Towards a personalised textbook - new tool and new methods

Introduction

Personalised and digitally supported reading is the main focus of a one-year educational project for teachers of Danish as a second language, which CIP has received funding for from the Danish Agency for International Recruitment and Integration. The project, which is being run in collaboration with Slagelse Language Center (SSC) and Mircea Lungu from the IT University of Copenhagen, will investigate and develop pedagogical methods and practices to utilise digital tools in the teaching and learning of Danish as a second language. It forms part of a wider research project based on a digital platform called “Zeeguu”, which has been developed specifically for personalised reading and vocabulary acquisition.

What is the overall purpose?

The overall purpose of the project is to contribute to pedagogical advancements in a number of language centres across Denmark and to develop and document new and innovative pedagogical methods for working with reading and vocabulary acquisition in various differentiated and work-related contexts involving language learning and teaching of Danish as a second language.

The more specific purpose of the project is to develop new and innovative pedagogical and didactical methods, practices and forms of organization that are tailored to the individual learner's needs and interests via the digital platform Zeeguu. Zeeguu works by individually selecting texts to personalise reading, so enabling learners of Danish as a second language to read authentic texts

The project covers four main areas:

  • Use of motivation, desire to read and individual needs of the learners as drivers to select texts for reading and vocabulary acquisition.

  • Meeting learners' individual needs for work-related terminology, domain-specific vocabulary and/or semi-technical language.

  • Differentiation of teaching - both in terms of language level and topics.

  • Meaningful utilisation of digital tools in second language teaching.

Zeeguu

Zeeguu is a prototype digital system that enables learners to find texts that are both interesting and at an appropriate level of difficulty for them. The platform allows words to be translated and pronounced directly from the text via machine learning and text-to-speech synthesis softare. Individual vocabulary exercises can also be generated based on the learner's interaction with the text. The reading texts that the system recommends can be based on an individualized internet search or a collection of texts that the teacher uploads - or a combination of the two. Finally, the teacher's control panel enables them to monitor the activities of the group and the individual learner. The prototype system was developed by associate professor Mircea Lungu from the IT University of Copenhagen as part of a previous research project at Rijksuniversiteit in Groningen.

For more details and a demonstration of Zeeguu, see the presentation from EUROCALL 2020 (international conference held by The European Association of Computer Assisted Language Learning) in August 2020.