Theory and Practice in Language Studies, Vol 3, No 10 (2013), 1717-1725, Oct 2013

Designing a Curriculum for a Distance Learning Class: An Example of a First-year Japanese Course

Noriko Fujioka-Ito


Although technology has been integrated widely in foreign language courses and has shown positive results for foreign language learners, it is challenging to teach critical languages that do not have commercially developed, online-based textbook packages for distance learning courses. The distance separating students sometimes hinders the provision of learning experiences focused on social and cultural contexts in distance learning courses. This article discusses how online learning communities play important roles as networks of social relationships in which engagement and interaction are critical to the distance-learning courses. In online learning communities, the instructor’s scaffolding through the step-by-step process as well as collaboration with peers further helps enhance students’ success. In the course discussed in this article, students enrolled in a first-year Japanese distance-learning course developed basic communicative skills and increased their awareness of cultural differences through the instructor’s intervention and collaborative work with peers by using a combination of synchronous and asynchronous components of the course management system. The results of a nine-month investigation report students’ attitudes toward distance learning classes based on their feedback from a course survey.


curriculum development; distance-learning; intercultural competence; learner autonomy; online learning community


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