Between 2020 and today, digitization has often been treated as a stopgap solution to pandemic distance learning. One may hope, however, that the insight has taken hold in this phase that the digital dimension demands a fundamentally new conception of language, communication, and discursive interaction beyond the pandemic. This also raises the question of whether foreign language competencies can continue to be understood merely in terms of the traditional four skills.
The digital dimension of foreign language learning
At the congress of the German Society for Foreign Language Research (DGFF) in Wuerzburg, I gave a lecture in Section 6: “Tensions between Competences, Content and Digization” on the “digitization of foreign language discourse competences”. In the contribution to the congress volume entitled Languages, Cultures, Identities: Changes through Digitization (2020, ed. by Maria Eisenmann & Jeanine Steinbock), my reflections and teaching proposals are now available in print. The point I make in the article is that the digital dimension of foreign language learning is that it is not just a media variant of the previously analog. This has to be stated because digitization is often enough simply subsumed under ‘media literacy’. In fact, new forms of social interaction, new digital genres, and new forms of knowledge have emerged in the vast number of digital environments established worldwide – platforms, exchange forums, communication services – to which new competence goals for foreign language learning need to correspond. One of the most pressing questions is how young people can learn to cope with the huge amounts of information and orientations available online, and how they can make sense of the large amounts of texts when navigating in digital environments. This is a standard requirement when dealing with digital texts, because all online texts are hypertextually linked to other texts and materials, so that the amount of texts that is offered inevitably multiplies.
Maria Eisenmann & Jeanine Steinbock (eds.) (2020). ) Die Digitalisierung der fremdsprachigen Diskursfähigkeit. In: Eisenmann, Maria & Steinbock, Jeanine (eds.). Sprachen, Kulturen, Identitäten: Umbrüche durch Digitalisierung? [Languages, Cultutes, Identities: Change through Digitization? ]Schneider Hohengehren: Baltmannsweiler. 191-202.
Digital distance learning
In the editorial board of Der fremdprachliche Unterricht Englisch (Teaching English as a Foreign Language, FUE), the special issue on teaching and learning digitally at a distance (“Distanzunterricht: digitales Lernen”) was conceived and published in 2020. It includes suggestions for working with digital platforms (Alexander Hallet), for guidance and feedback in online learning (Andreas Müller-Hartmann & Marleen Reuter), for the literary classroom with the Padlet (Dirk Beyer), and for working with the digital brainstorming method Genius Hour (Jonas Jödecke & Michael Rogge). Here is a detailed overview of the special issue.
I contributed a methodological article on designing complex competence tasks for digital learning. Together with Carola Surkamp and Karin Vogt I also wrote the introductory article for the issue, in which we discuss the most important aspects of “Digital Learning in Distance and Face-to-Face Classrooms”.
Wolfgang Hallet, Carola Surkamp & Karin Vogt (2020). Digitales Englischlernen im Distanz- und Präsenzunterricht [Teaching and learning English digitally – at a distance and face-to-face]. Der fremdsprachliche Unterricht Englisch 54, 167. 2-7.