The Internet provides a wide range of information opportunities. Nevertheless, whatever characteristics information-and-subject environment may have, it is linguo-didactic tasks and peculiarities of students’ cognitive activity determined by particular goals of education that will be brought to the forefront. Therefore, distance learning in view of Internet resources is a fundamental means of realizing these tasks. At present, such form of education is most popular with working students.
However, fast development of information-and-subject environments in different languages may be observed on the Internet. A trained specialist who is expected to find his/her niche within rapidly developing technologies of developed countries should be well informed in his area. Modern means of connecting with partners, access to the Internet information resources assume proficient command of not only computer technologies but also foreign languages.
It is no coincidence that UNESCO announced our century to be the age of polyglots. The primary value at the age of informatisation is information. The specific feature of the subject “Foreign Language” is that the fundamental component of foreign language learning content is not scientific basis but work methods — teaching various speech activity types: speaking, listening, reading and writing. Therefore, in order to teach students different types of speech activity, one should provide each student with an ability to practise the speech activity type he/she is mastering now. Teaching speech activity is possible only in live communication. Thus, a partner is needed. In the process of computer telecommunications, the student can have a live conversation (oral or written) with the teacher or a group mate.
Basing on the subject specifics, knowing linguo-didactic features and functions of distance courses as well as their opportunities and resources, we may determine the types of goals that may be achieved by applying particular tasks. Only then, one can select methods of their application to distance learning.
Widespread occurrence of distance learning system is explained by its ability to solve a range of tasks society is faced with. Such form of education as distance learning contributes to raising society’s standard of scholarship, realization of its wide cross-sections’ needs for educational services regardless of a particular individual’s place of residence, raising qualification of high school teaching staff and making world community’s information space more available.
Foreign experience of teaching with the use of new information technologies is considerably greater than the Russian 1 though in international foreign language teaching practice this form of learning came into realization not long ago, but it quickly became popular and proved to be an effective tool in education. During the last 15 years, methodologists’ attention has been shifting from the use of educational computer programs to network resources. It is worth pointing out that a range of educational computer programs and training devices for distance learning already exists and is widely used. As for opportunities of network resources exploitation, in particular on-line courses and educational portals in terms of teaching non-linguistic students, they are still subjected to further research due to their comparatively recent appearance. An intending specialist’s foreign professional communicative competence under modern conditions must be developed regarding to the IT component.
Theoretical issues related to electronic linguo-didactics have been studied by scientists having psycho-pedagogical (A.G. Mordvinova, A.S. Akopova), methodological (E. L. Nosenko, M.M. Kenning and others) and information-and-technological (E.S. Polat, A.M. Dovgyallo, M. Khazen, N.M. Mekeko and others) viewpoints )
Having studied the problem of interactive technologies application in foreign language teaching, one may point out that linguistic community with the potential of ICT in mind is actively developing ways of enhancing effectiveness of teaching foreign language to non-linguistic students. We have conducted monitoring of existing Internet resources aimed at teaching a profession-oriented foreign language, which enabled us to single out the following types of network education-and-methodological resources:
- Portals of particular educational institutions’ internal networks offering material only for students of specific educational institutions.
- Foreign websites teaching professional language which generally include such speech activity types as reading and listening and leave speaking, writing and profession-oriented translation out of attention.
These network resources have several considerable disadvantages: absence of tasks aimed at developing students’ set of competences and lack of teacher-student interaction as types of the suggested tasks assume only automatic check of their correct fulfillment. Thus, today like never before the problem of developing ESP distance courses capable of eliminating all the above-listed drawbacks is topical for non-linguistic higher education institutions.
The use of information technologies in education should meet the following principles: correspondence of the aim of IT use to teaching purposes, complexity and systemacy, communicativeness and the situational factor, relevance and cognitive direction, adequacy, the use of computer aids as a learning tool, raising the level of difficulty, integrity of all learning activity forms.
Distance foreign language teaching is an essential component of the developing open education system. ICT implementation in educational process in general and in the process of distance foreign language teaching in particular allows realizing the concept of Life Long Learning.
The system of continuing education is oriented to a personality’s lifelong development, enhancing opportunities of his/her labor and social adaptation in the rapidly changing world; it aims at developing students’ abilities, their aspirations, opportunities and versatile self-development.
According to the State Educational Standard of Higher Professional Education, a graduate must be able both to continue education and to perform professional activity in foreign environment. For a long time scientists tried to find effective ways of distance learning. Apart from traditional printed aids, there appeared the use of telecommunication systems. Indeed, if a student cannot count on constant feedback from a qualified teacher there will be no learning in spite of educational process organizers’ efforts to make the process motivating and communicative, i.e. the success of any kind of distance learning depends on effective teacher-student interaction.
The World Bank, having analyzed the problem of distance education, came to the conclusion that on average 40 % of students who turned to distance learning with traditional methods usually did not complete their course of study because of isolation due to lack of interaction both with peers and with the teacher. Further study of distance telecommunication courses showed decrease of this tendency and a higher percentage of students who completed their studies with the use of ICT.
Unique didactic facilities of the Internet allow its effective use in distance learning. Having realized educational opportunities of global information systems, many countries are financing such projects. Obtaining higher education at university through the Internet is not considered to be something new in modern information-oriented society because the Internet enables students to use the resources of hyper computers, largest libraries and professional data bases. The Internet, just like any other modern information system, should be viewed as a powerful teaching means, which corresponds to the objectives and demands of modern pedagogical technologies such as constructivism, active learning, cooperative learning, etc.