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Training Package

Module 2
USE OF QUALITY DIGITAL-BASED LANGUAGE TEACHING SOURCES AS AN INTEGRATION OR ALTERNATIVE TO CLASSROOM TEACHING APPROACHES

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Case study 2

Title of digital resource: Mela Annurca: tutti i benefici by Giuseppe Scala, 18/12/2020.
Original written text: https://www.iconsiglideifarmacisti.it/alimentazione/mela-annurca-benefici/
Podcast: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/mela-annurca/id1549401208?i=1000509867191

Aim: to find out how a scientific text-to-speech podcast (i.e., a podcast created by reading aloud a written text) can be explored for teaching and learning language for specific purposes.

Target language: Italian – B1 level

Type of validation: onsite (classroom). The interpretative frame was the academic lecture, where students listen to and take notes. The text was selected for its general culture subject and LSP contents.
Learning activities:
1. dictation to enhance motivation and memory;
2. discrete listening to train phonetic distinction;
3. paragraph division and writing the appropriate subtitles of the transcription to practise the ability to summarise (revision of notes);
4. free written text as a way of reflecting on the learning activity (metacognition).

Methodology used: several language teaching approaches were applied: the audio-lingual method, the direct method, communicative language teaching, and the functional-notional approach.

Students’ profile: students attending an Italian course for specific purposes (medical area); 7 students of Medicine and Surgery and 2 students of Pharmacy in their twenties. Students of the medical area are used to spending a lot of time studying, memorising specific lexicon, and transferring the notions learnt into practice. Furthermore, they are about to start, or they are already in, their training experience period in Italian hospitals, where they will have to interact with Italian (native/non-native) speakers (patients and staff).

The teaching aims were to improve listening comprehension tout court by means of dictation (rehearsing a shortened audio podcast many times), punctual listening (correcting the transcription - with mistakes - from the audio), resuming/writing abilities (division into paragraphs and writing the appropriate subtitles of the corrected version of the transcription) and meta-reflection on learning (production of a written text on the pros and cons of the classroom learning activities).

The reactions from the students were very positive about the listening activities (especially the correction of the transcription).

The difficulties reported were related to the modifications of the podcast inserted by the teacher: for example, the dictation was perceived as a useful but difficult activity, because of the noises and interferences in the audio inserted by the teacher (to simulate real-life situations). Students also gave positive feedback about the writing activities. One objection regarding the content selection of the podcast was that it should have been more directly related to the medical field.
The main difficulty encountered by the lecturer was to select the right podcast, to download it and modify (manipulate) it. This point is closely linked to the contents of Module 1 of the package ("how to select").

The operative tool/check list for the lecturer was useful both from the teaching/learning perspective and the technical point of view.

There are not specific limitations of the resource. It must be noted, though, the great amount of time required to prepare the learning unit (podcast selection, manipulation, creation of activities and so on), especially if compared to ready-made teaching material.

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