Slovenian Webclassroom. Introduction

The Web for language learning

Internet as a Virtual Library
The Web is a wonderful motivator for language acquisition. It is efficient, for direct access to contemporary resources, in tandem as a source of data. There is a broad range of contemporary texts for the language learner, with primary sources such as news, reports, advertisements, scripts of interviews, reviews, articles and images, videostreaming of live events, and streaming of radio and television programs. The virtual library is an expanding fount of knowledge, reflecting the diversity of interest and purpose of the Web presence. The Web is used for distance education and independent learning. It is not a coincidence that parallel to the continuous rapid development of information technology there is a growing market for independent learning, research, and production.
 
Slovenian language studies with the Web
The Slovenian Webclassroom was developed on the notion that the Internet is an efficient medium for access to Slovenian language learning resources.  The Webclassroom thematic units guide the viewer through language activities based on web resources and provide the references for reading Slovenian texts about contemporary Slovenia. Slovenian Web resources are extensive in spheres of: culture, commerce, education, entertainment, government, media, and tourism. A valuable Web resource are numerous discussion forums about contemporary issues.

How to use the Slovenian Webclassroom

Methodology for learners and instructors
The Slovenian Webclassroom units represents an innovative approach to language learning by utilising Web resources, to develop reading and writing skills. It is based on the “immersion” strategy of language study, and exposure to language in context . The webclassroom has been designed for two groups: the teacher and independent learners, for the senior secondary student or the adult who is used to acquiring language skills and knowledge through reading can select and research topics of interest. A student with some basic knowledge of Slovenian can use that knowledge as a basis to gain information by reading Slovenian texts with the use of dictionary, and gradually extend his/her comprehension level. For language students and teachers of Slovenian the units provide a set of research and communicative tasks based on contemporary Web sites, which are intended to develop and focus on Slovenian language reading and writing skills.

Each unit consists of: background notes providing information about the topic subject , six text-type language activities, a reading comprehension exercise, and a reference of  web links, and books.
The language teacher can guide the students through the language activities in language sessions, or else set them as home assignments. Furthermore, the units could also be adapted by the teacher, the teacher can devise other activities from the same web references, and create language exercises from the selected texts of the unit, according to the needs of the learners.    
The methodology incorporates a broad range of text-types to develop writing skills. Most text-types are available on the Internet and are thus readily available as initial examples of Slovenian writing for the learner when completing the set activities and tasks.
The text-types in the topics include the following:
advertisement, article, brochure, guide, instruction, recipe, menu, interview, invitation, journal entry, letter, poem, postcard, profile, report, review, script, song, short story. The text-types are listed in the chart of each of the topic outlines, with focus on some specified linguistic elements.
For details and examples of linguistic elements the student is referred to, Thezaurus - slovenian language resources, http://www.thezaurus.com/slovenianlinx/linguisticelement.htm and the grammar reference book by Peter Herrity, “Slovene, a Comprehensive Grammar”.

Extending language skills using the Web

The Webclassroom is organized into themes, activities/tasks based on easily accessible Web resources of authentic text. Thus activities/tasks in the Slovenian  Webclassroom are based chiefly on reading and writing. There are audio files on the Web for learners, such as Miran Hladnik’s “Slovene for Travellers” and readings of poems by France Prešeren.
Reading activities and research extend language and vocabulary skills as well as broaden the knowledge of Slovenian culture. The majority of Slovenian Websites are bilingual and reading can be pursued both in English and Slovenian - with the dual aim of gaining information and developing language skills. In the writing activities, emphasis is on text-types and on linguistic elements. However these need to be undertaken under the guidance of a teacher or at a more advanced level with the aid of a comprehensive reference grammar.

Communication skills - reading and writing
It is left to the reader, whether he/she to select from the language tasks, which are designed for extending both language and culture by focusing and guiding. At the same time the Webclassroom can be used by anyone who is interested in a particular topic and would like simply to read for the interest and in English.
The approach is based on the experience of language learners who have acquired information and a considerable level of language by reading. This is referred to as passive knowledge, which is highly valuable. A person with a high level of passive language skills has acquired a much broader vocabulary and a strong foundation for developing speaking and writing, that is active communication skills.

Use of bilingual websites - Slovenian-English
The existence of numerous bilingual Slovenian/English websites in the resources lists means that a person with no or little knowledge of Slovenian can also use the resources to quickly gain some insight into aspects of Slovenian society, country, and government. The viewer with a grounding in Slovenian language may proceed by reading in English first, then in Slovenian. This is an effective process to expand vocabulary and acquire knowledge of contemporary standard Slovenian. The complexity of language will vary according to the target audience of the Web site, and its content. The learner can select the appropriate level of language, and extend skills by selecting more challenging texts. The language will vary according to the purpose and the style of the writer, and may be either formal, or informal to be found in the multitude of Slovenian discussion forums.


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