The European Union recognizes SpeakApps project from UOC as an innovative project

The EU has recognised the potential of SpeakApps, the platform for oral language learning, a European R+D+I project coordinated by the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC) and headed by Christine Appel, a professor at the University’s School of Languages and Francesc Santanach and Muriel Garreta from the Office of Learning Technologies. The platform, funded by the European programme Lifelong Learning, aims to provide language teachers with the tools developed by the project to help them improve their students’ oral language skills.

At present, the Research and Transfer Support Office (OSRT) of the UOC is working on the evaluation and transfer of this project.

SpeakApps consists of a set of online tools for practising oral production and interaction when learning foreign languages. Videochat, Langblog and Tandem are directed at different types of activities and are suitable for all students, regardless of the level they have reached in a particular language.

Langblog is a tool for practising oral production. Videochat is a videoconferencing system for small groups. Tandem consists of a content manager for videoconferencing activities. Other activities and materials for language teaching have also been developed. These activities can be found in the SpeakApps Open Educational Resources repository where you can make searches by criteria and use the inbuilt editor to create tasks online.

EU evaluation

A final rating of 9 out of 10. This was the verdict of the agency and experts who evaluated the project for the European Commission. The report applauded the creativity and sustainability of SpeakApps, highlighting the optimum use of video tools and interactivity, as well as the large number of people involved in the pilot test, involving 7,180 students and 643 teachers.

The agency and experts also highlighted the dissemination of its results through the use of social networks such as YouTube, SlideShare, Picasa and Twitter, allowing the website to register 7,000 unique visitors and 27,000 pages visited.

In terms of financial management, it distinguished the distribution of objectives, making good use of the available funding.

The initiative

The three SpeakApps tools were initially funded by other subsidies. Langblog was funded by the subsidy scheme to support education of the Generalitat of Catalonia (MQD). Videochat was subsidised by an internal subsidy system at the UOC for innovation projects, APLICA, which is convened every year by the Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation at the University. In the case of Tandem, the tool obtained funding from both the MQD and APLICA schemes.

Participation of other universities

Later on, these tools were integrated in the SpeakApps project which was approved to seek funding from the European Lifelong Learning Programme, KA2 Languages 2010, as a result of which the UOC coordinated the project in partnership with the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, the University of the City of Dublin, the University of Jyväskylä (Finland) and the University of Jagellons (Poland).