The development of students’ oral skills in fully-online language courses

Susan Yue Hua Sun, Auckland University of Technology Part of CW12

While many people are yet to be convinced that fully-online language courses are capable of developing learners’ oral/spoken language skills, strong empirical evidence is starting to emerge. It shows that online language learners’ oral skills can be adequately, if not exceedingly well, developed through the use of the increasingly sophisticated online tools, especially voice tools, e.g., Blackboard Wimba Voice Board, Voice Presentation, Voice Authoring, and the latest available Blackboard Collaborate, etc.

This study looks into two fully online Chinese language papers in a New Zealand University, and examines how the development of student oral skills takes place, i.e., their curriculum designs, technology choices, pedagogical considerations behind, and assessments related to oral language development. Needless to say, the technology choices are at the central place in the discussion, as the two papers are taught in the total absence of the traditional face-to-face classroom and its success or even just its survival are decidedly relied on online technology.

The examination will focus on the use of Wimba Voice Board, Voice Presentation, and Voice Authoring, and painstakingly point out their strengths and weaknesses. The inadequacy of technology and the frustrations which have been felt by the instructors along the way will also be detailed and discussed. Finally, commentary is made with regard to the latest available online tool – Blackboard Collaborate in Blackboard Learn.

This study concludes that through careful design and use of online voice tools such Voice Board and Voice Presentation, students’ oral skills can be well-developed in total-online language courses.

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