Navigating institutional teaching culture in implementing language ePortfolios

Theresa Schenker, Suzanne Young, David Malinowski

Abstract


Our article presents the case of ePortfolio use for university-level language learners in foreign, second, and heritage (L2) language classes. It outlines the multi-year initiative of a language center in a private university in the Northeastern U.S. to introduce and support the use of ePortfolios in language classes across its campus.  The article takes the form of a narrative in two parts, and in two voices. First, the authors outline the rationale, stages of planning, faculty training initiatives, and technical considerations from the vantage point of the language center’s ePortfolio initiative.  The second narrative portrays how this ePortfolio initiative took shape in one semester of an Advanced German course. There, the instructor experimented with ePortfolios to showcase students’ language skills and intercultural achievements, while cultivating their digital literacy. We argue that the potential for students to take ownership over their ePortfolios as tools for deeper academic and personal development resides significantly with their instructor’s pedagogical assumptions and approaches.  Further, we suggest that language learners’ sustained and deeper use of ePortfolios can be best supported not by a single classroom instructor acting alone, but through coordinated pedagogical, administrative, and technological support across the institution.


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