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Handbook for Foreign Language Learning in Online Tandems and Educational Settings


Hermann Funk, Manja Gerlach and Dorothea Spaniel-Weise

This book is about foreign language learning in non-formal Online Tandems. The collected papers by contributors who have expertise in the field of Language Pedagogy and Foreign Language Acquisition gather information on online interactions, such as the initiation of tandems, the mentoring of online activities and learners’ interaction, as well as the assessment of the processes at hand. The handbook targets stakeholders, institutions of higher education, language teachers and tandem trainers at educational institutions that want to set up Online Tandems especially designed for third language learners. The book is the result of the three-year project L3TASK carried out at five universities in Austria (Wien), Germany (Jena) and Spain (Alicante, Barcelona, Madrid) and associated partner institutions in China. It was funded by the European Commission in the frame of the Life Long Learning Programme.

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1.7 How Can We Plan Quality Management and Assessment in Online Tandem Settings?


1.7 How Can We Plan Quality Management and Assessment in Online Tandem Settings?

Two concepts will be discussed in this chapter, which may seem at first glance utterly incompatible if not contradictory – the concept of standardisation and quality management – closely linked to the concept of mass production and the management of Online Tandems – by its very nature a concept of highly individualised learning with varying personal goals and individual learning routes and rates. We will try to demonstrate that institutional settings offering structural assistance and guidance in non-formal Tandem arrangements and proceedings also need guidelines, standards and assessment rules, serving the learners interests: They can make outcomes both visible and comparable and provide advisors with a set of rules and principles for their continuous assistance in the learning process. We will also try to point out the limitations of standards and quality management in one-to-one settings and quote data from efforts we undertook in Jena to measure process quality.

Looking back into history, general concepts, procedures of quality management and standardisation have always come with or in the aftermath of economic expansion and/ or political developments towards unification and common standards. Back in the 1870s the standardisation and quality control of areas like industrial production (the DIN-Norm), currency systems (Deutsche Mark as common currency) and orthographical rules (Konrad Duden) followed the German unification of 1871 and laid the foundations of the economic success of the Pre-World-War I German Empire. The expansion of the Common Market in...

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