Dr Robert Woore (University of Oxford)
Prof Suzanne Graham (University of Reading)
UK Economic and Social Research Council, Impact Acceleration Account
In 2020-2021, school closures due to COVID-19 severely disrupted students’ learning in all subjects, including foreign languages. Online materials (e.g., blogs, websites, YouTube videos, podcasts, etc.) can provide valuable input to sustain language learning and motivation, but many students find it difficult to identify resources on their own. Together with teachers and students from 5 schools, we put together a collection of free online resources in French that are both interesting and easy enough to understand to promote learning.
First, the teachers in our partner schools conducted focus group interviews with their students in Year 8 - 13 to find out about any existing online contact with French resources, perceived barriers to engaging with such materials, and the kinds of activities and resources that most interested the students. Informed by the students' responses, we then conducted a search for French videos, blogs, and other online content that corresponded to the students' interests. We employed linguistic analysis to determine whether the resources we found were likely to be linguistically accessible for students at different levels.
When we finished a draft of our collection, we shared it with our partnering teachers and students, who tested out the resources and provided us with feedback via a brief online survey.
The final catalogue includes 111 online resources, which are organised by topic and increasing order of difficulty to help students. We converted the survey responses we collected to star ratings, which who how much other students enjoyed each resource and how easy they found it to understand. This helps students to choose resources which are both fun and not too challenging for their skill level. We also added glosses of the most important vocabulary for those resources which did not already include English subtitles or translations, to help students feel confident in taking on a more challenging activity and get the most out of it to help their language learning. In the year following its online publication, the catalogue was accessed more than 2000 times.