The context

The COVID-19 crisis and the unplanned shift to online content has given an unprecedented push to digital teaching and learning practices. But it has also exposed the gap for digital technologies to fully support high-quality and inclusive education, facilitate creative and collaborative student-centered learning. It has also negatively affected planned activities under the Erasmus+ programme.

The situation of language learning/teaching requires our full attention as language acquisition mainly takes place through interaction and usage. Following a trend developed even before the extreme context of the pandemic crisis, learners have developed new strategies to keep on practicing and have used an increasing number of external language apps.

This relates to the broader crucial question of the integration of informal learning in language education: How to take into account language practice outside the classroom walls? Many aspects of language learning development remain “invisible” : the learners develop informal practice and are hardly aware that it could support their formal learning.
At the same time, teachers ignore some practices that are part of the learners’ biography, with no transfer to the classroom context.

It has been confirmed that :

  • In the urgent Covid situation, most universities had to use pre-existing tools that were not specially addressing language teaching
  • Imitating face-to-face learning/teaching online is not satisfactory. The lack of natural communication in this context is a real concern.
  • Informal types of language practice already exist in the learners’ personal sphere, but generally not recognised by the institution.

DIAL4U aims at facilitating the evolution of teaching and training online in a key discipline supported by Erasmus : foreign languages.

The potential of informal learning has become highly recognized in research in the field of language didactics.
The use of digital technology provides a shift away from the classroom, taking instead the learners’ lives and their experiences as the central point for learning (White, 2006).

To understand the 21st century language learner, we need to understand the ongoing diversity of practice and, as educators, to recognize them. This informal learning question is indeed intrinsically linked to the digital transition one.

The project’s goals is to co-develop an innovative approach and digital tools :

  • To facilitate mediation in all dimensions of the language learning process (taking into account both formal and informal situations)
  • To build learning capacity and autonomy of all language-learners
  • To develop or upgrade the digital/blended pedagogy competence of language educators ;
  • To dacilitate the recognition and validation of knowledge, skills and competences.

This will be reached through motivating and recognising the students’ and teachers’ skills, including the use of Open Educational Resources.
The acquired results will be transferable, easy to share and verifiable at a distance, thanks to open badges, micro-credentials, stored in Europass and in the European Blockchain Service Infrastructure (EBSI).

Based upon the analysis of the needs, and these 4 goals, DIAL4U will follow 4 steps, developed through 4 Intellectual Outputs (IO)

  • (IO1) Database on both formal and informal digital pedagogy/content for language learning mediation
  • (IO2) Develop virtual reality and gamification for inclusion and Language Learning interaction
  • (IO3) Enhance multimodal language learning and teaching material to develop autonomy
  • (IO4) Allow recognition and validation of non-formal and informal Language Learning process through badges and micro-credentials.


The informal language learning validation and recognition process questioned in the DIAL4U project will tackle the gap for digital technologies as this informal learning question is intrinsically linked to the digital transition one: many of these informal language-learning practices are digital, and their successful articulation to formal learning and recognition will be improved with digital tools.

The project will also contribute to equip teachers and learners with reflexive tools to develop a critical approach and conceptual tools required for a successful mediation of these newly identified types of practice.

Overall, the DIAL4U project will contribute to taking up digital technologies and open pedagogies in language teaching and learning, participating to the development of high quality inclusive language education in Europe.

Consortium and European added value

The answer to the problems raised cannot be found individually at the national level but rather at the European level, with representatives from 8 different countries and 10 languages. The DIAL4U consortium comprises 8 universities from 8 countries, originating from the INCLUSU project (France, Germany, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain and Sweden).

The variety of educational and cultural backgrounds of the eight partners provides a scientific validity and offers complementary competences for a multilingual collaboration, with partners that have a previous experience of collaboration.

The four Intellectual Outputs will be jointly coordinated by two universities. The other partners will take an active part in the implementation of the intellectual outputs by providing their expertise to perform the tasks identified. Throughout the project, several events will contribute to collaborative work, develop testing and then dissemination.

The synergy of the partnership will lead to the official recognition of language competences at European level and this project is an essential step towards that goal.

Co-funded by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union.
This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This website reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained here in.