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ADFL Guidelines on the Administration of Foreign Language Departments

October 04, 2014 By: supyan Category: N. Links

Association of Departments of Foreign Languages

ADFL Guidelines on the Administration of Foreign Language Departments

Suggested Best Practices and Resources for the Implementation of Hybrid and Online Language Courses

Many language departments across the country teach hybrid and online courses. The decision to implement such courses should be one that is fully supported by the language department concerned. The addition of hybrid or online language courses does not save time or money and is not a cost-saving measure. Rather, adding hybrid or online language courses requires the use of more resources than the traditional course and requires additional funding and time on the part of all involved. The process must include input from all stakeholders (e.g., administrators, technical support, instructors, students), and administrators must make a long-term commitment to providing the resources to sustain such courses. See the MLA’s 2001 statement “Special Considerations for Language and Literature: The AAUPStatement on Distance Education.”

Definitionshybrid or blended course is a course that includes some degree of course work that is done online. Hybrid course models vary depending on the amount of instruction that takes place during the online component, the amount of face-to-face instruction, and the curricular design of the interaction between the two components.

An online course is a course held entirely online with no face-to-face instruction. Some online courses may include synchronous components, whereas others may be delivered in a fully asynchronous format. This model can range in size from an independent study held online to a massive open online course (MOOC).

Pedagogical ConsiderationsMany hybrid and online courses in other disciplines contain teacher-centered, lecture-driven instruction. This model is ineffective for language teaching, which requires a student-centered approach to sufficiently develop learner proficiency in the four modalities of reading, listening, speaking, and writing.

Awareness. Being aware of best practices for teaching online includes an awareness of student comfort and skill levels with technology, the need for student and instructor training, technical support with the courseware, clarity of course expectations, effective grading techniques, quality assessment mechanisms, and clear policies regarding cheating and plagiarism.

Development of new skills. Instructors who develop new skills with regard to online record keeping, organization, time management, and effective online communication will have the most success teaching online. 

Effective adaptations. The modification of language course activities for online instruction will ensure that the incorporation of online components results in learning experiences that are at least as effective and valuable as those of traditional courses. Such adaptations might include the use of video, podcasts, chat rooms, message boards, Web sites, mobile apps, and online workbook activities. 

Oral proficiency. Paying special attention to the development of oral proficiency and consciously creating a sense of community in either a hybrid or an online class will help compensate for the reduced face-to-face classroom interaction and combat the anonymity that comes from the online portion of a class. This can be done, for instance, by incorporating presentational, interpersonal, and individual oral tasks. Keep in mind that, for hybrid courses, the online portion of the class often changes the nature of in-class instruction. 

Online etiquette. Remind students of online etiquette to maintain a civil environment. 

Accessibility. Taking accessibility issues into consideration includes not only ensuring equal access to computers but also complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

Technical ConsiderationsIt is crucial that information technology personnel be involved in the development of online courses from the beginning of the process. Consultation with information technology personnel and their ongoing support in the planning, development, implementation, and maintenance of online and hybrid courses are vital to the continued success of a project.

Selected ResourcesArispe, Kelly, and Robert Blake. “Individual Factors and Successful Language Learning in a Hybrid Course.” System 40.4 (2012): 449–65. Print.

“Best Practices for Online and Hybrid Courses.” James Madison University. James Madison U, Aug. 2012. Web. 24 July 2014. <>.

Blake, Robert, Nicole L. Wilson, María Cetto, and Cristina Pardo-Ballester. “Measuring Face-to-Face Proficiency in Distance, Face-to-Face, and Blended Classrooms.” Language Learning and Technology 12.3 (2008): 114–27. Web. <>.

“Certificate for Online Adjunct Teaching.” MarylandOnline. MarylandOnline, 2010–14. Web. 24 July 2014. <>.

Coleman, James A., Regine Hampel, Mirjam Hauck, and Ursula Stickler. “Collaboration and Interaction: The Keys to Distance and Computer-Supported Language Learning.” Critical and Intercultural Theory and Language Pedagogy. Ed. Glenn S. Levine, Alison Phipps, and Carl Blythe. Florence: Cengage Learning, 2012. 161–80. Print.

Compton, Lily. “Preparing Pre-service Teachers for Online Learning.” Diss. Iowa State U, 2009. Digital Repository @ Iowa State University. Web. 24 July 2014. <>.

CALICO: The Computer Assisted Language Instruction Consortium. CALICO, 1996–2006. Web. 24 July 2014. <>.

“Going Virtual! 2007–2010 Research Series: Studying Professional Development for K–12 Online Teachers.” Boise State University. Dept. of Educ. Technology, Boise State U, n.d. Web. 24 July 2014. <>.

IALLT: International Association for Language Learning Technology. IALLT, 2010. Web. 24 July 2014. <>.

iNACOL: International Association for K–12 Online Learning. Intl. Assn. for K–12 Online Learning, 2014. Web. 24 July 2014. <>.

Isabelli, Casilde A. “Student Learning Outcomes in Hybrid and Face-to-Face Beginning Spanish Language Courses.” The Future of Education: Conference Proceedings. Pixel Intl. Confs., 2014. Web. 24 July 2014. <>.

“Online Education Resources.” Illinois Online Network. Illinois Online Network, 2010. Web. 24 July 2014. <>.

Online Learning Consortium. Online Learning Consortium, 2014. Web. 24 July 2014. <>.

“Online Teaching Activity Index.” Illinois Online Network. Illinois Online Network, 2010. Web. 24 July 2014. <>.

“Publications.” SREB: Southern Regional Education Board. Southern Regional Educ. Board, 1999–2014. Web. 24 July 2014. <>.

Quality Matters: A National Benchmark for Online Course Design. MarylandOnline, 2014. Web. 24 July 2014. <>.

Rubio, Fernando. “Why I Love and Hate My Spanish MOOC.” Open Up: Conversations on Open Education for Language Learning. COERLL, U of Texas, Austin, 12 Feb. 2013. Web. 24 July 2014. <>.

Rubio, Fernando, and Joshua J. Thoms, eds. Hybrid Language Teaching and Learning: Exploring Theoretical, Pedagogical, and Curricular Issues. Boston: Heinle–Cengage Learning, 2014. Print. Issues on Lang. Program Direction 2012.

Scida, Emily E., and Rachel E. Saury. “Hybrid Courses and Their Impact on Student and Classroom Performance: A Case Study at the University of Virginia.” CALICO Journal 23.3 (2006): 517–31. Web. 24 July 2014. <>.

Simon, Edwige, and Courtney Fell. “Going Hybrid: A How-To Manual.” Anderson Lang. and Technology Center, U of Colorado, Boulder, 2013.Google doc. <>.

Stickler, Ursula, and Tim Lewis. “Collaborative Language Learning Strategies in an Email Tandem Exchange.” Language Learning Strategies in Independent Settings. Ed. Stella Hurd and Lewis. Bristol: Multilingual Matters, 2008. 237–61. Print. Second Lang. Acquisition 33.

“Teaching Languages Online (TLO).” CARLA: Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition. U of Minnesota, 2014. Web. 24 July 2014. <>.


This document was developed by the ADFL Executive Committee in March 2014.


Copyright © Modern Language Association. All rights reserved. Questions/comments to Steve Olsen, Manager and Editor, ADFL Web Site.

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