Thesis supervisor: Professor Birute Klaas-Lang
Opponent: Professor Raimo Raag (University of Uppsala)
The Estonian language is spoken and taught in many places in the world. Yet, many enthusiasts do not have the opportunity to study the language through contact learning. Keeping these people in mind, computer-based language learning tools are being developed. Computer-assisted learning loses spatial restrictions—with web-based teacher-assisted courses, participants can study without having to be in the same geographical location. The range of possibilities that apply to computer is widening, which offers new resources for developing web-based language learning.
This doctoral dissertation explores the issues of teaching Estonian in a computer-based manner. The thesis belongs to the field of applied linguistics and is interdisciplinary, as it encompasses research, development and practice.
The computer-based Estonian courses for adult learners are discussed in the doctoral dissertation, while three teacher-assisted Estonian courses developed in the University of Tartu are closely analysed. The dissertation analyses the learners’ attitudes towards computer-based language studies in general and their assessments about achieving the objectives of the courses in particular. Organising the courses created while writing the dissertation and the feedback on the courses also allows making some suggestions to the developers of educational software intended for teaching Estonian in the thesis.
The various media available via a computer—sound and video recordings, text, pictures, etc.—may be integrated into a course. Developers/Teachers compiling learning materials must cooperate with computer specialists to find the most suitable technical solutions. The characteristics of a specific language must also be considered.
In future, more attention should also be paid to analysing computer-based learning resources intended for different target groups and implementing the analysis results in preparing new learning materials.