Language Learning, Open Education

Language learning and interactive OER

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For language teachers, open educational resources (OER) provide an opportunity to create, adapt, or adopt immersive content that keeps learners engaged and accommodates a variety of learning styles. Pressbooks Directory includes many great resources for a variety of languages and skill levels. Many of these include H5P content (interactive elements) such as matching questions, flashcards, an audio recorder for students to test their pronunciation, and other exercises. The interactive content available in OER not only enhances learning but also provides helpful formative evaluations for students, giving them a good sense of their progress and how well they understand the material. OER for language learning also typically include embedded media such as videos and audio recordings that demonstrate pronunciation and improve cultural understanding.

We’ve collected a few titles that illustrate why OER is a great choice for language learners. Each one is described as a work in progress, meaning that it will continue to be refined or expanded as needed. Have a look through the books below and see how their different approaches can engage students.

Find more open textbooks for language learning in Pressbooks Directory.

Elementary Arabic

Ayman Mohamed and Sadam Issa

Elementary Arabic book cover

Elementary Arabic was developed at Michigan State University and is designed for undergraduate students who have already covered “alphabets and writing systems.” It provides well-rounded lessons by combining both standard and spoken Arabic practice. By combining standard Arabic reading and writing with conversations in Egyptian Arabic, this resource provides language teachers with the chance to “familiarize students with the actual Arabic spoken in the real world.” It is thoughtfully designed with easy-to-read tables and formatting as well as 181 H5P activities throughout. These interactive elements include multiple choice, essay questions, matching questions, and more to encourage student engagement and add variety to the learning activities. There is so much variety that the reader may feel a sense of discovery as they navigate from page to page. It also features numerous pronunciation recordings and videos. The lessons (separated into chapters like My Family, Weather, and Hobbies and Sports) are sequenced so that instructors can easily design their lesson plans and assignments around them. This material would work well for either online or hybrid classes.

Basic Hindi I

Rajiv Ranjan

Basic Hindi I book cover

Basic Hindi I was also created at Michigan State University and is intended for beginners. The book begins by teaching the Hindi script and sound system, then each subsequent chapter is based around a theme, such as beginning conversations or describing places. Basic Hindi I incorporates a “mixture of pedagogical approaches to fit all types of learning and teaching philosophies/styles to achieve intermediate low to mid ACTFL proficiency level within a semester.” It offers a mixture of activities to accommodate different learning and teaching styles, and you have the option of starting with reading/listening or grammar depending on your preference. It features many videos throughout as well as 138 H5P activities such as matching questions, multiple choice, true or false, the ability to record your own pronunciation, and exercises in which readers highlight certain parts of speech. These provide the reader with immediate feedback, allowing for quick self-assessment. Each chapter features cultural notes to deepen the reader’s understanding of the language.

Spunti: Italiano elementare 1

Daniel Leisawitz and Daniela Viale

Spunti: Italiano elementare 1 book cover

Spunti was created at Muhlenberg College and is designed to be a complete course. It includes elements like “printable activity packets for in-class use” as part of each unit, interactive exercises, and “complete semester lesson plans” for instructors. The authors describe their approach as “interactive, conversational and fundamentally task-based,” with “simple and concise” explanations of grammar. The book’s six units cover basic elements of the Italian language, with topics pertaining to students’ lives, daily routine, family, travel, and more. Each unit ends with a series of interactive exercises, including a variety of fill-in-the-blank, true or false, and multiple-choice questions. Spunti features 97 H5P elements in total as well as some audio/video content to further aid students. The content on each page is nicely organized and doesn’t overwhelm the reader with too much information. Students are able to “explore contemporary Italian culture and put the language to use” through the in-class activities and interactive content. These lessons are continued in Spunti: Italiano elementare 2.

JUNTXS: Introductory Spanish

Adriana Diaz

JUNTXS was created through The University of Queensland. Although it is still under development, it’s included here as an example of what is possible with language learning OER. JUNTXS begins by acknowledging the intersectional diversity of Spanish-speaking people from around the world and strives to reflect those differences throughout its lessons. It is divided into two sets of four modules, which are designed to fit into two semesters. Modules are media-rich and include a wide variety of audio, video, and interactive content. JUNTXS is noteworthy for its creative use of both H5P and other embedded content. It features memory games, interactive videos, dialog cards with built-in audio, slides and other presentation tools, matching and multiple-choice questions, and other H5P elements. It also features some surprising uses of embedded media. For instance, each module ends with a Spotify playlist of Spanish-language songs related to the content of the module. The content is immersive, varied, and engaging. These modules succeed in their stated goal to “fuel our curiosity, encourage active reflection on our own and others’ ideas and perspectives, and to stretch our social, political and ecological imagination in general, as well as in relation to the study of the languages and cultures of the Spanish-speaking world.” The intermediate-level + JUNTXS is also in development.