Educational Affordances of an Asynchronous Online Discussion Forum for Language Learners

Zhong, Q.M. Norton, H. (2018). Educational Affordances of an Asynchronous Online Discussion Forum for Language Learners. TESL-EJ, 22 (3).

This study asks the question, “What affordances does an asynchronous discussion board offer to second language learners ?” It describes some of the potential of this type of discussion, including providing time to reflect and research before responding and providing a non-threatening and collaborative learning environment. Although literature on this topic exists in fields other than second language acquisition, the authors intend for this study to fill the gap  that exists on its beneficial affordances in SLA.  A literature review  is provided on Affordance Theory and the use of asynchronous online discussion.

The authors identify four themes (Co-constructive collaborative e-learning environment, Group affiliations, Critical thinking and Learner autonomy) and sub-themes that emerged from the peer-moderated discussion forum. Although the study took place in a joint business degree articulation  between a New Zealand and Chinese institution, many of the sub-themes would be familiar to settlement language programs, e.g., greet team members by name, apologize, agree and disagree, introduce new or different topics.  The study reports high levels of postings that exceeded course requirements, but suggests further research  with a larger sample size is needed to determine which factors caused the motivation behind this.

Retrievable from

http://tesl-ej.org/pdf/ej87/a1.pdf

 

 

Blended Learning Adoption in an ESL Context: Obstacles and Guidelines

Shebansky, W. (2018). Blended Learning Adoption in an ESL Context: Obstacles and Guidelines. TESL Canada Journal, 35(1), 52 – 77.

This report looks at the factors that influence adult ESL instructor opinions about implementation and use of blended learning in a federally-funded Canadian LINC program(Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada) (24 instructors), in an ESL program in a mid-sized Canadian community college (5 instructors) and in an EFL program in a large Korean university (19 instructors).

The author acknowledges that digital tools are available and accessible, but are not being widely used to implement Blended Learning.

He references several conceptual frameworks and extends two that are used in higher education to a part-time LINC context to inform and guide his investigation into the low rate of technology adoption at his LINC program.

The research study asks these questions:

  1. Do participants in the study use BL? How is use different across different ESL settings?
  2. What institutional strategy (design-related issues), structure (issues related to facilitation of the BL environment) and support (faculty implementation and maintenance of its BL design) factors most influence whether instructors will adopt BL? Is this different across ESL settings?
  3. Why do those factors affect adoption of BL in a LINC context?

He reports on these factors that influence instructors’ decision whether to adopt blended learning:

  • Ability to quickly upload and download materials
  • Availability of professional development in a face-to-face group or one-on-one
  • Availability of technical support
  • Availability of pedagogical support

He then reports on these findings to explain why this list of factors influenced instructors’ decisions.

Retrievable from

https://teslcanadajournal.ca/index.php/tesl/article/view/1295

Enhancing Online Language Learning Task Engagement through Social Interaction

Tran, P. (2018). Enhancing Online Language Learning Task Engagement through Social Interaction. Australian Journal of Applied Linguistics, Vol. 1, (2) 88-101.

This study examined the how online social interaction can support out of class language learning. A group of English language students at a private university in Tokyo participated in the study over two semesters. In the first semester students were introduced to and supported to use Quizlet for vocabulary learning. In the second semester the same group of students were introduced to and supported to use LINE a  free messaging App to communicate with and receive direction and feedback from the instructor and to communicate with one another. Results indicate that providing students with the means to engage in online social interaction had a positive impact on student engagement in out of class independent language learning.

The researcher identifies three roles of social interaction in supporting out of class language learning. The first is social communication wherein students interact with one another and develop a sense of community, the second is as a teacher to student communication tool whereby the teacher communicates directly with each student to provide direction, feedback and reminders. The third is as a student to teacher communication tool enabling students to communicate directly with the teacher to report on what they are learning, to ask questions and request direction and guidance. Participants reported that the use of LINE increased their motivation to engage in out of class language learning and allowed for a more open and direct relationship with the instructor.

Although this is a relatively small study conducted in a post-secondary institution it provides a useful review of the potential of online social interaction tools to support language students, at every level of learning, to engage in out of class language learning tasks to enhance their learning.

Retrievable from:

https://journals.castledown-publishers.com/index.php/ajal/article/view/78

 

 

Significant Predictors for Effectiveness of Blended Learning In a Language Course

Wichadee, S. (2018) Significant predictors for effectiveness of blended learning in a language course. JALT Call Journal, Vol. 14, (1) 24-42.

Although this research study of 149 (90 female, 59 male) participants took place in an undergraduate university language course, the results are meaningful for adult learners who are in settlement language programs and for those who design blended programs for them as well. After highlighting the characteristics, rationale for and benefits of blended learning, the author goes on to explore satisfaction with the course being studied and participants’ learning performance.

The author identifies digital literacy, workload management, attitudes toward blended learning, online tool quality and face-to-face support to be among the factors identified in literature reviews as those that will have an impact on the effectiveness of blended learning.

The design of the course studied included a face-to-face orientation followed by alternating weeks of face-to-face classroom work and online self-study using online learning platforms. The knowledge gained in online weeks was checked in the face-to-face weeks.

One of the results of the study was that the more these students had positive attitudes towards blended learning, had digital literacy skills and received face-to-face support, the better their learning performance. In this study, workload management and quality of online tools did not affect learning scores. As far as satisfaction with the course, there were two factors that predicted satisfaction: face-to-face support and attitudes towards blended learning.

In the discussion at the end of the report the author provides additional background on how the course was modified for this study and details on students’ attitudes as he reviews how and why face-to-face support and attitudes toward blended learning were predictors of student satisfaction.

 

Retrievable from

Chasing the butterfly effect: Informal language learning online as a complex system

Godwin-Jones, R. (2018). Chasing the butterfly effect: Informal language learning online as a complex system. Language Learning & Technology, 22(2), 8–27

This intriguing and thought provoking article provides a comprehensive review of how the multiple opportunities for students to engage in informal language learning, outside of the classroom or institutional settings, using digital technologies and social media platforms  has the potential to impact second-language (L2) development.   The author discusses the efficacy of a complexity- theory perspective in developing our understanding of the many variables at play in second language learning, and that of a learning systems perspective  in recognizing  the classroom, and the formal language learning environment are only one “learning space” in a learners “personal learning system” as they pursue second-language learning.

Retrievable from:

https://scholarspace.manoa.hawaii.edu/bitstream/10125/44643/1/22_02_emerging_godwin-jones_10125_44643.pdf

 

Experimenting with Google Assistant in ESOL Classrooms

A brief post from the Illinois Digital Learning Lab outlining how instructors and ESOL students are experimenting with the use of voice recognition technology, specifically, Google Home Mini. The instructor describes how she and her students are using the device and the potential for such devices to build engagement, and help students in developing language skills such as pronunciation.  The instructor also shares a list of questions that students draw on in working with the device and some issues to consider when planning to introduce voice recognition technology (either voice assistants like Google Home or  smartphone voice assistants  in the language classroom.

Retrievable from:  https://edtech.worlded.org/experimenting-google-assistant-esl-classrooms/

 

“I do which the question”: Students’ innovative use of technology resources in the language classroom

Dooly, M. (2018). “I do which the question”: Students’ innovative use of technology resources in the language classroom. Language Learning & Technology, 22(1), 184–217.

Although this study isn’t about adults in settlement language programs, it contains a number of examples in the Discussion section that are  relevant to any learning situation in which adults are working in groups with technology to learn and practise their communication skills. This study of two middle school classes in Spain and Sweden working together on English language projects using technology provides some good analysis  of what can lead to students branching out on their own instead of following task instructions, not working in the collaborative way the teacher intended because of top-down task instructions, seating arrangements and classroom setup that are frustrating for group work and discussion, being able to wait for others to finish and then copy their answers, and a lack of student accountability for the assignments. The detailed descriptions of the technology used, the project questions asked, the student responses are a fascinating look at a classroom using technology. in addition, the author describes how the students managed to engage in genuine communication between the two classrooms using tools that were outside what were assigned to them.

Retrievable from:  http://www.lltjournal.org/item/3024

Twitter: A Professional Development and Community of Practice Tool for Teachers

Rosell-Aguilar, F., (2018). Twitter: A Professional Development and Community of Practice Tool for Teachers. Journal of Interactive Media in Education. 2018(1), p.6.

This research report begins with a literature review of Twitter for Education, Twitter as a learning environment for teachers and teacher use of hashtags for professional and community development.

The research questions explore who uses a specific hashtag (#MFLtwitterati), whether there is evidence that using Twitter can contribute to Continuous Professional Development and whether the hashtag can be described as a community of practice. The author looked at this specific hashtag, but also mentions  language learning hashtags which may be of more interest to instructors in settlement language learning programs. Language learners use Twitter because they encounter authentic language in tweets, can practise language skills and access resources such as text, audio and video in the target language.

The author concludes with a discussion of the results and notes that the study brought the under-researched issue of mobile learning among teachers to the forefront and demonstrates how teachers are using up to the minute tools like Twitter to take charge of their professional development in the absence of funding for PD in their institutions.

Retrievable from

https://jime.open.ac.uk/article/10.5334/jime.452/

When at Crossroads of L2 Tasks and Technology: A Critical Review of Implementing Technology-mediated Task-Based Language Teaching

.Jaramillo Cherrez, N. (2018). When at Crossroads of L2 Tasks and Technology: A Critical Review of Implementing Technology-mediated Task-Based Language Teaching. In E. Langran & J. Borup (Eds.), Proceedings of Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference (pp. 876-882). Washington, D.C., United States: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE)

This article focuses on the interconnections between Task-Based Language Teaching (TBLT) and Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) through a critical review of the relevant literature. The review examines how second language instructors currently use technology in the TBLT environment.  While the literature indicates that there are clear benefits for language learners in implementing technology mediated task-based language teaching there are potential implications and  challenges that need to be addressed in relation to access to technology, professional development, and identifying learner needs and capacity in relation to the use of technology. The article offers a useful starting point for instructors and program designers in the second-language sector as they consider, plan and work to maximize the potential of impact of  technology mediated TBLT in their programming and teaching.

 

Available for purchase ($9.95) USD at: https://www.learntechlib.org/primary/p/182623/

 

Pre-Service and In-Service English as a Second Language Teachers’ Beliefs about the Use of Digital Technology in the Classroom

 

Kartchava, E. Chung, S. Studies in English Language Teaching. Vol 3, No 4, 2015.

This Canadian study includes a literature review of research on beliefs regarding technology and learning using three interrelated influences of previous learning experiences, professional development and teaching context. The study identifies age as an additional influence. It then describes a study in Ontario of pre-service and in-service ESL teachers. The study gathered participants’ background information, used open-ended prompts at the beginning of the study to discern their actual use of digital technology and their views on ideal ways to use it in the classroom and followed these with closed questions. These are included in the report, categorized by Experience/Importance, Expertise and Context. Researchers collected additional information through follow up interviews.  There is a discussion of the benefits, limitations, concerns and possibilities that were identified for teacher educators, administrators and teachers themselves at the end of the report.

Retrievable from: http://www.scholink.org/ojs/index.php/selt/article/view/405/389

 

Technology, teachers, and training: Combining theory with Macedonia’s experience

Hosman, L. Cvetanoska, M. International Journal of Education and Development using Information and Communication Technology (IJEDICT), 2013, Vol 9. Issue 3, pp.28-49.

This article looks at the importance of teachers as stakeholder-change agents in the adoption of innovation in schools. It offers recommendations for improvements to address teacher concerns in programs like the computers-in-the-schools program described in Macedonia. It presents and uses a theoretical framework for adoption of innovation that looks at the stages of concerns experienced by teachers about their teaching skills and abilities.

Retrievable from: https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1071378.pdf

Choosing Technology Tools to Meet Pronunciation Teaching and Learning Goals

 

Tritch Yoshida, M. (2018). Choosing Technology Tools to Meet Pronunciation Teaching and Learning Goals. The CATESOL Journal,  30(1), 195–212

This article evaluates a range of technology tools and sites to support the teaching, learning and development of pronunciation.  The comprehensive evaluations are based on research and classroom practice and examine each of the tools based on the following criteria: Quality and accuracy; Practicality of use; Ease of use and Cost.

The article offers a practical review of technology tools and sites for computers, laptops and smartphones from the perspective of language instructor and also offers a model of technology tool evaluation that could be very useful in other areas of language teaching and learning.

Retrievable from:

http://www.catesoljournal.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/CJ30.1_yoshida.pdf

 

Second language writing online: An update

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

 

Mobile-based chatting for meaning negotiation in foreign language learning

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

Smartphones and language learning

Godwin-Jones, R. (2017). Smartphones and language learning. Language Learning & Technology, 21(2), 3–17.

According to the 2016 General Social Survey[1] 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.

http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/11-627-m/11-627-m2017032-eng.htm

Retrievable from: http://llt.msu.edu/issues/june2017/emerging.pdf

 

 

 

 

Special Collection on Migrants, Education and Technologies

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.

https://www-jime.open.ac.uk/articles/10.5334/jime.441/

SALSA: Smart cities and language learning

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/

Teacher Training and Professional Development in Mobile Pedagogy for English Language Teaching

 

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

Self-directed use of mobile devices for language learning beyond the classroom

 

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:

https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/recall/article/selfdirected-use-of-mobile-devices-for-language-learning-beyond-the-classroom/C60A8CE7FA2F2D3CC4548398BDAB828B

 

 

The Cambridge Guide to Blended Learning for Language Teaching

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.