How student learning outcomes can inform and improve foreign language programs
The study of foreign languages faces numerous opportunities and challenges in today’s increasingly globalized world. In the United States, many foreign language programs are disappearing or in decline. Meanwhile, developments in technology and the creation of new media challenge our preconceived notions about how foreign languages should be taught and where and when learning occurs. These challenges motivate us to re-think our approaches and make new connections between ideas, cultures and emerging technologies. Hybrid language courses, also referred to as blended or computer enhanced language courses, are at the center of a very lively debate in today's academic world. Although the use of technology at the college level aimed at enhancing foreign language teaching and learning has been in practice for a some time now, the idea of substituting entire class periods with time spent working on a computer module is still a source of controversy. An internal assessment project that began in 2005 in the Romance Languages and Literatures Department at the University of Notre Dame informed the articulation of learning goals that transformed the Italian academic program from the beginning to the advanced levels and led to the design and implementation of effective hybrid courses.