The modern world makes many demands on the spheres of production and economics as well as on education. Education also needs adaptation and response to changes in the era instantly. The emerging total digital environment will make it possible to optimize the resources that humanity uses. Digitalization is one of the main trends of our time. Now more and more digital technologies are being introduced into education. Changes in systems of activity, technology and digital culture have influenced on the digitalization of education.
With the development of international business contacts and the expansion of professional cooperation with foreign specialists, the need for specialists who speak foreign languages has increased. The development of new foreign technologies has also needs for specialists knowing English. These specialists are required by an increasing number of companies and institutions, and the existing demand for languages determines the opening of foreign language courses, linguistic centers and other educational institutions offering services for teaching foreign languages .
Today the pandemic has brought new requirements to the educational process, and due to the current circumstances in the field of education, attention is paid to distant learning or online education, which involves communication between teachers and students at a distance through computer telecommunication networks. Distant learning is an independent form of learning, in which the interaction of the teacher and students, students with each other is carried out at a distance and reflects all the components inherent in the educational process, such as goals, content, methods, organizational forms, teaching aids .
The main part
The theory and practice of teaching foreign languages at the present stage has a specific feature — the teacher is not only a source of knowledge but also acts as a leader and organizer of the learning process which involves helping the student in choosing the required educational direction, as well as the active use of new educational technologies such as materials of educational portals, electronic textbooks, podcasting, screen casting, blended learning . Distant education in learning foreign languages allows:
— gaining knowledge without visiting an educational institution;
— learn the language on your own using the proposed distance learning courses;
— systematize and deepen existing knowledge;
— prepare for exams in any educational institution.
All components of the educational process in distant learning are implemented by specific means of Internet technologies or other interactive technologies. For example, e-learning is the organization of educational activities using the following:
a) information contained in databases and used in the implementation of educational programs;
b) information technology and technical means ensuring its processing;
c) information and telecommunication networks that ensure the transmission of the specified information via communication lines,
d) interaction of students and teaching staff .
Currently, e-learning abroad is the result of the integration of distance learning and traditional education. In Russia, e-learning is a learning using modern information technologies and the Internet, anywhere, anytime . Today, the classical education system is on the verge of a major strategic transformation brought by the digital revolution. And already at the start, it is important to understand what methods and tools will lead to the fastest reformation of the education system to meet the needs of the modern world, how a classical school can prove its effectiveness and relevance among people of a new reality.
The main trends in digital transformation of education require a flexible approach to the construction of educational programs, the market declares the need for versatile and creative employees who have a portfolio of studied courses as well as the skills and experience in applying the knowledge gained. Digital learning is the process of organizing interaction between educators and learners while moving from goal to result in a digital educational environment, the main means of which are digital technologies, digital tools and digital traces, as the results of educational and professional activities in a digital format .
The specificity of the subject “Foreign language” is in its activity basis, which provides for the need to organize the independent activity of students, to provide each student with sufficient practice in the appropriate type of speech activity, in the exercise to form appropriate skills. The long history of the methods development of teaching foreign languages in the world shows that the study of foreign languages is most effective if it is based on three main patterns identified by domestic scientists :
1. When mastering any kind of speech activity, it is necessary to rely on hearing-motor skills, i.e. oral exercises should be the basis of teaching any kind of speech activity.
2. Mastering a foreign language provides for the need to rely on the native language of the trainees, which ensures a conscious and a more solid assimilation consequently.
3. Regardless of the chosen method of learning a foreign language, teaching must be built in such a way that a system of language is formed in the mind of the learner.
Thus, when developing the concept of distant learning in foreign languages, it is necessary to take into account the didactic properties and functions of telecommunications as a technological basis for teaching. On the other hand, the conceptual directions of the didactic organization of such training as an element of the general education system at the modern level has also been taken into consideration. In addition, it is necessary to take into account the specifics of teaching foreign languages, for example, the above-mentioned patterns, which are equally recommended for any training system, and the conceptual provisions of a specific methodological system that are selected when developing for a specific course.
The general conceptual provisions of the pedagogical foundations of distant learning are as follows :
1) the basis of teaching foreign languages remotely should be the independent practice of each student in the type of speech activity that he is currently mastering;
2) the activities of each student should be built under the guidance of an experienced teacher, i.e. based on interactivity. The educational process should be structured in such a way that the teacher has the opportunity to track, correct, control and evaluate the activities of the students throughout the course systematically;
3) the independent activity of the student needs effective feedback both in relation to the educational material used — operational internal feedback, which provides the possibility of self-control, and external feedback when working in groups, during contacts with a teacher;
4) during the learning process the student must have a variety of contacts with partners in the course (paired, group, collective), with a server curator or a teacher in addition to the training course;
5) the types of independent activities should also be varied: individual, pair, group (learning in small groups on the principle of learning in cooperation — co-regulatory learning), with the entire group of the course (conferences, collective discussions).
The main methodological principles having the conceptual significance for the organization of such a training system are the following:
— the communicative principle, which is ensured not only in contacts with a teacher, but mainly when working in small groups (training in cooperation), when using a variety of problematic tasks, developing joint projects, including international ones, with a native speaker, when working with a variety of information received by students from various databases, conferences of the Internet and regional networks, libraries and scientific, cultural centers of the world;
— the principle of conscience, which provides for relying on a certain system of rules that precede the formation of a skill and give the students an idea of the language system being studied;
— the principle of reliance on the native language of trainees, which should be reflected in the organization of trainees familiarization with new language material when forming an indicative basis for actions;
— the principle of visibility, which provides for various types and forms of visibility: linguistic visibility (selection of authentic texts of speech samples, functional features of the studied language material in a certain cultural environment of the target language country); visual visibility when using multimedia, organizing video conferences; auditory visibility, which provides the need to use certain programs of sound blaster tools, as well as the organization of audio conferences;
— the principle of accessibility, which is ensured in distance courses due to the appropriate development of educational material of different complexity levels as well as due to the interactive mode of operation; interactivity is a key word not only in the general didactic sense in distant learning but it takes on a special meaning when organizing foreign language learning at a distance;
— the principle of a positive emotional background that forms a stable motivation for each student for learning. It is extremely important in the distant learning system and is achieved by the specific organization of the course itself, the system of established relationships in the learning process between the teacher and the students, between the students and it is also been in the ideology of the learning process. In a full-time training system the creation of an atmosphere of goodwill, mutual understanding and trust is of great importance for the success of training, and with a distant learning system it is one of the decisive conditions for success. These principles are of methodological importance for the successful teaching of foreign languages remotely .
In our opinion, the following factors are important for organizing the distant learning process:
1. Selection and organization of language material in accordance with the goals and objectives of the course.
2. Structuring the course, its methodological and technological organization.
3. Clear planning of the group's work (organization of small groups, conferences), systematic reporting (individual, group reporting).
4. Organization of systematic consultations with the teacher and the server curator.
5. Establishing and maintaining a positive emotional background in the group as a whole and for each student individually.
Due to restrictive measures and a self-isolation regime during a pandemic, almost all spheres of life of a modern person have changed significantly under the influence of computer and information technologies. This fact concerns the education sector, since the digital transformation of the education system is one of the priority areas of development around the world. In this regard, modern methods and approaches to teaching via the Internet are being developed and tested.
In the available publications and studies, the international Web system is considered primarily from the point of view of its functionality in the life of society and the educational process. Many functions of the Internet include: research, vehicle function, communication, learning, archival, commercial, information and publishing ones. The Internet acts as a means of intercultural communication of students with native speakers of the studied language, with cultural Others, and therefore we consider the Internet from the standpoint of its communication capabilities.
The following forms of communication on the Internet are distinguished: e-mail, teleconferences, instant messaging systems (ICQ, IRC), forums. From the point of view of organizing the communication process, all these communication methods can be divided into 2 groups:
1) on-line communication — ICQ, chat or IRC (Internet Relay Chat) — real-time communication when the interlocutors are simultaneously on the line (synchronous interaction );
2) off-line communication — e-mail, forums, when interlocutors exchange messages at different times (asynchronous interaction) .
Let’s start our overview of the communications capabilities of the Internet with e-mail. Electronic mail is one of the most popular types of computer communication services, used in almost all areas of human production. With its help contacts are established as well as important organizational issues are resolved. E-mail combines the functions of sending paper mail, parcels of ordinary human mail. Along with an e-mail, you can send any file — text (for example, an e-book), graphic (photographs and drawings), sound (message or song in MP3 format) .
A teleconference service is similar to an e-mail broadcast, in which a single message is sent to one correspondent or to large groups called newsgroups. The entire teleconferencing system is divided into thematic groups. Today there are about 50,000 thematic newsgroups in the world. The main technique for using newsgroups is to ask a question to the world and get an answer or advice from those who have already figured it out. Many qualified professionals around the world (designers, engineers, scientists, doctors, educators, lawyers, writers, journalists, programmers and others) regularly view newsgroups held in groups related to their field of activity .
A type of computer communication technology that mimics natural conversation is called instant messaging. There are 2 ways of organizing such systems: dialog (ICQ) and polylog (IRC). ICQ (from the English “I seek you”) is a kind of Internet pager with a two-way communication. In addition to sending short messages ICQ has other capabilities which include the ability to send files, send voice messages and some others. One of the main advantages of ICQ is the possibility of advanced search for people: by interests, by region, by name, etc. According to various estimates ICQ is used by hundreds of thousands to several million people every day. IRC (Internet Relay Chat) is designed for direct communication of several people in real time. IRC is sometimes referred to as chat conferencing or just chat. Unlike the teleconferencing system where communication between the participants in the discussion of a topic is open to the whole world, in the IRC system the communication occurs only within one channel, where only a few people usually take part. In addition, teleconferencing is considered most often about a specific subject, and chat rooms are mostly about communication for the sake of communication. Each user can create their own channel and invite participants in the “conversation” or join one of the currently open channels .
As a separate form of communication on the Internet, one can single out communication in the so-called MUDs from “multi-user dimension” . It is a role-playing game in which many users are united in one virtual space, which is close to chatting with what happens online, but differs from it in the presence of a goal, that is the desire to win. Gamification is considered today as one of the methodologies that increase the effectiveness of an educational product. Teachers help to involve the learners into the process, help them to present information correctly and to facilitate perception. Game-based learning or serious games sets educational and developmental, but not entertaining goals, helps to practice skills.
The BYOD (Bring-Your-Own-Device)  trend originated in the business community and since that time it has taken root in education. The idea is to use student-owned gadgets and digital devices in the educational process. This approach changes the pattern of relationships between teachers and students. Instead of their previous role as a source of information and knowledge, teachers have a new role of an administrator of students who have access to network resources.
A forum is a time-delayed communication consisting of a set of statements dedicated to a specific topic. The forum is based on fragmentary messages, it develops its own means of organizing communication and therefore is more focused on the exchange of information. The forums support the topic of communication deliberately: exchange of experience, help in solving problems, discussion of materials . We can add Viber, WhatsApp, Telegram as communication in real time.
Podcast, being one of the most popular ways of learning a language, is very widespread on the Internet. The concept of podcasting has emerged from the widespread adoption of Apple’s iPod portable media players. The combination of the two words ‘iPod’ and ‘broadcasting’ has given a new concept to podcasting. And the term ‘podcasting’ refers to a way of distributing audio or video information on the Internet. According to P. Constantine, “podcast is a term that is used to refer to a digital recording of a radio program of files. Podcasts are published on the Internet as MP3 files. Interested listeners have the opportunity to download these files to a personal computer or any type of MP3 player. These files can be listened to anytime, anywhere. You can listen to podcasts multiple times. They can be either short (2 to 3 minutes) or long (up to 1 hour). Students can subscribe to the RRS link ”.
One of the main methodological mechanisms for the inclusion of students in virtual intercultural communication is the use of the discursive method. Discourse is the product of speech activity, the realization of certain communicative desires, goals in the context of a certain communicative situation, expressed by linguistic and non-linguistic means that are characteristic to this situation. Discourse can be an element of any specific conversation, the use of which concerns any specific objects in a specific setting, in a specific context. It can refer to a specific historical period, a social community, or an entire culture . The discourse method is a way of teaching the perception and production of discourse, i.e. the product of a foreign language speech in the context of a specific communicative situation and in relation to a specific partner . The peculiarity of this method is that it includes all the methods discussed above.
In the preparation process for the implementation of intercultural communication via the Internet, we selected the types of discourses that are relevant to the spheres and situations where intercultural communication can take place. Then we identified and studied situations of informal and official communication in the everyday sphere (meeting with friends in a virtual city, in a virtual cafe, orientation in an unfamiliar place, etc.); occupational and social cultural spheres in which selected discourses are used. We held a discussion where the analysis of the communicators’ actions took place from the point of view of their adequacy to the communicative goal and situation of communication. The correctness of the discourse choice and the organization of virtual intercultural communication were also taken into consideration. The organization of this methodological mechanism was based on the use of the project method, which sometimes included all other forms of work.
When implementing a project, especially an intercultural and telecommunication project, it is necessary to study realities, regional geographic comments, communicative clichés, and authentic texts. At the same time, intercultural telecommunication projects make it possible to solve the most difficult and the most essential task that is the creation of a language environment and, on its basis, the creation of the need to use a foreign language in practice. In the scientific and methodological literature , an educational telecommunication project is understood as a joint educational, cognitive, creative activity of student partners who have a common problem, goal, methods of activity aimed at achieving a common joint result. The structure of the educational telecommunications project was considered by us as part of the following mandatory components: the goal of the project; time frame of the project; algorithm for the implementation of the project; the most interesting sites used in the project.
The organization of intercultural communication based on the use of Internet resources, on platforms such as
Zoom  is a unique opportunity for us in the sense of creating a real language environment. No other methods and technical means have ever allowed us to create such conditions before.
It is necessary to note some features of the psychological impact of virtual communication, its positive impact on students. First, because of the increasing isolation background and low sociability of the individual in the modern world, the Internet makes it easy to establish contacts in the media environment. The search for a circle of interaction allows you to find the material you are interested in, to get acquainted with different points of view on the problem, to stimulate creativity and your own activity, changing an authoritarian style of communication to a democratic one. Secondly, one of the positive factors of computer communication is the absence of pressure from the stereotypes of a particular dialogue that are developing in a close social environment.
We can conclude that distant learning is the learning at a distance, i.e. in a situation where the learner is distant. New information technologies, including digital ones, open up new opportunities for the development of intellectual, creative, spiritual potencies of a person. They require adequate pedagogical technologies without fitting into the framework of traditional education systems. It becomes obvious that the Internet is becoming the basis of the educational process all over the world. We may say that distant learning has several advantages:
— studying in the student’s place of residence, geographically remote from educational institutions;
— choosing a language course at the request of the student;
— choosing the time and pace of training;
— receiving the education for disabled children who do not attend an educational institution.
The teacher’s use of the methodological mechanisms described above makes learning more comfortable: students are not afraid of negative assessments, gain self-confidence, and the volume of the material they learn increases; their cognitive activity and independence are growing; the nature of the relationship between them changes, cohesion increases; self and mutual respect grows simultaneously with criticality; students acquire essential communication skills and the ability to assess oneself and others adequately. In addition to the formal linguistic experience acquired through telecommunications, we can say that today the use of Internet resources is the most effective and affordable way of enriching the experience of intercultural communication and mastering intercultural literacy in the context of real communication.
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