Online tests

Dear readers,

I wanted to inform you about an initiative that we have started at our University of Applied Sciences in Nordhausen. We have prepared a few language and general knowledge tests in the different languages that we teach here: English, Italian, French, Spanish and Russian. The first tests (English) were published about three weeks ago and last week it was the turn of Italian. My colleague Virag Földi-Deutsch wrote the questions for the English ones and I did the Italian ones. Next one will be French.

These tests can be done by all: staff, students and guests.So please go and have a look and test your language skills and general knowledge about the different countries! Here’s the link:

ONLINE TESTS

Have fun and good luck!

Andrew

SLanguages 2012

Dear readers,

this year’s SLanguages conference will take place from 28th to 30th September 2012. It’s a very interesting event where language students and educators from all over the world come together online to talk about learning and teaching languages using new technologies, especially in virtual worlds. The conference itself takes place in Second Life, the most popular of the virtual worlds, but you will probably also be able to participate using Adobe Connect, an online software for conferences. At the moment the planning committee is working out a program of events for the three days which will surely be full of interesting activities, including presentations, demo lessons, tours and performances. The greatest advantage is that you can watch the events from home without having to travel anywhere. Among the many participants there are also some VIPs, like people from the British Council or from some big universities in the world that are looking for or have already started co-operations with educational lands in SL.

If you are a language teacher or student interested in new technologies, particularly the internet and virtual platforms or if you are into e-learning and into using computers and virtual environments to learn or teach new content, then you should really take part to this conference. Here you can find information about and a summary of last year’s event with links to the sessions’ recordings and here is the official conference web page with a call for papers and for volunteers.

To be able to attend the conference in Second Life, you would have to sign up (it’s completely free) and install the software from the SL website. Otherwise, I guess you’ll be able to find the links to the Adobe Connect conference rooms in the official conference website just before the events start. If you don’t know anything about Second Life and would like to know more or if you have any problems, feel free to contact me and I’ll be happy to help.

Hope to see you in-world!

Andrew

Terrible act of infamy

Dear readers,

I have no words to describe what I feel about what happened this morning in Brindisi. A bomb exploded in front of a school, killing one 16-year-old girl and injuring other 10, one of them is in hospital fighting between life and death. Fortunately, the timer did not work properly and the bomb exploded earlier than planned. Apparently, the terrorists wanted to kill children. This is disgraceful and outrageous. Never in Italian history had children been a direct target of a terrorist attack. My thoughts and my deepest sympathy and condolences go to the victims’ relatives and to the school children who survived the attack and their friends and fellow students. I hope with all my heart that the criminals responsible for this shameful act will soon be arrested and brought to justice.

E-learning

Dear readers,

technology has become more and more important in the last years, especially in language teaching and learning. Nowadays you can learn a foreign language using the Internet, in virtual worlds like Second Life, with the use of computer software and visual aids, watching videos on TV or on the web, etc. Language teaching has also changed a lot: in many schools and universities you can use computers in class, you can upload material in e-learning platforms like Moodle or Ilias, you can set up interactive  activities or tests online or even teach directly online using special software.

In our university we use a lot of new technologies and now, thanks to our great e-learning team, we can develop projects and use our e-learning platform much more easily. The new team helps us by training and giving advice to staff and students, by uploading material or enter data, by developing new projects and implementing new ideas, etc.

One of the big advantages of e-learning is of course to save money and time but the main benefit for learners is to find new and easier ways to study and understand language structures and usage. Through the use of visual aids and computers they can learn better and more quickly and they can use e-learning platforms to download and upload material which is then available for them online from any computer connected to the Internet. Moreover, through the use of the web students can get to know native speakers from different countries and start a language exchange.

Of course, you have to be careful not to exaggerate and always make some use of the traditional pen and paper method, especially at lower levels. For example, it is very important for students to learn to write new words correctly and that can be done best using the traditional paper booklet. Furthermore, it’s not very healthy to spend hours and hours in front of a screen, so you should always remember to take a break or just turn off the computer or the TV at some point and turn on the stereo to listen to some recording or the radio or open your paper booklet and do some writing.

Well, that’s all for now about e-learning.

Stay tuned for more.

Andrew

 

Regional Thuringian Conference in Nordhausen

Dear readers,

last week on 29th February the University of Applied Sciences of Nordhausen hosted the first regional conference for language teachers. It was the first time that teachers from the whole state of Thuringia could meet and get to know each other, sharing information and experiences. It was also the first time in a conference that we finally had enough time to talk directly to colleagues from other universities about our work. I’ve been to different conferences in the last years but it was always a continuous moving from room to room, from presentation to presentation, from workshop to workshop. I only had time to really get to know people during coffee breaks or conference dinners! Instead, in the meeting last week we had “conversation groups” about the different languages and the members first introduced themselves and then talked about the different problems they had at work, asking the others for advice.

The most important topics were: teaching material, copyright issues, dealing with internal rules and regulations, the different levels of courses and students. Another important point that was mentioned was the use of e-learning platforms in and outside class. The two largest groups were English and DAF (Deutsch als Fremdsprache/German as a Foreign Language).

The next regional session will take place in March 2013 at the University of Jena. 

Lange Nacht der Wissenschaften in Nordhausen

Liebe Leserinnen und Leser,

am 4. Oktober fand die Lange Nacht der Wissenschaften in Nordhausen statt und das Sprachenzentrum der FH Nordhausen bot fünf Veranstaltungen an. Die interaktiv gestalteten Angebote waren gut besucht. Besonderen Anklang beim Publikum fand Herr Langkopf in seiner Rolle als „Bob – the janitor“ beim Erkunden eines Werkzeugkastens und die Sessions „Exploring a beauty case“ und “Exploring a business traveller’s suitacase” mit Tipps zum „Grooming“ für die Geschäftswelt von Frau Marx-Tilp. Ich war auch dabei und habe meine Kollegen unterstützt, indem ich die interessierten Zuschauer in der Vorbereitungsphase betreute. Hier sind die Photos:

bob                  LNDW 2011 (3)

LNDW Sprachenzentrum (3) LNDW Sprachenzentrum (7)

Die nächste “Lange Nacht” wird in zwei Jahren stattfinden.

Stay tuned.

Andrew

SLanguages 2011

Dear readers,

if you are interested in learning or teaching languages, especially using new technologies, I recommend you take part to SLanguages. 

SLanguages is a conference for language education in virtual worlds and environments that takes place in Second Life. This year it will be on 16th – 18th September. At this event you can get to know new people, visit the virtual world Second Life, get informed about new methods and technologies and about free language courses at different levels. There will be different presentations on different topics at different times. It usually starts at 6 pm and finishes at 6 pm of the following day, with breaks between sessions. This year they want to add a Sunday session.

The first time I attended this conference in 2008 I was really amazed at the incredible potential a virtual world like Second Life has. At this event there are always many people from different countries, connecting from different places: some people are in hotels, most of them connect from home, others from work. Many of them work for important language centres or institutions like the British Council, Oxford or Cambridge universities. You can have audio, video, share files and material. Moreover, in language courses in a virtual world it’s much easier to practice specific vocabulary and content.

If you are interested, just visit the SLanguages website where you can find the programs and the presentations of the previous four conferences and other information. Soon they will publish the program of this year’s event.

To be able to attend, you’ll have to install the Second Life software, register and create an Avatar on the Second Life website. You can find other information about SL in a post that I published in this blog some time ago. In case you have problems or questions, just let me know, I’ll try to help. Maybe we could even meet in Second Life and have a chat Smile. My avatar’s name is Falk Junkers.

Bye for now.

Andrew