Sixteenth Round of the HiT-1 Croatian Internet Course

This is an on-line course teaching Croatian as a second and foreign language that emerged from a collaborative effort by the Croatian Heritage Foundation, the University of Zagreb, and the University of Zagreb's SRCE University Computing Centre, with the support of the Croatian Ministry of Science and Education.

The latest, sixteenth round of the HiT-1 Croatian Internet Course kicked off on Monday the 5th of March. This is an on-line course teaching Croatian as a second and foreign language that emerged from a collaborative effort by the Croatian Heritage Foundation, the University of Zagreb, and the University of Zagreb's SRCE University Computing Centre, with the support of the Croatian Ministry of Science and Education.
Twelve participants have enrolled in this spring round, four of which have received a stipend from the State Office for Croats Abroad. They will participate in the course from their homes in North and South America, Europe and distant New Zealand, more precisely from nine countries (USA, Chile, Argentina, Peru, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Turkey/Croatia and New Zealand).
Marija Bošnjak, the head e-instructor and one of the authors of the course, says that, "I like to joke that the HiT e-course continues to be a hit. Seven years since the first trial HiT-1 course, namely, we have seen fifteen semesters, 150 participants from 36 countries from all the inhabited continents, we are delighted to continue this series and we will have the opportunity to meet new people in the sixteenth semester/round. To date the project leader professor Zrinka Jelaska, expert advisor and one of the course authors Lidija Cvikić and I have published a number of scientific and specialist papers and given a great number of lectures in which we have analysed and presented some of the results, but we are now at a point when some new analyses are required. The statistical data is very useful, but even without them it can be concluded that the course has thus far been attended largely by the descendants of Croatian emigrants, but that there have also been a number of foreign participants whose spouses hail from Croatia, and people enamoured of Croatian culture, history, its natural beauty who have an interest in also discovering the beauty of its language."
Given that every course involves people from countries across almost all time zones in relation to local Croatian time, organising and carrying out the live classes demands a high level of professionalism and flexibility, both from the participant and the instructor. Marija Bošnjak points out that in reading the final evaluations what stuck out were the responses in which the participants emphasised the importance of the live aspect of the course. Besides the many activities in the MoD e-system targeted to independent participant work, namely, she and her colleagues enjoy a cup of coffee or tea at 6 and 7 o'clock in the morning or 10 and 11 in the evening on Skype in live conference with each participant. Initially perhaps more about the Croatian language but—as the course progresses—increasingly in the Croatian language, which makes this course special and unique.
It has, in fact, been the live classes and the interesting and diverse content that has seen a very low drop out rate from the HiT course, as is borne out by the participants in their final evaluations. Here are a few:
During the Skype session, I found Professors they always try to encourage student even I did not do it well and this face to face (interactive) is a helpful to student going forward.
The time with the instructors was so important and helped my listening and speaking skills greatly improve.
My dear "profesorica" made each session quite enhancing and fun by adjusting to my level of understanding and knowledge, and made sure to maximize the benefit of communicative learning. Without those sessions this course would never be the same!
I LOVED the skype sessions. I think they were very important and I looked forward to them. I always left feeling like I knew more than I had before. It was one of the best things about the course!
I loved the use of Skype. It was great to review the material and interact in Croatian with the teachers to improve my vocabulary, grammar but also to train myself to speak in Croatian and to hear spoken Croatian in a conversation. This is crucial for learning another language, hearing and interacting with a native speaker is necessary.
Skype was awesome. I think the hardest part of learning a language is speaking. This is especially true when you are not surrounded entirely by the language. The live sessions are crucial to really learning I think. They were incredibly helpful. Thank you all.
I thought the Skype format was great. The face to face communication was so important. And the ability to combine written and oral communication was really helpful. 3 times a week might be too difficult to schedule, but these were so important to me. I would like as many as possible.
They were the only way in which students have a way to develop any speaking skills. I would not have enrolled in the course if there were no live sessions.
Only this type of online course, with the combination of Skype meeting and online practice, makes learning a language by myself enjoyable.
The course was in the development phase from 2009 to 2010 and had its first trial run in March of 2011. HiT-1 is a form of distance learning staged twice a year in spring and autumn semesters. It consists of seven instructional units that participants have a total of twelve weeks to master, in which they are assisted by experienced instructors and experts in Croatian as a foreign language Marija Bošnjak BA, Maša Musulin PhD, and Zrinka Kolaković BA. Instruction is interactive and the approach to learning the language individualised, which means that the content is adapted individually to the needs and capacities of each participant. The course is implemented through an e-learning system and includes a mandatory 24 hours of classes with an instructor via the Internet (Skype), when participants have an opportunity to speak directly with the e-instructors, native speakers of Croatian.

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By: Lada Kanajet Šimić

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