Webclassroom – Methodology

How to use the Slovenian WebclassroomLearning language through culture

The Slovenian Webclassroom topics
is a continuing language project with the goal of learning “culture through language”. it is an innovative presentation of learning “language in context”  with a range of activities from texts of the latest Web resources  to develop reading and writing skills. The webclassroom has been designed for: 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 the existing Web sites, which are intended to develop and focus on Slovenian language reading and writing skills.

The topics have a range of language activities, contextually-based for the levels of language proficiency from beginner to advanced levels. The structure of topics act as a template for educators to write new topics, or be adapted for their own curriculum and interests of the learner. The activities can be supplemented by the instructor with the provision of reinforcing language and grammatical exercises based on material in the topic. The material can be the basis for classroom activities to develop the other language skills of speaking and listening.

The methodology includes a broad range of text types to develop writing skills. Text types were introduced in the language classroom throughout Australia as the most effective approach in acquiring communication skills. Most text types are available on the Web and can serve as examples of Slovenian writing when completing the set activities and tasks. The Internet has been used in the Slovenian class of the Victorian School of Languages, in Melbourne particularly for research assignments and as resource material for contemporary Slovenian texts from Years 7 to 12.

The text types in the topics include:
advertisement, article, brochure, quide, 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 and the grammar reference book by the slavist Peter Herrity, “Slovene, a Comprehensive Grammar”.

Extending language skills using the Web

The Webclassroom project is organized into themes, activities/tasks based on the Web resources. The activities focus on reading and writing skills. 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 double aim of gaining information as well as 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.

There are collections of audio files for learning Slovenian language on the Web, in Miran Hladnik’s “Slovenian for Travellers – Slovenščina za popotnike”,  http://www.ff.uni-lj.si/publikacije/sft/ . The audio files readings of poems by France Prešeren, on http://www.preseren.net/ang/default.asp are ideal for the study  of Slovenian literature.

Communication skills – reading and writing

The learner has the option of only reading about the topic to extend reading skills.  The topics 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 a great number of bilingual Slovenian/English Websites and their inclusion in the resources lists means that a person with no or little knowledge of Slovenian can also use the webclassroom to quickly gain some insight into Slovenian society, Slovenian cities, country, and government, etc. 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 viewer can select the appropriate level of language, and extend learning 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 as found in the multitude of discussion forums covering whole range of topical issues and interests.

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Sandi Ceferin
Sandi Ceferin

Sandi Ceferin (B.A. CELTA) is a researcher and Thezaurus editor. She is a writer of language materials and the Slovenian Webclassroom. Her studies in Slavic linguistics and Indo-European languages has been a springboard to collaboration and development of new model applications of technologies for languages and culture study. Sandi produces curricula and resource materials including Course Outline – Slovenian CSF Years 1-10, published by the Victorian School of Languages, Melbourne (2003).