The first initiative of the studyFIT English Learning Support service is off to a resounding start after thousands of students registered their interest in taking part in the study. Speaking after the app launch on Wednesday 6 April 2022, Project Manager Dr Prue Goredema said, “The main down side is having to let so many students down; however, because of the nature of such large-scale studies, many of those who are currently wait-listed could see their fortunes change within a week or two.”
Arnaud Van Laere, a Project Manager at Altissia, the Belgium-based company behind the app, gave a live online presentation that was attended by around 150 FernUni students who are taking part in the pilot study. Van Laere explained that users can start off by taking a level test which is based on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). “If you already know your level you can explore the app regardless.” He showed students the key features of the platform, which include an assortment of lessons that teach functional language; vocab and grammar tests and a news section where students can avail themselves to in-built quizzes that are created daily for a selection of the articles. “We have cooperation agreements with several European news agencies and have found that this feature of Altissia is proving popular with users,” Van Laere added.
A pilot study
For FernUniversität, the idea is to have a thousand students try out the app and give feedback on its efficacy in developing learners’ competencies in the key language skills. The students’ engagement with the app and their progress in vocabulary acquisition, grammar, reading, pronunciation and speaking skills will give an indication of whether or not the app ought to be rolled out for the wider university community.
Next in line
With the pilot project now underway, attention can be paid to developing further English Learning Support measures for students of the FernUniversität. Next in line are bridging courses to train students in English for Specific Purposes – for example Business, Psychology or Law. With a selection of lecturers from all five faculties onboard to collaborate with studyFIT, the aim is to create courses that are open to all students – from enrolment through to graduation – if they need to improve their English skills to meet the demands of their chosen academic path. The feedback of students throughout the development of these courses will be essential, so do watch this space.