The development of digital competence, the new challenge facing language professors

The possibilities for letting imagination fly and involving creativity in language classes are greater every day.

Teaching and learning a new language today are not limited to simply attending a class along with your classmates and making use of a professor seen as the possessor of information. Language classes today have transformed into small universes, environments of communication and constant change that allow for developing a variety of contents that were not considered previously and all this thanks to the technology that we now have at our disposal.

This is due to two fundamental aspects: on the one hand, the belief that the application of a communicative approach allows professors to better encourage effective language communication in the students—goal and, on the other hand, the recognition and appreciation of the possibilities offered through the technologies of information and communication, known as TIC in Colombia. The latter leads to the necessity of developing a new skill in the teaching staff: digital competence. So, it is worth asking yourself the following question: Am I a technophile or technophobe?

One of the characteristics of the ideal language professor is that he or she makes use of the TIC in the carrying out of the teaching labors. This implies that the professors be involved in the development of their own digital competence, that they can function comfortablly in digital environments all the while being aware of the need to take advantage of the didactic potential of the TIC and encourage their students to also use them as a means of increasing their learning, especially so that they become more autonomous learners.

Professors must have the capacity to use the digital resources available in an effective way in the development of their work; this requires thinking about the resources available or at their reach with the aim of using them in the best possible way. The professors that make use of the TIC to develop their own professional profile have to see themselves in a critical light and consider their commitment to improving their digital competence, which requires curiosity to fully develop.

Today, language professors must be open to change; using the TIC to teach language classes allows for experimenting with new learning environments and with the backing of interesting resources. In general, these are professors who have a keen awareness and interest in innovation.

The professors who are aware of and make use of new technologies in their labors must be constantly updating themselves, be cognizant of the speed at which the world of technologies is moving, train themselves through courses focused on TIC, become an active participant in digital communities and seek to share and reflect on these elements with their colleagues.

The offerings available on the internet go far beyond social networks. There are applications for recording and editing both audio and video; platforms that allow for the creation of animation; there are also tools for photography, discussion forums, platforms for creating stories in video and even working with avatars.

Selecting, producing, communicating, editing and sharing in the new didactic-technological environments leads to the creation of meaningfulness in the L2 classrooms. For which reason, the understanding of the digital environments for exploring proposals, for example, gaming, storytelling and transmedia, without a doubt will help make classes more dynamic and promote production in the language—the goal of a more natural and creative method, which says a lot about the professor that makes use of the TIC in the classroom. So, technophobe or technophile?