MOOCs support the idea of distributed intelligence and life-long learning, open learning, open educational resources and represent a new generation of online education that encourages development and delivery of courses that are massive, open, participatory. Within this perspective, they have been identified as “the most important trend in education” by the Horizon Report in 2013.
Around 20 million new learners signed up for their first MOOC in 2017, taking the total number of learners to 78 million. This growing interest opens big opportunities for language education. Language competences and intercultural skills nowadays are, more than ever before, key qualifications for every citizen in every part of the world. Foreign language skills are in high demand and the need for related online courses is widespread. At this point, language MOOCs constitute an interactive language learning environment, offering unlimited entry and addressing vast numbers of participants. On the other hand, several researches state that there are still many issues related to second language acquisition through MOOCs. Despite the enormous number of courses provided, the number of language MOOC initiatives is relatively small, compared to the number of learners.
In the light of aforementioned lack of language skills and the increasing importance of MOOCs in education, within the scope of Speak English-MOOC Project, our aim is to develop a 6-week language MOOC to improve adult learners’ practical speaking skills, based on an in-depth analysis of their needs, and to offer a platform hosting the content prepared. The content of the speaking lessons will be built upon tasks that reflect everyday situations and interactive contexts. Such a communicative stance echoes the basic premises of Transfer Appropriate Processing (TAP) in which information is best retrieved in situations that are similar to how it is processed. Since the aim of MOOCs is to guide learners communicating in the target language, situations similar to real life contexts would help them to transfer information and expressions they use in these situations into the actual speaking contexts in the outside world.