COMBINING A RANGE OF WEB-BASED TECHNOLOGIES AND SERVICES TO SUPPORT AN UNDERGRADUATE ENGLISH LANGUAGE COURSE
This paper describes how a blend of web-based technologies and services have been combined to support a new undergraduate foreign language course at a Japanese university. The 'English Passport Course' is aimed at students wishing to fast-track the development of their English skills, particularly those intending to study oversees, or to be employed by a foreign company. Currently the annual intake is limited to only 15 students, though this number will increase in 2015, and is likely to further increase in the future. It was decided at an early stage that web-based technologies and services would be adopted to publicize the course and aid recruitment; support a blended-learning curriculum; enable students to maintain digital passports; facilitate self-study and independent learning; and to generate a sense of community and camaraderie between students, teachers, advisors, mentors and (in the future) alumni.
With a relatively small cohort, and the initial uncertainty of the viability and success of the course, it was left up to coordinators and teachers in the English department which technologies and services would be used. They would also be responsible for implementing and managing the course's online element. Therefore, it was essential that the solutions be easy to implement and manage; relatively low-cost; and flexible.
The online technologies and services adopted include: WordPress, Symposium Pro (a social-networking WordPress plugin), Moodle, Google Drive, Google Forms, EnglishCentral (learning through video), Quizlet and WordEngine (for vocabulary building), and Criterion (for checking academic essays). The author explains the rationale for choosing them, with the aim of supporting other educators, particularly those in the fields of teaching English as a foreign or second language, wishing to enhance an existing course, or to promote and implement a new course.