Implementation of Hot Potatoes program in the independent work of language major undergraduates

The article is devoted to the issues and forms of independent work organization of language major undergraduates of higher educational institutions, namely the implementation of the Hot Potatoes program in the educational process within the framework of students' independent work. The following concepts «self- education», «self-regulated learning», «personality-oriented approach», «differentiated approach», «general- purpose program- shell» are considered. These concepts are reviewed in the context of the continuity of education, as well as a person-oriented program that assumes the capacity for independent learning activities. The authors have presented a concrete successful example of the implementation of the Hot Potatoes program on German Language study as a second foreign language in the independent work of students of the specialty «Foreign Philology (English)», for exemplare, the ability to compose assignments for different linguistic aspects and types of speech activity (vocabulary, grammar, writing); the possibility for students to choose the types of assignments in accordance with their needs; the ability to compile different types of exercises / assignments (JMatch, compliance questions, JMix, sequence recovery, JCloze, filling the gaps, JCross, crossword); the ability to compose tasks of varying degrees of complexity.

The development of modern higher education system is determined by two main trends: the continuity as the basic conceptual policy of education as well as a personality-oriented approach that presupposes the ability for independent learning activity. Personality-oriented approach to education, including particularly language higher education, is fixed in the state educational standards, which define the goals, content, and methodology of teaching. The educational system is challenging with the complicated and important task of developing lifelong learning systems that provide a link between general education, on-the-job training and labor market needs and helping everyone to maximize their personal potential in society based on knowledge and competence [1]. The main principles of modern education, proclaimed by the International Commission on Education, Science and Culture at the UN (UNESCO) are «education for everyone» and «education through lifetime», i.e. to replace the traditional paradigm of «education for life» has come a new paradigm «education through lifetime». This fact presumes that a qualified specialist has to be competent in the sphere of his professional activity and competitive in the labor market, ready for continuous professional growth, continuous self-improvement and self-development throughout his whole life [2].

Thus, the key determinants of modern education are the concepts of self-development, selfeducation, personality-oriented approach. The term «self-education» according to R.R. Sagitova has several definitions:

  • – self-directed learning — self-directed training providing personal responsibility for planning, implementing and evaluating one's own learning;
  • – self-education — self-learning, self-directed, personality-oriented learning, involving internal mental changes in the personality, a high degree of responsibility for the plans, goals and outcomes of education;
  • – autonomous learner — self-directed education, autonomous educational efforts based on self-control, personal responsibility for the choice of the subjects and means of learning;
  • – highly intentional learning — «target-oriented» training. Intent (plan, purpose) is a primary feature of subjective activity and self-educational activity of an individual;
  • – self-adjustable training — the learning carried out by students without pedagogical leadership, the process by which students activate and support cognitive behavior oriented towards the achievement of certain goals [3].

By kazakh authors the self-education is a form of independent work of students, it allows a person to adapt to changing conditions and the content of professional work, promotes the enhancement of professional competence [4].

In the context of self-education, self-directed learning, the concept of «self-regulated learning» is also important for implementation. According to R.R. Sagitova, self-regulating learning is the process and resultof educational and pedagogical interaction, during which on the development of self-regulation mechanisms basis the student have a considerable possibility to move to a higher level of subjective development [3; 37].

Weinert defines self-regulating learning as a form of learning, in which a student can determine independently what, when and how to learn [5].

Within the self-regulated learning the student himself regulates the following factors:

  • – the purpose of the learning process (why should this be learnt?);
  • – the content of the learning process (what should be learnt);
  • – the ways and forms of learning (how to learn? What tools better to use? To choose individual work or work in groups);
  • – regulation of learning (when, where, how long should be learnt);
  • – checking the results.

However self-regulated learning does not mean that the learner can autonomously plan and regulate his educational process. In contrast to autonomous learning, self-regulated learning is organized under the guidance of a teacher who acts as the organizer of the learning process, a consultant and a methodologist, and helps students to determine the learning goals, methods, methods and content of training correctly [6].

Thus, education oriented towards a learner means the possibility of student's own choice in question of the content of the task (what is needed to be worked on more: vocabulary, grammar or listening), ways to accomplish the task (how to perform the task), regulation of the task (when, where and how often to perform the task). Self-regulated learning, learner-centered learning involves the use of various effective learning strategies [7]. With self-regulated learning, the learner should be able to build his learning goals in accordance with his needs, plan and organize his own learning process, through appropriate strategies (learning strategies, control strategies) to regulate the learning process [8].

R.Hiemstra singles out the following characteristics of self-regulated learning:

  • – each learner is given the opportunity to take responsibility in and in organizing his educational and cognitive activities;
  • – self-regulated learning allows for various social forms of work, which means that the learner is not isolated from others;
  • – learners who acquire knowledge in the course of self-regulated learning are the most adapted to the application of acquired competencies in changing conditions;
  • – self-regulating learning involves a variety of different methods and means of teaching [9].

With self-regulated learning, the learner ceases to be only a «consumer» of knowledge; he becomes an active creative participant in the educational process, the creator of his own educational product.

As is known, the effective knowledge of a foreign language presupposes first of all the ability to work independently on mastering a language, to maintain and constantly replenish its knowledge, to improve skills, to develop a communicative and information culture. In this regard, the independent learning activity of the student as the basis for productive language education becomes an essential component of the educational process.

The ideal way to encourage students to study independently is the implementation of the computer usage in education process, in particular the applying of ready-made software packages, so-called universal shell programs:

  • – the use of a computer as well as interactive functions of universal shell programs makes it possible to present assignments in a more interesting, creative, thus attractive form for students;
  • – the use of universal shell programs allows taking into account the individual abilities of students, i.e. differentiated approach in the preparation of tasks;
  • – interactive functions of universal shell programs (hint, error indication, showing the percentage of correct answers) allow students to work independently, i.e. without the participation of the teacher to regulate and control their education process;
  • – interactive functions of universal shell programs allow students to create tasks themselves, i.e. act as a producer.

Hence, the use of a computer for self-regulated / independent learning is optimal, since the machine allows everyone to work at a certain pace, does not criticize, does not lose self-control, is always ready to help, responds promptly, enables the use of different tools in one system [10].

Hot Potatoes can be fairly named as one of the popular universal shell programs, which allows the students to create interactive learning applications by themselves, without being an expert in the field of ICT. The main advantages of the program are free access to downloading and use as well as the possibility of using it offline.

We would like to show how to use the Hot Potatoes program effectively within the independent work of students under the guidance of a teacher, using the example of studying the German language as the second foreign student of the specialty «Foreign Philology (English)» (group KEF-22). Here it should be noted how the Hot Potatoes program integrates into the educational process, students work in this program both ways in the classroom and outside the classroom, independently, offline, at home.

Lexical theme of the lesson: Verkehrsmittel. Reisen; grammatical theme: trennbare und untrennbare Verben (separable and inseparable prefixes), the main textbook is «Menschen. Deutsch als Fremdsprache A1».

Therefore, one of the tasks that can be compiled in the Hot Potatoes program is JMatch, questions on compliance, basically students must match the sets of words.

The students had to determine the correspondences between the words Bus, Flugzeug, Zug, U-Bahn, Straßenbahn, Flughafen, Gleis, Halt, Station, Haltestelle. In the column on the left, a fixed list of words is entered: Bus, Flugzeug, Zug, U-Bahn, Straßenbahn, and in the column to the right — Flughafen, Gleis, Halt, Station, Haltestelle, which were confused, and from them students matched the elements of the fixed list.

The tasks were presented in three formats:

  • – matching by moving items with the computer mouse (Fig. 1);
  • – matching cards.

During performing matching cards, the card with the text from the same task field appears in the screen of the beginning (Fig. 3), after clicking on the Next card button, two cards with the correct matching option (Fig. 4).

This kind of task is well suited to work with vocabulary, and it allows students to better memorize vocabulary, and memorize not just individual words, but words in a certain context.


The next type of task restoring the sequence (JMix) is especially useful for fixing grammatical themes, in our case it is verbs with separable and inseparable prefixes. Students had to make sentences from given words. Figure 5 shows a proposal with a separable prefix, in Figure 6 with an inseparable prefix respectively.


After completing the assignment, students were required to classify separable and inseparable prefixes. This type of assignment allowed students to determine the inseparable prefixes independently, since in the classroom they were presented only separable prefixes.

Another type of task that can be used to better understanding and memorizing the vocabulary filling in the blanks/gaps (JCloze).

These are closed-type questions that require the insertion of words or letters into left spaces - gaps. Students were asked to fill in the gaps by inserting missed words (Fig. 7).

All the above tasks were compiled by the teacher, and as a final stage of work on the lexical theme of Verkehrsmittel / Reisen. Students were asked to compose a crossword on the topic (Fig. 8). Compiling a crossword students have been working with the Langenscheidt monolingual dictionary «Taschenwörterbuch. Deutsch als Fremdsprache».

In fulfilling the tasks compiled in the Hot Potatoes program, the students repeated, memorized and expanded their knowledge of the lexical and grammatical topics.

In the course of the work we have revealed the following advantages of the Hot Potatoes program implementation:

  • – the ability to compose assignments for different linguistic aspects and types of speech activity (vocabulary, grammar, writing);
  • – the possibility for students to choose the types of assignments in accordance with their needs;
  • – the ability to compile different types of exercises / assignments (JMatch, compliance questions, JMix, sequence recovery, JCloze, filling the gaps, JCross, crossword);
  • – the ability to compose tasks of varying degrees of complexity;
  • – the possibility for students to choose the types of tasks in accordance with their capabilities;
  • – the possibility of solving difficulties and problems without the teacher's help (interactive modes: hint, indication of an error, showing the percentage of correct answers);
  • – the possibility for students to choose a social form of work (individually, in pairs or in a group);
  • – the ability to perform tasks repeatedly in accordance with their needs;
  • – the ability to perform tasks regardless of time and location;
  • – the possibility of self-control (interactive modes: indication of an error, showing the percentage of correct answers);
  • – the opportunity for students to act as producers, to compose different types of assignments.

It can be concluded that the work with the Hot Potatoes program allows students to organize their educational activities independently, to perform certain types of assignments, according to their needs and capabilities, which in turn fosters the development of the ability to analyze and reflect. It should be noted that the work with the Hot Potatoes program also contributes to the formation of critical thinking, self-analysis and self-control, increasing motivation, developing the creative potential of students.



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Year: 2018
City: Karaganda
Category: Pedagogy