TEACHER TRAINING AND TECHNOLOGY-ENHANCED LEARNING: TEACHING FOREIGN LANGUAGES THROUGH EMERGING TECHNOLOGIES
This study investigates the results of a 30-hour CALL (Computer-Assisted Language Learning) workshop targeted to promote pre-service teachers’ ICT (Information Communication Technology) skills in foreign language teaching. Implemented in the Faculty of Foreign Languages of Urbino University, Italy. The workshop introduced trainees to a wide range of web- and cloud-based tools within a sound pedagogical framework. In particular, collaborative web tools (such as wikis, blogs, podcast- and web-authoring tools) and education-specific tools (such as quiz-authoring software and web portals containing audio/video podcasts) were presented. Widgets were embedded in the course website. Knowledge-creation processes were consistently enhanced by means of social media within a social constructivist framework informed by Pedagogy 2.0.
As part of their final exam, pre-service teachers were required to plan, devise and implement foreign language teaching lessons using a wide range of new technologies and Web 2.0 tools in particular. Trainees experimented extensively with digital tools in foreign language teaching in a professional development perspective. After teaching their lessons, pre-service teachers received face-to-face feedback from their teacher trainer and peers. Furthermore, in order for trainees to become effective reflective practitioners, they were provided with written feedback from their colleagues by means of online questionnaires. Pre-service teachers thus had the opportunity to compare their peers’ evaluations with their own perceptions, further promoting reflective teaching.
Data for the present research were gathered through a final questionnaire administered to trainees upon completion of the workshop. The questionnaire was targeted to collect pre-service teachers’ perceptions and beliefs about the effectiveness of emerging technologies in foreign language teaching. Data obtained were analyzed to evaluate the impact of technology-enhanced teaching in foreign language teacher training. The overall positive outcome of the workshop revealed how highly motivating, engaging, and challenging CALL teaching was for trainees. Furthermore, pre-service teachers experienced web classroom applications as an opportunity to be creative and flexible while effectively catering for digital-age students’ needs and expectations.