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Major research project will benefit language pupils and teachers

Dr Sabela Melchor-Couto from the Department of Media, Culture and Language, and a European team, have been awarded €450,000 by the European Commission (EC) to support and expand the use of technology in language teaching across Europe.

Posted: 11 October 2016

image for news story Major research project will benefit language pupils and teachers
Dr Sabela Melchor-Couto is undertaking her second EU-funded research project looking at telecollaboration in language learning in secondary schools.

Building upon Roehampton’s expertise in interactive language learning and education, Dr Melchor-Couto will be conducting research into the positive effects which telecollaboration can have for teachers and pupils, as they use the technology more in their classrooms.

Her research team will be monitoring teachers’ and pupils’ attitudes, motivation and competence as they use telecollaboration technology such as videoconferencing, chat applications or virtual worlds, to bring together learners in different locations.

Dr Melchor-Couto said, “We want to make interactive learning and intercultural communication a common activity for students in language classrooms, as our previous research showed evidence that these activities have a strong impact on student motivation and lower anxiety.

“Telecollaboration will help integrate all students, regardless of their background, in foreign language learning. It can provide opportunities for those who might otherwise miss out on speaking with their peers from another country and culture.”

To support their research, the team will be training teachers in using telecollaboration and gaming technology in their secondary school teaching, and supporting them to carry out collaborative lesson planning and evaluation with teachers from other countries. For example, two classes of students could learn each other’s language together via video link, promoting intercultural communication and better language learning.

Some of the key beneficiaries of this international project will be trainee teachers from major teacher training institutions such as Roehampton. They will benefit from training in this technology as the research project progresses, and will be able to use this experience as soon as they start teaching, helping them bring valuable and unique skills into their classrooms, for the benefit of their future students.

The three year project, known as TeCoLa (Pedagogical differentiation through telecollaboration and gaming for intercultural and content-integrated language teaching), will additionally involve the research team creating a bespoke virtual world which will be another resource which teachers can use in their language teaching.

Dr Melchor-Couto was also a lead researcher in a previous EU-funded project, in which more than 250 foreign language teachers were trained in the use of similar technology and over 600 students participated. The research then carried out indicated that telecollaboration has a strong impact on student motivation and helps to lower student anxiety.

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