The OUUK has been teaching distance courses in languages for more than ten years. Students learn by means of specially-designed course materials, increasingly web-based resources and through direct interaction with tutors, who provide personalised feedback on the students’ assignments as well as offering tutorials for communicative practice. The role of OUUK tutors embraces, however, more than just teaching and giving feedback. They play a central role in supporting students in every aspect of their learning, forming the interface between the institution and the learner. The importance of the tutor role in ODL in general has been the subject of some informative research, but much less has been written about the skills needed by tutors of languages at a distance. This international research project has been set up to address this shortfall, and to gather evidence and insights into this particular role. The project aims to investigate the skills, attributes and (e-)competencies required by language tutors of whom a substantial number deliver the tuition online. Initially, a selected group of OUUK language tutors generated what they perceived to be the knowledge, skills and attributes necessary to carry out this complex and demanding role which included the requisite skills for online tuition delivery. In the next stage the outcomes they had produced were refined and regrouped by the researchers. In the third stage a wider sample of tutors commented and added to the listings. This paper will report on the findings so far and summarise the next stages which are planned
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