A Model for Web-based Language Instruction: Pedagogical Implications

Krystyna Wachowicz, University of Arizona, Suzanne Federico, The Bishop's School, and Michael Judge, University of Arizona

In our presentation, we will discuss the pedagogical design of the Russian Intermediate Course (RIC), a Web-based dynamic textbook designed as a language sustainment course, and the subsequent extensions of the course to Intensive Arabic (Judge, Rashdy) and Basic French and Latin Courses (Federico and Wachowicz).

The model is supported by numerous hypertext links as well as by on-line electronic tele-conferencing tools for speaking, by electronic office hours, by chat rooms and by e-mail exchanges between the instructor(s) and students enrolled in the course.

The Web medium allows for a multi-level, self-paced, highly individualized approach, with a degree of instructor support unattainable in other instructional environments. It allows individuals to match language-learning activities to their particular proficiency level. One salient characteristic of this instructional delivery system is that it strives to provide a stress-free learning environment for learners.

Importantly, the design of this web-based refresher/sustainment course incorporates a language attrition model as its basis. According to the model adopted here, language attrition is a phenomenon resulting from many causal factors, and therefore, the same individual will represent a varied performance depending on the topical domain.

Our model for Web for the above-mentioned courses has the following characteristics:

The template structure using HTML and JavaScript is easily transferable to other languages and language content. Finally, it important to emphasize that the course design is user rather than designer-driven. Every phase of the design received the benefit of student input, and several features of the course have been subsequently modified to account for learner preferences.