As part of the IDEAL project (“Integrating Digital Education in Adult Language Teaching”) – which is focused on supporting language teachers through digital tools – we we are researching policies and initiatives which may be used to support language teachers.
In an Irish context, the primary available report related to this area is the implementation plan for Ireland’s Strategy For Foreign Languages In Education (Department of Education and Skills, 2017)
Under “Goal 1: Improve Language Proficiency By Creating A More Engaging Learning Environment”, related subgoals include 1.C.1 (Supports For Teaching And Learning) “In order to enhance quality and ensure consistency in teaching, develop an online pedagogical manual and tutorials, with exemplars of good practice for the teaching of all languages including the use of digital tools which allow teachers and their students to engage with authentic language” and 1.C.14 “Complete the Enhancing Digital Literacies for Language Learning project and assess how this can be used to support language learning at all levels.”
In addition, reports such as the National Survey on the use of Technology to enhance Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 2014) identified the importance of implementing Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) approaches and tools within educational settings but noted the wide range of challenges facing the adaptation of, and training for the use of, TEL amongst Irish educators, including a lack of time to engage in technology- enhanced learning (42%), a lack of time to attend training (28%), a lack of training (23%) and degrees of unawareness regarding the potential of TEL (18%). The report notes that: “It is apparent that a number of people perceived different combinations of barriers to TEL. Most commonly occurring is the lack of training and insufficient time to engage in with TEL, followed by degrees of awareness regarding the potential of TEL and confidence in the availability of technical support”
We will continue our research into this area, so please watch this space – as well as the project website which will be available at http://ideal-project.eu/ !