Digital Silence? Communicative Language Teaching in the (Digital) EFL Classroom

The study aims to explore the opportunities and challenges of communicative and interactive approaches to learning and teaching English as a foreign language in digital learning environments. The concept of communicative competences is very complex. "Oral discourse practices are not limited to face to face conversations or disembodied communication on the telephone anymore; and the reading and writing of texts does not necessarily involve paper and pen anymore, rather these processes are connected to the use of digital tools" (Elsner 2018: 20). Researchers in the field of teaching and learning EFL criticise the quality of current digital materials and media: Online activities or apps may look fancier, because of their digital layout. Nevertheless, their structures do not differ very much from the concepts which were used over twenty years ago such as fill-in-the-blank, matching exercises, multiple answer questions, drag-and-drop exercises. These activities are not only monotonous, but they hardly show any methodological advantage over traditional materials and learning environments (Marx 2019: 163). This finding strongly underlines the necessity to identify criteria for selecting digital materials and media that support a communicative approach in digital learning environments – may they be at home or in schools. Following an action research approach, the project intends to explore potential of digital materials and media to increase (digital) oracy in the EFL classroom. This talk aims to present a subject-specific list of criteria (i. e. the EFL classroom) that may support to the “right choice” of digital media and materials in order to support a communicative approach in digital learning environments.

Elsner, D. (2018): Institutionalised Foreign Language Learning - Teaching English at Different Levels. In: Surkamp, Carola / Viebrock, Britta (eds.): Teaching   English as a Foreign Language. Stuttgart: Metzler. P. 17-37.

Marx, N. (2019): Zur Pseudodigitalisierung in Fremdsprachenlehrwerken. In: Burwitz-Melzer, Eva / Riemer, Claudia /Schmelter, Lars (eds.): Das Lehren und Lernen von Fremd- und Zweitsprachen im digitalen Wandel. Arbeitspapiere der 39. Frühjahrskonferenz zur Erforschung des Fremdsprachenunterrichts Tübingen: Narr. P. 162-172.

Sonja Brunsmeier is Professor of Teaching and Learning English as a Foreign Language. Before joining the English department at the University of Vechta she was junior professor at the University of Education Ludwigsburg and research assistant at the University of Education in Freiburg. Sonja Brunsmeier also was headmistress of a primary school and worked as a primary and secondary school teacher.