When I was approached, in the summer of 2008 by David Barnes of Packt to write Moodle 1.19 for Teaching 7-14 Year Olds, we discussed subject matter, and I suggested basing it on Language teaching as I am an MFL teacher by qualification. David told me there was already a Moodle languages book in the pipeline, so we settled for some fun Geography instead, but since then I have been awaiting with eager anticipation the Moodle book on a subject dear to my heart. Well today it arrived – Moodle 1.9 For Second Language Teaching by Jeff Stanford – and what an admirable tome it is! Respect to that man for making it so comprehensive! It goes thoroughly through the four skills of language teaching – Speaking, Listening Reading and Writing, with a plethora of common sense and inspired suggestions for delivering learning via Moodle. There is a sample chapter on the Packt website here The first two chapters deal with why you should use Moodle and the mechanics of setting up Moodle for Language Teaching, while the subsequent chapters deal with language- specific issues such as vocabulary learning, grammar practice and assessment. As if he hadn’t given us enough in the printed book, there are also two further chapters available on the Packt website, covering the layout of your course (highly important to grab and keep your students) and introducing Moodle to your classes. While the book is based on teaching English to non-native speakers, all the suggestions transfer perfectly to modern foreign language teachers such as myself. As he says in Chapter one, the book is “firmly rooted in a communicative approach to language learning” and I appreciated the way Jeff set out the Key Features of CILT versus Moodle Features supporting CILT.
Some random thoughts and observations:
To get the most of this book’s suggestions you’d need either to be admin or have an admin with ftp access to your server to add non-standard modules. Jeff makes heavy use of Nanogong (which fortuitously has just been added as an assignment type this week) , Inwicast Mediacenter and modules such as Questionnaire, OU Blog/Wiki (more powerful than Moodle’s) and Webquest. However, if you don’t have access to these, there are plenty of activities using Moodle’s Glossary, Quiz or HotPotatoes which will serve you well. He also provides instructions and ideas for using the free software Audacity for making sound recordings.
The book’s strong point –its huge range of activities – could possibly be daunting at first to a complete Moodle novice. If you are at all frightened of Moodle I suggest you test the waters first with Moodle 1.9 for Teaching 7-14 Year Olds (even if your students are older) as it assumes no knowledge whatsoever short of being able to turn on your computer. After that,or if you are already relatively happy with Moodle and computer skills, I would go straight to Chapter 3 and savour the delicious variety of “recipes” which Jeff serves up. For each task he provides an Aim (Help students identify grammar points) the Moodle module required (Lesson) any extra programs (Audacity/youtube) and a starred system for ease of use (***) I think this is very useful. It means the book can lend itself to teachers browsing for ideas – looking at different activities – checking their Moodle has those modules and they have the skill level required – and going for it!
Moodle 1.9 For Second Language Teaching is available from the Moodle books section of the Packt website. I could write a lot more but I suggest you read it for yourselves!