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Digital Competences in Language Education: Teachers' Perspectives, Employers' Expectations, and Policy Reflections

This report informs about the state of digital skills in the language teaching profession. The report aims to raise awareness about the topic for better decisions in educational policies and in the implementation of these policies.

We present a review of European and selected national policies related to the digital skills of language teachers. The policies highlight the importance of digital literacy for everyone. Digital competencies and skills of teachers are seen as requirements for the digitalization of education in general and for the successful adoption and use of technology-based educational practices.

The report also contains the results of the digital competence assessment survey for language teachers. The survey assessed how language teachers use digital technologies, their attitude towards these technologies, their related skills and competencies, their satisfaction and required improvement, and the institutional support they receive. The results indicate that language teachers use various instructional models in their daily practice. The lack of training is an important factor that prevents the teachers from using certain technology-based methodologies, in contrast to the lack of infrastructure was not a strong factor. Language teachers generally consider that digital technologies enhance learning and are beneficial for the classroom.

The teachers who responded to the survey describe themselves as intermediate in using digital technologies rather than either experts or novices. More than two-thirds of the teachers are not satisfied with their level of digital language teaching expertise, while 95% of them believe that they can improve their digital language teaching expertise by participating in an external digital literacy training program.

Employers of approximately half of the language teachers organize training for advancing digital skills. However, two-thirds of the respondents, who receive such training at their organizations, report that the training sessions happen irregularly or as rarely as once per year. At the same time, the majority of the teachers describe the training held at their employing organizations as effective and the skills they received are applied in practice.

The report further presents the results of the job market study for language teachers. The study was conducted in 11 countries to check if the policies in digitalization and education have a direct impact on language teaching jobs. The results indicate that only 15% of all job announcements for language teachers mention digital competences or skills in the list of requirements. From those announcements that require digital competences or skills, only one third specify what exact skills are needed.

Overall, the Digital Competences in Language Education report provides four perspectives on the digital competences of language teachers, individual, organizational, national, and European. Even though there are several policies implemented at the national and European levels, only a few are detailed enough to specify the organizational details for the implementation of digitalization and the methodological use of digital technologies. Thus, this is left to the organizations or even the individual teacher. Most organizations have not yet detailed their digitalization strategies to the level of specifying what digital skills their new language teachers should have. Staff training opportunities to advance digital skills are mostly organized rarely or on an ad-hoc basis. At the same time, most teachers find such training useful for their professional development and express a positive attitude towards the use of digital technologies in language teaching.

This report summarises the work undertaken during the initial phase of the project: Digital Competences for Language Teachers (DC4LT).

Cite as:

Fominykh M., Didkovsky M., Economides A., Giordano A., Ivanova K., Kakoulli-Constantinou E., Khuzina M., Menis E., Nicolaou A., Parmaxi A., Perifanou M., Shikhova E., Soule M.V., Talmo T., Windstein E., Zhukova D.: Digital Competences in Language Education: Teachers’ Perspectives, Employers’ Expectations, and Policy Reflections (2019). DC4LT Consortium. DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.24392.65285 URL: https://dc4lt.eu/report/