Godwin-Jones, R. (2018). Second language writing online: An update. Language Learning & Technology, 22(1), 1–15.
This timely article on second language writing reflects the increasing interest in L2 writing in the digital age. Digital technology offers new tools and opportunities for language learners to build their writing skills through authentic writing activities in social media, computer-mediated communications, such as texting, and in online communication with peers as well as collaborative writing using tools such as Google Docs. The author provides a comprehensive review of recent research in this area and an accessible introduction to digital tools for evaluating writing such as digital annotators and automated writing evaluation (AWE) software. The author contends that given the proliferation of digital tools and new writing environments for language learners there is a need for enhanced teacher training to enable the effective use of these tools.
Retrievable from: http://www.lltjournal.org/item/3025
María Dolores Castrillo, Elena Martín-Monje & Elena Bárcena Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED), Spain. 10th International Conference Mobile Learning 2014.
This report on a six-week study with 85 volunteers explores the use of WhatsApp, an instant messaging application for smart phones in a second language writing class. The application allows mobile-based chatting and collaboration in the negotiation of meaning in the student volunteers’ exchanges. WhatsApp is a tool the students already used on their phones and allowed the researchers to explore its potential for collaborative language learning for “distance learners on the move”.
The report describes the initial lack of activity on the application and the dramatic change in the quantity of messages within a short time. The researchers provide information on average numbers of messages and patterns of use by day and time. As far as the aim to look at WhatsApp’s usefulness in negotiating meaning, there are numerous extracts that show how students provided feedback to each other and collaborated to clarify and correct each other’s writing. They did this both in relation to the tasks they were working on and to ask each other about syntax, all the while building group solidarity. The study showed that the students, who all spoke the same first language, used the target language almost exclusively in their written exchanges. Some of the other observations include use of paralinguistic features that are available on the application.
The report details the changes in the teacher’s role from being the main corrector of written errors to one of guide to the various topics to be discussed and types of discourse. She did more eliciting of awareness of language than correction of student mistakes.
Retrievable from: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED557212
Godwin-Jones, R. (2017). Smartphones and language learning. Language Learning & Technology, 21(2), 3–17.
According to the 2016 General Social Survey from Statistics Canada 71% of the population own a Smartphone. We carry these powerful little devices with us everywhere even in our classrooms. The ubiquity of the Smartphone begs the question of how they could be used to support and extend language learning.
This timely article offers an overview of, and provides a useful base of information about the potential of Smartphones for language learning. The author contends that smartphones have the potential to support students in more effectively integrating their language learning in the classroom and the incidental language learning that they may engage in using mobile devices. One major challenge relating to the use of smartphones and mobile devices in the language learning environment is how to support students to develop skills and knowledge to enable them to become informed and engaged online learners.
The author surveys recent research in Mobile Assisted Language Learning (MALL) and makes the case for the need for further research to examine the actual use of mobile devices by students outside of the classroom. Such research would support a better understanding of how these devices can be effectively deployed in the language classroom to support informal and ongoing learning and the development of critical digital skills.
[i] (2016). Statistics Canada. General Social Survey.
Retrievable from: http://llt.msu.edu/issues/june2017/emerging.pdf
Jones, A., Kukulska-Hulme, A. & Brasher, A., (2017). Editorial Special Collection on Migrants, Education and Technologies. Journal of Interactive Media in Education. 2017(1), p.5. DOI: http://doi.org/10.5334/jime.441
This special collection of articles includes these themes:
- Social integration and language learning
- Contextually sensitive learning for migrants
- Smart Cities’ support for migrants
- Overcoming linguistic and cultural barriers
- Informal learning
- Learning in different contexts – inside and outside the classroom
The editorial heading up the special collection acknowledges that smartphones have saturated society, that they represent new possibilities as mobile language learning tools, but also that the Internet can be expensive and isn’t always accessible. One of the featured reports looks at a project that supports language development in daily life – without access to the Internet as learners are on the move. You can also read the blog from this project: SALSA.
Other articles in the collection include refugee experiences learning language in Canada, Australia, England and Sweden.
The SALSA blog postings from August 2014 to March 2017 on the site below describe a project involving a group of English language learners who used 27 beacons in their town to trigger different language learning scenarios. The results of the project are described in the post “Fitting in versus learning”.
The beacon activities were designed to motivate students and help them continue their learning between face to face classroom sessions.
Retrievable from: http://www.open.ac.uk/blogs/salsa/
Norris, L., & Kukulska-Hulme, A. (2017). Teacher training and professional development in mobile pedagogy for English language teaching. In R. Power, M. Ally, D. Cristol, & A. Palalas (Eds.), IAmLearning: Mobilizing and supporting educator practice. [e-Book]. International Association for Mobile Learning. https://iamlearning.pressbooks.com/part/ch-4-teacher-training-and-pd-in-mobile-pedagogy-for-english-language-teaching/
The chapter describes the four pillars of the authors’ Pedagogical Framework and how they highlight the teacher’s role using mobile devices for language teaching and learning. The Framework considers teacher wisdom, device features, learner mobilities and language dynamics. The authors describe using the Framework in professional development workshops in Europe for teachers from several countries. They faced both resistance and enthusiasm from participants and they describe the anxiety teachers felt as they used technology in the workshops.
Retrievable from: http://oro.open.ac.uk/52264/7/52264.pdf
Lai, C. & Zheng, D. (2017) Self-directed use of mobile devices for language learning beyond the classroom. ReCALL p.1-20
This article is based on a study conducted with language students in a university in Hong Kong, exploring their self-directed use of mobile devices for language learning outside of the classroom. The study revealed that the students used mobile devices to personalize their learning, rather than for communication, and that their use was determined by their own understanding of the affordances of the devices. How the students used mobile devices for language learning was also determined by their habits of use of these devices in their daily lives, and by the types of learning tasks they were engaged in. The authors suggest that these factors, based on a deeper understanding how students use mobile devices, should be considered when designing mobile learning activities. The finding of this study echo those of Trinder, R. (2017). Informal and deliberate learning with new technologies. ELT Journal, 71(4),402-412 (see annotation below) and underline the importance of learning how mobile devices are being used by students in daily life to shape the development of appropriate mobile language learning activities
Available for purchase ( $25.00 USD) at:
The Cambridge Guide to Blended Learning for Language Teaching. Edited by Michael McCarthy. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge UK. 2016.
This book is divided into five sections: Connecting (including Second Language Acquisition) Theories and Blended Learning, Implications for Teaching, Rethinking Learner Interaction, Case Studies and the Future of Blended Learning.
One of the case studies describes a language teacher education program that gradually transitioned from a traditional format to a blended one and moved from a behaviourist model to a more constructivist one in the process.
Available for purchase ($70.00 CDN) from Cambridge University Press.
Elizabeth Colucci, Hanne Smidt, Axelle Devaux, Charalambos Vrasidas, Malaz Safarjalani and Jonatan Castaño Muñoz; Free Digital Learning Opportunities for Migrants and Refugees. An Analysis of Current Initiatives and Recommendations for their Further Use. Joint Research Centre (JRC) Science for Policy Report. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union, 2017.
This report contains a snapshot of the current (2016) field for free digital learning for migrant/refugee settlement in Europe with a few examples from the Middle East and the Southern Mediterranean. The study’s objective was to assess the extent to which free digital learning is an effective and efficient way to develop needed skills for migrants/refugees. The study includes a literature review, a searchable website, and a SWOT analysis based on interviews with key informants.
One of the findings of the study was that migrants/refugees believe that free digital learning should be a complement to face-to-face formal and informal/non-formal learning. Those who were interested in higher learning saw recognition of credits and degrees as important and were interested in blended learning that involved social interaction.
Retrievable from: https://ec.europa.eu/education/news/20170516-free-digital-learning-opportunities-migrants-and-refugees_en
New Media Consortium (NMC) Horizon Report: 2017 Higher Education Edition. Austin, TX.
This annual report profiles six time-based key trends, significant challenges and important developments related to technology adoption in higher education. The 78-member 2017 Expert Panel includes Canadian representatives from the University of Saskatchewan, the University of Ottawa, Conestoga College and Niagara College. One of the 10 highlights from the report states that online, mobile and blended learning are “foregone conclusions” necessary for an institution’s survival. This highlight emphasizes the importance of measuring how these approaches affect learning outcomes.
Retrievable from: https://www.nmc.org/publication/nmc-horizon-report-2017-higher-education-edition/
Jurate Matulioniene, Boston ESOL Academy, UK; Daiva Pundziuviene Bytautas Magnus University, Lithuania; The Potential of Blended ESOL Courses: Attitudes and Practices Among the UK Immigrants. Sustainable Multilingualism. Volume 10, Issue 1 (May 2017)
This research study looks at a small group of recent immigrants’ experience and attitudes to learning and opportunities and barriers to speaking English in the United Kingdom. The study provides background suggesting that language competences may be an important factor that influences immigrants’ progress in their new country. Their findings include information on the individuals’ use of information and communication technologies (ICT) on a personal level, at work or for learning. These could include mobile and smart phones, email, digital cameras, scanners, social network etc.
The study examines these immigrants’ willingness to take part in blended language training and the barriers they see to doing that. The study asked if they would be interested in taking part in blended English classes that originated from their home countries, thus providing the support of their first language and at the same time help them keep the connection with their native countries.
They also present important considerations such as ensuring participants in such courses have the technical proficiency required to participate effectively in a blended course.
Retrievable from: https://www.degruyter.com/view/j/sm.2017.10.issue-1/sm-2017-0006/sm-2017-0006.xml
Kukulska-Hulme, A. and Viberg, O.(2017). Mobile collaborative language learning: State of the art. British Journal of Educational Technology, September 2017.
This review article looks at studies in mobile,collaborative language learning conducted between 2012-16. The review aims to provide a better understanding of how mobile technologies are being used to support collaborative learning for second and foreign language learners. The article provides an overview of the findings of these studies which indicate that mobile collaborative language learning allows a range of affordances such as “flexible use, continuity of use, timely feedback, personalisation, socialisation, self-evaluation, active participation, peer coaching, sources of inspiration outdoors and cultural authenticity ” (p.1). In addition, the studies reviewed found that learners engaging in mobile collaborative language learning benefit from increased motivation and engagement, and were less nervous and embarrassed in their language learning. The authors conclude that the studies provide a credible case for mobile language learning.
Available for purchase ($6.00 USD for 48 hour access – article can be printed) at:
Trinder, R. (2017). Informal and deliberate learning with new technologies. ELT Journal, 71(4),402-412.
This article is based on an empirical study exploring Austrian university students’ perceptions and practices related to the usefulness of online informal and incidental learning of English when they are using digital technologies in their daily lives. By and large the students indicated a preference for media (films and television), email, online dictionaries as being most useful for their language learning.
Although the study was conducted in a university setting the findings are applicable to a range of language learning settings. Given the ubiquity of digital technologies it is likely that students are accessing information and using technology for communication in daily life. As the author concludes, knowing more about how language students actually use digital technologies to support their learning outside the classroom can help instructors to incorporate the preferred technologies in instruction, where feasible, to validate informal language learning and to support students to evaluate digital tools to support their language learning outside the classroom.
Dudeney, Gavin, Nicky Hockly and Mark Pegrum. Digital Literacies. Harlow, England: Pearson, 2013.
This book is organized in four chapters:
- From research to implications – you’ll find a framework of digital literacies.
- From implications to application – you’ll find a digital activities grid, descriptions of activities and a number of worksheets. worksheets can slso be obtained online.
- From application to implementation – you’ll find information about how to integrate digital literacies in your teaching practice depending on your context and the syllabus you are working with.
- From implementation to research – you’ll find suggestions about how to continue your own learning about digital literacies as you work through challenges that arise. There is detailed description of building and maintaining a personal learning network (PLN).
The NorthStar Digital Literacy Assessment was developed by the St. Paul Public Library and the St. Paul Community Literacy Consortium. Through a set of online and interactive assessments users can identify skill gaps in Basic Computer Use, Internet, Windows Operating System, Email, Word Processing/ Microsoft Word, Spreadsheets/ Excel, and Social Media.
The NorthStar Digital Literacy Assessment is widely used in the U.S. and by some organizations in Canada and South Africa. As of March 2016, over 150,000 assessments had been completed. Although the NorthStar Digital Literacy Assessment was developed for the adult basic education community it is appropriate for ESL learners – the developers note that, “A mid-level English-speaking ability is needed to complete the assessments.”
Retrievable from: https://www.digitalliteracyassessment.org/
Burns, A. & Kurtoğlu-Hooton, N. Using action research to explore technology in language teaching: international perspectives. British Council. (2016).
This publication is an extensive report of a virtual action research project undertaken by the British Council in 2015-16. The project was designed to introduce international language teachers to action research, to investigate the teachers’ experience of an action research approach, and to collect and disseminate insights for the effective use of technology based on the action research projects undertaken by the teachers.
In all, 12 English language teachers, with the support of academic researchers conducted small action research projects examining the use of specific technology tools in their programs and classrooms. Each of the participants produced research summaries outlining their experiences. These are included in the report.
Although the focus of this project is English language teaching internationally, it provides an interesting model for virtual action research on technology use for language teaching that could be applied in settlement language programs. Such a virtual action research project could support valuable collaborative learning and information sharing for language instructors.
Retrievable from: https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/sites/teacheng/files/28313%20ELTRA%20Report%20WEB.PDF
Harris, K. Integrating Digital Literacy Into English Language Instruction: Issue Brief [nd].
Digital Literacy, the ability to use digital devices and to participate in our digital world is now recognized as a fundamental skill in our increasingly digital world. This issue brief from the U.S. is part of the LINCS ESL Pro suite of resources on Integrating Digital Literacy into English Language Instruction.
This short article provides an overview of digital literacy within the context of English language teaching and learning, highlighting its critical importance for students and providing a straightforward introduction to four aspects of digital literacy: (1) using basic digital skills, (2) creating and communicating information, (3) finding and evaluating information, and (4) solving problems in technology-rich environments. In addition the article provides practical advice on how digital literacy activities can be included in English language instruction.
Retrievable from: https://lincs.ed.gov/publications/pdf/ELL_Digital_Literacy_508.pdf
Shields, John, Julie Drolet & Karla Valenzuela. (2016) Ryerson Centre for Immigration & Settlement. RCIS Working Paper No 2016/1. Immigrant Settlement and Integration Services and the Role of Nonprofit Service Providers: A Cross-national perspective on Trends, Issues and Evidence.
This paper compares the contexts for settlement and integration service delivery and the role of nonprofits in working with government to provide a wider context within which to reflect on the situation in Canada. The paper looks beyond the United States, Australia and New Zealand to UK/England, Ireland, Germany, France, The Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, Italy and Spain. The study provides a number of definitions of settlement and settlement work which help explain the environment in which settlement language training occurs. Government immigrant settlement policies vary depending on the model of integration that operates within each country. Canada’s settlement policies involve formal programs and general policies assisting immigrants. Language training programs are one of these formal programs. In fact, language acquisition is a core area of settlement services for all 13 countries in the study, along with labour market programs. The report provides information about fees, curricula, integration courses, pre-arrival services and settlement plans.
The report provides a wide-ranging discussion of current trends and changes in immigration, newcomer settlement and integration and citizenship in the countries in the study. One of the trends presented is the increasing role for nonprofit agencies in immigrant settlement and integration and the privatization of some aspects of the settlement service sector.
Renteria Navarro, Victoria. Becoming Blended: A case study in teacher identity. Plymouth St Mark and St John University. British Council ELT Master’s Dissertation Awards: Commendation. (2015-16).
This case study is set in an English Blended Program in Mexico. The author’s aim was to discover how a teacher’s educational and cultural background as well as their experience and knowledge play a role to promote or hinder agency, their capacity to critically shape their responses to problematic situations, such as those they would encounter teaching in a blended language learning program.
The study takes as a given that the internet and web applications have provided options and responsibilities that have seriously influenced teachers’ outlooks, encouraging them to change their practice. This will impact the institutions that provide professional development for teachers. One of the elements the author suggests will help to guide them is teacher identity.
The author provides evidence that experiences in one’s own educational past will have an impact on one’s approach to teaching, e.g., how to be successful teaching in a new blended language learning program with little technological support, how to cope with constantly changing technology, how to work with dependent students, whether to take on a formal or informal guise in the online component, etc. The author also describes the teachers’ professional development and examines how it has helped each of them to evolve or change their preferred practices in the blended environment. The examples of each teacher’s Moodle pages provide further insight about this dynamic relationship.
Retrievable from: http://englishagenda.britishcouncil.org/sites/default/files/attachments/dissertation_for_publication_2016_st_mark_and_st_john_plymouth.pdf
Gilbert, J. (2014). Exploring ESL Students’ Perceptions of Their Digital Reading Skills. Ed.D. University of Nottingham.
A doctoral thesis exploring ESL students’ understandings of their own digital reading skills. The study included three sources of data: reading workshops created for the participants; interviews with participants; discussions with participants and analysis of participants’ reading journals. The study concludes that while the participants had the capacity to randomly search the internet they lack the information literacy skills to productively research and evaluate information online. The study also found that the participants’ reading strategies varied when engaging with print and web-based text. Finally the research points to the need to consider teaching digital literacy skills in tandem with language instruction and to provide instructors and instructors-in-training with the means to develop robust digital skills to enable them to support students to develop these skills alongside their language learning.
Retrievable from: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/14080/1/Gilbert_Re-formated_Thesis_Draft.pdf