March 5-9 is Open Education Week Throughout the week, guest contributors will present their perspectives on the value of open education to research, teaching and learning at The University of Texas at Austin. Today’s installment is provided byJeannette Okur, Lecturer, Middle Eastern Studies.
For a year and a half now, I have been designing and piloting an OER textbook and online curricular materials designed to bring adult learners of modern Turkish from the Intermediate-Mid/High to the Advanced Mid proficiency level. The textbook, titled Her Şey Bir Merhaba İle Başlar (Everything Begins With A Hello), will – hopefully – be available on the UT Center for Open Education Resources and Language Learning (COERLL) website in Fall 2019; and the complementary series of primarily auto-correct listening, viewing, reading and grammar exercises and quizzes will be made available on a public Canvas course site. This new set of OER materials is aligned with the ACTFL standards for Intermediate- and Advanced-level communicative skills and intercultural proficiency descriptors, and also reflects my department’s (and my personal) commitment to blended instruction and the flipped classroom model. I’ve now designed five thematic units that promote the following pedagogical goals:
- Introduce the learner to culturally and socially significant phenomena in Turkey today.
- Introduce the learner to various print, audio and audio-visual text types aimed at native Turkish audiences and guide them to use (and reflect on) the reading, listening and viewing comprehension strategies needed to understand these Advanced-level texts.
- Engage the learner in active recognition and repeated practice of new vocabulary and grammar items.
- Guide the learner through practice of oral and written discursive strategies specific to the Advanced proficiency level.
- Balance the four communicative skills.
- Balance seriousness and fun!
I’m excited about OER’s potential to transform students’ and teachers’ experiences with Less Commonly Taught Languages (LCTL) like Turkish. A readily accessible and modifiable OER for this level of Turkish language instruction, in particular, makes a whole lot of sense, because the for-profit textbook model is a non-starter! In other words, because no one can make a profit off of Turkish language teaching materials outside of Turkey; few of the teaching materials that U.S.-based Turkish language instructors design ever get published or shared. In fact, creating an OER for Turkish-language learning has made sharing my ideas, teaching materials and methodology possible!
I believe wholeheartedly that being able to share and modify OER teaching/learning materials via online platforms leads to collaboration among educators and eventually to better educational products and practices. I hope that other Turkish language educators, upon engaging with my OER materials, will learn a few small but important lessons from me, namely:
- Adults learning Turkish need help practicing and learning vocabulary, not just grammar.
- Identifying and discussing cultural differences/commonalities on the basis of actual socio-cultural phenomena captured in texts aimed at target culture audiences is key to increasing learners’ cultural proficiency, especially when those learners are not learning in the target culture.
- The blended instruction/flipped classroom model really works because engagement with reading, listening and grammar materials at home gives learners more time to practice SPEAKING in class (or with a tutor).
I also look forward to learning from the colleagues and learners who engage with my materials in varied settings beyond the University of Texas at Austin.