The European Parliament and Council of Europe recommend eight key competences for every citizen of the knowledge society. Competences include communication in the mother tongue and in foreign languages; digital and technological competence; learning to learn; intercultural and social competences. Teachers more than anyone need to develop and continually enhance these competences, and they need to be equipped with the skills to independently acquire new knowledge and apply this knowledge in their teaching. The Lisbon strategy states explicitly the need to “take steps to ensure that all the teachers involved are qualified in the use of these [new] technologies”.
In general, language teacher training is well supported by individual institutions and organisations; there is also no shortage of good online materials for online teaching of languages (e.g. Graham Davies’ overview). However, much effort and cost in creating online language learning material can be wasted without the adequate training of teachers to use it: they often do not go beyond dealing with the technical skills necessary for teaching in an online environment.
In contrast to other projects (e.g. Medienpass, EUROVOLT, ICT4LT) that focus on full-time language teachers, DOTS does not make any assumptions about its users. The project will focus on the social skills of community building, language teaching skills, and the skills to teach creatively and develop a personal teaching style in an online medium. Apart from English, DOTS offers materials prepared in five European languages (German, Spanish, Catalan, Croatian, Polish). A reflective approach allows teachers with different institutional backgrounds and different mother tongues to train themselves online independently and collaboratively with peers.
The participating institutions have ample experience in the training of tutors and teachers for online language courses, in synchronous and asynchronous with a strong focus of selecting the best tools for specific pedagogic purposes.