Identifying the Real and Perceived Needs of ESL Adult Learners with Limited or No Literacy in their L1

Thieves. C (2011). Identifying the Real and Perceived Needs of ESL Adult Learners with Limited or No Literacy in their L1 (M.A.). McGill University.

This thesis is a study using a mixed methods research design (pre- and post-class questionnaire, interview and observation data) in a 12-week ESL class to determine the opinions of students in ESL programs in two schools in a large U.S. city in relation to their L1, English and computer literacy needs. Results showed that adults enrolled in the classes considered computer literacy skills as a fundamental tool for survival in a digital society.  The author contends that these results can be used to guide ESL instructors in the modification of curricula and in the incorporation of digital technologies in ESL reading and writing instruction.

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Spotlight on Blended Language Learning: A Frontier Beyond Learner Autonomy and Computer-assisted Language Learning.

Stracke, E. (2007a). Spotlight on Blended Language Learning:  A Frontier Beyond Learner Autonomy and Computer-assisted Language Learning. In Proceedings of the Independent Learning Association 2. Presented at the Independent Learning Centre. : Exploring theory, enhancing practice Japan.

In this conference paper, the author identifies some key elements to consider in the development of successful blended learning initiatives. The identification of these elements is based on an empirical study of blended learning, defined as teaching and learning environments in which technology plays a role, in EFL programs. The author emphasizes the critical importance of allowing sufficient time for instructors and students to adapt to the blended learning environment, the need for technical support, the key role of a sense of community, the importance of the development of high-quality materials as well as potentially disruptive changes of roles. Finally the author argues for further research into the potential of blended learning as a useful means to integrate technology and independent learning in second language teaching and learning.

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Enhancing the Autonomous Use of CALL – A new curriculum model in EFL.

Smith, K., & Craig, H. (2013). Enhancing the Autonomous Use of CALL – A new curriculum model in EFL. Calico Journal.l, 30(2), p-p 252-278.

This action research study evaluates the effectiveness of a CALL Learner Autonomy course in a blended EFL program at a Japanese university. The study looks at a number of reflective tools to help with learners’ motivational setbacks in a CALL environment due to a lack of computer skills or knowledge about how to use websites and software. These included tools to help learners with planning, organizing, tracking and evaluating their autonomous use of CALL resources.  The researchers found that regular and critical learner self-reflection through using these tools was a key factor contributing to a positive shift in study culture. It is included in the bibliography as an example of practices that have been examined to improve learner autonomy.

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Implementing Blended Learning in Foreign Language Education: Reasons and Considerations.

Mondejar, M. (2012). Implementing Blended Learning in Foreign Language Education:  Reasons and Considerations.

This conference paper explores the pros and cons of blended learning in foreign language learning. The presenter argues that BL is a quickly growing approach that allows instructors to provide students with increased flexibility, enhances student engagement, fosters student autonomy and supports collaborative learning. However, in order to be deployed successfully the presenter argues that careful needs analysis of students and careful and thorough course or instructional design are necessary. He also points to the need for further research in the use of blended learning in foreign language learning.

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Assessing computer literacy in adult ESL learners

Meckelborg, A. (2003). Assessing computer literacy in adult ESL learners (M. Ed). University of Alberta.

This thesis documents a relatively early study of instruments to measure computer literacy in a group of adult ESL students. Although there have been many developments in digital technologies over the past ten years and the range and type of skills described in this study are somewhat outdated, the discussion of the design and analysis of the assessment instruments remains of value in relation to assessment in a blended learning context. The assessment instruments piloted and studied as an alternative to a performance measure of computer skills were as follows: a computer experience questionnaire; a vocabulary self-assessment questionnaire; a computer skills self-assessment questionnaire and a written test of knowledge.

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Distance Education and E-Learning: New Options for Adult Basic and English Language Education

Imel, S., & Jacobson, E. (2006). Distance Education and E-Learning: New Options for Adult Basic and English Language Education. California. Department of Education.

A review of Distance Education and E-Learning programs and initiatives in the United States for Adult Basic Education (ABE) and ESL Students. The review cites research on the factors that contribute to successful delivery of Distance Education and E-Learning, and research on the characteristics of successful online students. The review also provides a set of recommendations for successful Distance Education and E-Learning, including screening students to ensure learner capacity and provision of orientation to ensure that students can function in the online environment. They stress the importance of beginning with face-to-face instruction, providing support for students to develop skills in self-direction, maintaining frequent communication, providing technical support, developing learner cohorts and delivering professional development.

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Exploration of Newcomers’ Access to Internet Literacy

Ascenuik, C. (2012). Exploration of Newcomers’ Access to Internet Literacy (M.A). University of Ottawa.

This thesis examines the impact of levels of access to technology, both within and outside the program, on a small group of newcomers to Canada enrolled in a federally funded Enhanced Language Training (ELT) program. The study explores this impact in relation to the general internet literacy of the participants and the educational, curricular and pedagogical implications for the ELT program.

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Defining Blended Learning

Friesen, N. (2012, August). Defining Blended Learning. Blog.

The author provides a history of the changing meaning of the term “blended learning” along with the ambiguity of its meaning until the publication of Bonk’s (2006) Handbook of Blended Learning. He also puts forward a number of blended learning models and creates a decision tree to determine if a given course is blended or not. The report would be interesting to anyone exploring the components that could be involved in implementing a course in blended learning.

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LINC and CLIC: Looking Back, Looking Forward

Singh, D., & Blakely, G. (2012). LINC and CLIC: Looking Back, Looking Forward. INSCAN Special Issue on Settlement Language Training, (Spring), 7–11.

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This article provides a very useful overview of the history and development of language training in Canada since the inception of federally funded Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) and Cours de langue pour les immigrants au Canada (CLIC) in 1992. The article also addresses the increasingly important role of learning technologies in language training and the opportunities for extending the reach of programming through the use of online and blended learning to maximize the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of language training across the country.

Evaluating computer technology for language learning

Chapelle, C. (2010). Evaluating computer technology for language learning. Contact, 36(2), 56–62.

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This article presents a review and evaluation of research on the effectiveness of technology in second language teaching and learning. The article draws on studies that compared classes using technology and those that do not, surveys of instructors’ and learners’ opinions about the use of technology in language learning, and discourse analysis of learners’ performance in a computer-assisted environment. The author points to the difficulties and complexities of establishing the factors that support successful language learning and cautions that claims made by developers of commercial software for language learning  need to be verified  “on the ground” by observational research on students’ use of technology and on actual reports from instructors and students on their use of technology.