in an interactive educational process, spreading the excellence. This will allow many European language teachers improve the efficiency of their teaching practice, secure better employment and entrepreneurship opportunities, and offer their services to more students via ICT instruments. It is envisaged that more than 1500 language teachers/trainers from all levels of education institutions from public and private sector across Europe will initially benefit from the activities of the DC4LT project.
The DC4LT project will be carried out by an international consortium composed of five partners: the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NO), University of Macedonia (GR), PIXEL (IT), Cyprus University of Technology (CY) and ITMO University (RU). All partners have a vast experience in technology-assisted language learning, development of open educational resources, learning analytics tools, mobile adaptive / personalized and collaborative learning and assessment.
The partners will implement the project in four macro-phases: (1) Preparation, including setup and a pre-study, (2) Development of methods and content, applying expertise and pre-study results, (3) Delivering training and updating content based on the feedback and (4) Sustainability and finalization. Within the lifetime of 36 months, the project will develop and offer to the European Higher Education and other stakeholders the following tools and services: