The future of language education: Teachers’ perceptions about the surge of AI writing tools

Zimotti, G., Frances, C., & Whitaker, L. (2024). The future of language education: Teachers’ perceptions about the surge of AI writing tools. Technology in Language Teaching & Learning, 6(2), 1–24.

This article reports on the results of a survey of language educators to explore their perceptions of the use and the potential effect of large language models such as ChatGPT in language teaching and learning. The researchers set out to address two questions:

RQ1: What current attitudes and perceptions do L2 instructors have regarding ChatGPT?

RQ2: What are innovative approaches for employing ChatGPT within language classrooms, their perceived ability to notice students’ use, and their current policies regarding this technology (p.3)?

In general, the survey revealed that language educators are open to the use of ChatGPT, recognise that their students will use it and that 36% of respondents have already used ChatGPT in their classrooms. Potential uses identified by respondents include creating lesson content, providing feedback, generating ideas and explaining complex grammar topics. Respondents also expressed concerns about the potential misuse of ChatGPT by students and how educators can identify and respond to misuse.

The findings align with the theory of normalization as described by Bax, in that educators who have used ChatGPT are enthusiastic about its potential, while those who have had less experience remain somewhat skeptical and apprehensive about its uses.

The authors argue that the inevitability of  the use of tools such as ChatGPT by language learners means that language educators need to critically examine such tools, focusing on the potential to enhance learning rather than on the technology itself, consider how these tools can be used for effective  student assessment and support students to think critically about these tools while enabling their responsible use to support the development of digital literacy skills. The article concludes with a quotation from a survey respondent, “We can’t change the fact that ChatGPT is going to change language teaching… all we can do is adjust our sails.” (p.20).

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AI and English language teaching: Affordances and challenges

Crompton, H., Edmett, A., Ichaporia, N., & Burke, D. (2024). AI and English language teaching: Affordances and challenges. British Journal of Educational Technology, 00, 1–27.

This article provides a systematic literature review focused on how Artificial Intelligence (AI) is currently being used in English Language teaching and learning. Based on this review the article also provides an analysis and discussion of affordances of AI, and identifies potential  limitations and challenges presented by AI in English language teaching and learning. The authors outline themes and issues requiring future research to support  the effective use of AI for English language teaching and learning at all learning levels.

The literature review demonstrated that AI is currently more likely to be used to support the learning in relation to speaking (primarily pronunciation) and writing  (primarily vocabulary and grammar) skills. The literature review indicated that AI is used less  in relation to reading,  and the authors posit that this may be due to the considerable  affordances of natural language processing which are  more pertinent in the areas of speaking and writing. The review also uncovered the potential of AI- powered tools including chatbots, on platforms such as Duolingo, Memrise and Mondly, to support learners in self-regulation, to become more autonomous learners, and to reduce anxiety, and increase confidence  in speaking English.

Based on their analysis of the literature the authors conclude that although there is solid evidence of promising affordances of AI, further research is required to better understand the implications of the use of AI in English language instruction. They contend that there is a  clear gap in the research in relation to challenges and limitations of AI, and identified the following areas for future research: technology breakdowns, concerns relating to personal cyber security, variable quality of AI-powered tools, and a potential over-standardisation of language.

Finally ,the authors point to the critical importance of enabling and supporting English language instructors to understand AI, how to evaluate AI-powered tools, and how to make effective use of these tools for language teaching and learning.

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Developing Targeted Technology Standards for Avenue language instructors, programs, and learners: an initiative of New Language Solutions

Allan, J., Healey, D., Hubbard, P., Kessler, G., McBride, R., Rajabi, S., and Sturm, M. (2024) Developing Targeted Technology Standards for Avenue language instructors, programs, and learners: an initiative of New Language Solutions. TESL Ontario Contact Magazine, 50 (1) 16-30.

Authors of this report in TESL Ontario’s Spring 2024 Contact magazine provide insight to New Language Solutions’ (NLS) approach to developing technology standards specifically targeted to instructors in Canada’s settlement language sector and that will be integrated into NLS’s online teacher training and leadership training. It describes the ongoing activities related to the standards that are intended to create a culture of continuous improvement around technology in learning environments. This includes regular reviews and updates of the standards as needed.

The report gives examples of the collaborative, online process the team used to trim the language in the standards and the performance indicators so they are as direct and clear as possible. The report links to a request form for the full set of standards but it also gives a brief overview of the seven standards along with a fuller example of “Standard 4, about digital literacy and digital citizenship for yourself and your learners.”.

The report outlines the evaluation process the standards followed, lays out the plan that will integrate the standards in instructor training and microcredentials, with the aim of sector-wide, consistent, deep understanding of the standards; and emphasizes ongoing initiatives that will generate data about the impact of the standards on programs.

A list of references is followed by a sample vignette that describes an instructor’s thoughts and experiences as she incorporates the standards into her instruction.

Hey Siri: Should #language, �, and follow me be taught?: A historical review of evolving communication conventions across digital media environments and uncomfortable questions for language teachers

Lotherington, H.& Bradley, N. (2024). Hey Siri: Should #language, �, and follow me be taught?:A historical review of evolving communication conventions across digital media environments and
uncomfortable questions for language teachers. Language Learning and Technology, 28 (1) 1-19

This article describes a research project prompted by

” … the perceived deepening gap between the content of and approaches to language instruction evident in popular MALL apps and the sophisticated evolutions in language in form and use during the past three decades.” p. 2.

The authors conducted a wide-ranging environmental scan of academic journals that publish articles on digitally mediated language and language teaching and learning applications. They followed this scan with an in-depth focused literature review documenting advances in technology and changes in social communication since the inception of the world wide web.

Following on this research and review of the literature the researchers contend that, the… “how, when, where, why, with whom, and how often people communicate has transformed and been transformed across historical waves of sociotechnical advancement.” p.1.

They add a fourth historical phase of linguistic theorizing to the three phases  as described by Xia :  Traditional prescriptivist grammar;  Structuralism; Functionalism. This fourth historical phase they describe as Digital convergence and posthumanism.

Digital convergence is the idea that all analogue media types have coalesced in a single digital medium and posthumanism is a theory which posits a world in which we are, often unknowingly, interacting with voice activated software. For example, many of us use devices such as Alexa and Google Nest in our homes and sport networked wearable devices such as fitness trackers and smartwatches.

Note:  (For an accessible outline of posthumanism see: What is Posthumanism?.

In this context the authors contend that language theories and practices need to be updated to address the needs of language learners in an era of digital communication. They argue that a traditional focus on language teaching methods intended for print resources and linear communicative practices are not sufficient to support language learners to participate fully and to live and work in societies where many forms of digital communication are essential. Finally, they pose the question, ” How will language teaching thread digital communication norms into English language learning so learners can survive the real tests of digital integration?” (p.12.)


Agora World: A Glimpse into the Future of Technology in Language Teaching and Learning

Cowin, J. (2023) Agora World: A Glimpse into the Future of Technology in Language Teaching and Learning. NYS TESOL Journal 10 (1), 51-58.

This article provides an intriguing “glimpse” into the future of language learning and the potential of virtual reality (VR) and multimedia technologies to transform language education. Through a materials review of Agora World  a code-free, drag and drop platform which allows users to fairly easily build immersive experiences, the author explores its potential to enable language instructors to create virtual worlds and immersive experiences in which learners can engage in meaningful tasks and activities to support and enhance their language learning. “Agora World holds the promise of content-based, project-based, or task-based language learning, making it possible for language teachers to construct original virtual worlds, gallery walks, and learning pathways for L2 learners to master language production.”.

These tasks and activities could include gallery walks in which learners can practice conversations, quests in which learners can carry out assigned tasks , including solving a problem together, and experiment with new vocabulary.  In each case instructors can  review and monitor progress and participation. Learners can also create stories and media boards to show language concepts learned, and these can be included in portfolios for assessment.

The author notes that while VR and immersive technologies hold much promise for language learning, the role of the instructor will be crucial in  designing and creating and curating appropriate and meaningful immersive content to support language learners.

Agora World provides a free version with most of the functionality of a subscription version which enables users to explore and evaluate the potential for teaching and learning.

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Conversational agents in language learning

Xiao, F.,, Zhao, P., Sha, H., Yang, D. and Warschauer, M. (2023) Conversational agents in language learning Journal of China Computer-Assisted Language Learning, 2023. 1-26.

This article provides a description and the findings of a scoping review of the use of conversational agents. The review includes some familiar commercial ones such as  Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant and others which are programmable such as Google’s Dialogflow and Amazon Lex. The authors define a scoping review as “a method of systematically identifying, mapping and summarising the available literature on a specific research topic” (p.3 ). It focuses on their use and potential use in language teaching and  learning, along with suggestions for future research to examine their potential to support language teaching and learning.

The scoping review indicated that such conversational agents are currently being used in language learning in three broad areas. The first is for general communication practice in which language learners interact directly with the conversational agent. The second is task-based language learning in which learners are required to interact with the conversational agent in the context of specific tasks. The third is structured pre-programmed dialogue whereby  conversational agents are designed and programmed by researchers and instructors to conduct dialogues with learners on specific topics.

Findings  from the literature identified in the scoping review show that conversational agents provide opportunities for learners to engage in conversation in the target language, thus providing useful learning opportunities both in and outside the traditional language learning classroom . The literature also indicates that generally language learners find this engagement useful in supporting and improving their language learning.  Some of the studies reviewed suggest that conversational agents can be useful as  diagnostic tools.  The review identified a significant gap in the research literature in relation to the educator perspective on the use of conversational agents and the authors suggest that  a focus on the educator perspective will be crucial in ongoing development and implementation of such agents.

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Learning processes in interactive CALL systems: Linking automatic feedback, system logs, and learning outcomes

Hui, B., Rudzewitz, B., & Meurers, D. (2023). Learning processes in interactive CALL systems: Linking automatic feedback, system logs, and learning outcomes. Language Learning &Technology, 27(1), 1–23.

The overall purpose of this research project was to demonstrate how the system logs that are available through online learning platforms can be used to better understand language learning processes and the association of those processes with learning conditions and outcomes. While instructors in settlement language classes in Ontario may not have access to a tutoring system like the one described in this research report, system logs are widely available to users with admin access and can provide information about users’ learning processes.

The authors contend that system logs are currently underused in Second Language Acquisition (SLA) research and that such research should include both learning products and learning processes to better understand what they describe as “… the complex relationship between learning conditions, processes, and outcomes.”

The authors make a distinction between learning products which focus on the results of a task, and the learning process which focuses on what happens during learning and teaching and how the learner achieves their goals over time.

The research project examined and analysed the detailed system logs of student interaction, including number of attempts by a student for each activity, the answers submitted and the systems feedback and other responses based on the following research questions:

  RQ1: To what extent can learning process variables, as extracted from system logs, directly account for learning outcomes?

  RQ2: Can we meaningfully distinguish clusters of learners based on the learning process variables?

  RQ3: To what extent does specific feedback relate to the learning process clusters?

The authors recommend further that SLA research focused on the analysis of system logs be used to identify and understand what happens in the learning process to support more productive interventions and improved system design.

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Potential Affordances of Generative AI in Language Education: Demonstrations and an Evaluative Framework

Pack, A. & Maloney, J. (2023). Potential Affordance of Generative AI in Language Education: Demonstrations and an Evaluative Framework. Teaching English with Technology 23(2),4-24.

This timely article provides a comprehensive overview of the potential affordances of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in language teaching, particularly the AI chatbot ChatGPT. As the authors note, much of the current discourse on AI in the education sector is concerned with how AI can or could be misused by students. Although serious issues such as plagiarism need attention, the article focuses on the potential of tools such as ChatGPT to support teaching and learning and to save valuable time in developing learning materials, assessment tasks and rubrics for evaluating student writing.

AI chatbots such as ChatGPT work through prompts provided by the users, and the authors offer examples of prompts designed to elicit quality, appropriate responses which can aid instructors in developing materials for instruction and learning and for assessment purposes. The examples provided are based on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) but could be drawn from other frameworks such as the CLB framework and/ or the LINC curriculum guidelines. The article also includes a discussion of how two existing frameworks, Hubbard‘s (1988, 2021) framework for evaluation and Bronfenbrenner‘s(1979), can be used in combination to assist language instructors in making informed decisions about when, how and why to use generative AI to support materials development and the creation of assessment tasks to be used in their own context.

The authors suggest that by combining elements of each framework, instructors can evaluate the use of AI tools for themselves and their students and consider how their use will align with the values and policies of the institutions and programs in which they work.

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Digital poetry for adult English learners with limited education: Possibilities in language learning, literacy development and interculturality

Kempster, J.R. Digital poetry for adult English learners with limited education: Possibilities in language learning, literacy development and interculturality. TESOL in Context, 31(2),5-22.

This article describes a digital literacy project involving poetry writing, using an online book creator app for English language learners with emergent print literacy skills. The project was conducted in a beginners class in the Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP) in Australia.

The author provides a comprehensive outline of the background to the project and its theoretical underpinnings including a sociocultural perspective and a strengths-based approach to language and literacy teaching and learning. The project incorporated the Mutually Adaptive Learning Paradigm (MALP) checklist  which include accepting the conditions for learning, combining processes for learning and focusing on new activities for learning to guide the planning and delivery of the program.

The project was initiated when students in the class indicated that due to their sense of unpreparedness for online learning as the program moved to emergency remote learning at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic they wanted to have an opportunity to enhance and extend their digital skills, including using a keyboard, emailing and learning about smartphone applications and functions.

The project enabled personal exploration and agency as students chose content from their memories and life experience to create their poems. The text, the story of a refugee resetting in Australia, helped students elicit their own memories and content for their poems.

In the classroom students worked in small groups to share memories, co-drafted their poems with the instructor and then typed the texts into the book creator, independently or with the direct support of the instructor. The students had opportunities to become familiar with a range of digital tools for various purposes including online typing practice logging in to sites, navigating online maps and using the basic tools in the online book publishing program.

The book created in this project can be accessed here: Remember Me

Based on the what was learned in this project the author suggests that future research  or digital literacy work in the language classroom could productively focus on the potential of strengths-based approaches. This would draw on students’ languages, their life experiences and their accumulated knowledge. It could also focus on how poetry writing, as a digital literacy project, can motivate and support language and literacy learning and has the potential to  build and foster community and intercultural understanding

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The Power of the Voice in Facilitating and Maintaining Online Presence in the Era of Zoom and Teams

Cribb, M. (2023). The Power of the Voice in Facilitating and Maintaining Online Presence in the Era of Zoom and Teams. TESL-EJ, 27(2).

This article examines the important role of voice in creating and maintaining teacher presence, described as, “…the ‘ability to command a room, hold pupils’ attention, and create an atmosphere of focus and inspiration” in the online classroom and provides helpful advice for online instructors to improve audio quality.

The author argues that since many of the elements that support teacher presence, such as  face-to-face contact and body language, are missing in the online classroom, the voice takes on a critical role as the connector between teacher and students. However, this important element is somewhat overlooked as instructors may be dependent on poor quality microphones and inadequate set-up.

In order to address these deficiencies the author has developed the Voice Audio Rating Scale (VARS) designed to assess the voice signal as it is transmitted from teacher to student using platforms such as Zoom or Teams.

This simple tool is designed to be used by language instructors to test audio quality as they prepare their online classes. The author provides useful advice on microphone quality and use to maximize audio quality so that  the quality of voice can effectively support teacher presence and thus minimize issues of poor communication and student disengagement.

The author also discusses the communication and interaction challenges that can arise in hybrid teaching and learning environments and how these may be at least partially addressed  through attention to audio quality.

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Blended learning materials for language acquisition

Tomlinson, B. (2023). Blended learning materials for language acquisition. Journal of English Language Teaching Innovations and Materials (Jeltim),5 (1) 1-16.

This article provides a comprehensive overview of the development of materials to support language acquisition in a blended language learning environment.

The author defines materials development as “the design, production, and utilisation of anything intended to facilitate language acquisition. This could be a story, a listening activity, a debate, a photo, a video, a board game, a communication task, a blog, a discovery task, an advertisement, an e-mail or even a sequence of questions.”

He identifies four important principles of language acquisition and offers a brief discussion and description of each of these principles.

These are:

  • A pre-requisite for language acquisition is that the learners experience language in use that is rich, recycled, meaningful, embodied, and comprehensible.
  • Learners need to be affectively engaged in their language experience.
  • Use experiential approaches in which the learners first of all experience the language in use and then move gradually from apprehension to comprehension (Kolb & Kolb, 2017), to a personal response, to reflection, to analysis.
  • Learners need opportunities to use the language for contextualised and purposeful communication.

For each of these principles the author provides a discussion of the elements and procedures for materials development in a blended learning environment, and examples of learning activities for both face-to-face and online learning. Essentially, he recommends that learning opportunities that rely on oral interactions take place face-to-face while those that can best  be provided remotely are delivered online.

He argues that  the elements of blended language learning courses, including materials development should be fully connected and integrated to  optimise the potential of in-person and online teaching  to provide an effective blended learning experience.

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ChatGPT for Language Teaching and Learning

 Kohnke, L ., Benjamin  Moorhouse, L. & Di Zou, D. (2023) ChatGPT for Language Teaching and Learning. RELC Journal OnlineFirst, April 3, 2023.

 This short article provides a useful introductory technology review and discussion of the possible affordances and the challenges of the AI chatbot ChatGPT for language teaching and learning. The article outlines some of the possible affordances of Chat GPT, for instructors and students. For example, ChatGPT can be used to identify word meanings in context, explain language mistakes, generate texts, e.g., emails and stories etc., develop quizzes and provide dictionary definitions.  

There are several ongoing debates about the use of ChatGPT in education generally.  Educators have questioned the ethical use of ChatGPT including the possibility of cheating, and how it may affect assessment. Since it does not supply sources or citations, there are concerns about the accuracy of ChatGPT responses which may mislead students. There are also questions about cultural bias, since most of the texts in the database are English; this may be of particular concern in language education as students from diverse cultural backgrounds may not be aware that this tool is not culturally neutral.

The authors argue that the effective use of ChatGPT will require the development of specific digital competencies in three broad categories. Instructors will need Technological Proficiency, including understanding the features of ChatGPT and how it works; Pedagogical Compatibility, that is consideration of how this tool could be used to enhance language teaching and learning, planning for implementation, and providing guidance for students to use the tool for independent learning. Social Awareness includes critical awareness of the challenges of ChatGPT and supporting students to understand the challenges and the risks and ethical issues inherent in the use of the tool.

The article concludes with a list of suggestions of how students can use ChatGPT to improve their English language learning.

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Affective Support for Self-Regulation in Mobile-Assisted Language Learning

Viberg, Olga, Agnes Kukulska-Hulme, and Ward Peeters.(2023) Affective Support for Self-Regulation in Mobile-Assisted Language Learning. International Journal of Mobile and Blended Learning (IJMBL) 15 (2) 1-15.

This article examines the role and importance of affective learning, defined by “learners’ beliefs, attitudes, and emotions”  in a Mobile-Assisted Language Learning (MALL) environment, and how affective learning influences how language learners develop language skills and engage effectively with learning

A review of literature examining language learners’ use of MALL indicates that while the use of apps, digital resources and online communities continues to increase, there is a body of evidence suggesting that while language learners are often adept at using MALL to further their learning, they need ongoing guidance and support to manage their learning and to develop critical self-regulation skills  enabling them to take advantage of the range of learning opportunities offered by MALL.

The authors argue that in the MALL environment affective learning support can be provided to learners in two ways, first in the design of the apps and digital resources and second through the active assistance of the instructor.

In this context they offer the MALLAS framework as a model  for learning designers as they develop support services, such as mobile apps, for language learners  and to assist instructors in supporting learners to develop effective learning strategies in MALL and to develop and extend their self-regulation skills in this environment.

While MALL allows for in-class and out-of-class learning, enabling learners to practice their language skills on their own, or with friends and often without an instructor, the authors emphasize the critical role of the instructor. Instructors can help students to regulate their learning in MALL, by identifying learning strategies and developing activities that motivate learning and persistence, by guiding students in the evaluation their ongoing learning in MALL and  in helping them to connect their in-class and out-of-class learning.

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The Affordances and Contradictions of AI-Generated Text for Second Language Writers

Warschauer, M., et al. (2023). The Affordances and Contradictions of AI-Generated Text for Second Language Writers SSRN.

This timely report looks at how to approach the affordances of AI-writing tools like ChatGPT in second language classrooms, while maintaining the importance of learners first developing writing skills without these tools. The authors encourage ongoing critical discussion about AI-generated text to ensure that educators learn how to manage it in their educational context, rather than simply banning it. They make the point that learners will most likely be expected to be able to use AI-generated text in employment situations and will be at a disadvantage if they have no experience with the tools or think of them as “cheating tools” or shortcuts.

The authors propose a five-part framework to help learners find their way with ChatGPT. It includes these components: understand, access, prompt, corroborate and incorporate. They provide a list of prompt types and examples of each one. They describe and explain the reasons for each of the other components of the framework. The report also presents a sample list of the functions of ChatGPT to explain some of its uses.

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Emerging technologies and language learning: mining the past to transform the future

Hubbard, Philip. (2023) Emerging technologies and language learning: mining the past to transform the future.  Journal of China Computer-Assisted Language Learning, 2-19.

This article is a personal reflection on the lessons the author, has learned over four decades of teaching and research in Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL).

In the article, Dr. Hubbard begins by offering a simple model of technology-mediated language learning, developed through his experiences and reflection on using technology as an instructor.  This model illustrates what he describes as the elements of a technology mediation system, and how interactions through technology are influenced by that technology, and how technology can support and indeed sometimes impede language learning. He concludes, “… teachers, researchers and developers need to go beyond surface affordances and do what they can to take into account the potential elements of the technology mediation system on the learners as they engage in interactions.”

He then goes on to review seven experiences from his work in CALL, beginning in the 1980’s, which ultimately shaped his teaching, research and professional activities. These include software evaluation, computer games for language learning, learner training and using MALL.

Finally, he offers for consideration a set of guiding principles based on his own learning and insights gained over several decades as a language instructor and researcher as follows :

  1. Consider the mediational properties of the technology you want to use and how they relate to the learning goals.
  2. Be sure to understand how an application or technology-based task works before judging its value. When you do judge it, consider it from the perspective of how it fits both you and your students.
  3. Avoid hype—be especially skeptical of unsupported claims about emerging technologies.
  4. Seek out relevant research and practice literature but read it critically.
  5. Teach reflectively with technology. Plan thoughtfully, monitor what is happening with your students while they are using technology, and especially reflect afterwards. Encourage your students to do the same to improve their use of that technology for future learning.
  6. Take time and make the effort to train your students to use technology more effectively for language learning.

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EFL learners dropping out of blended language learning classes: A replication of Stracke (2007)

Stracke, E., Nguyen, G.H. & Nguyen, V. (2023). EFL learners dropping out of blended language learning classes: A replication of Stracke (2007). ReCALL FirstView, 1–15.

This report revisits Stracke’s 2007 analysis of reasons language learners dropped out of blended learning classes. The comments of the five learners in the new study reveal that two of the original reasons for dissatisfaction are no longer relevant: a lack of print materials and a dislike of using the computer for language learning. However, the other reason that was significant in 2007 remains important today: the importance of the face-to-face component and the online component complementing each other.

Additional reasons for learner dissatisfaction are included: a lack of teacher support, feedback and guidance; a need for a more learner-centred class; a desire for spontaneous communication in both the face-to-face class and online; a need to build relationships with both teachers and other learners.

The discussion that follows the study information includes a comparison with Stracke’s findings and background to the current findings. the researchers also provide some recommendations to address areas where changes could be made.

The authors emphasize the importance of teachers, relevant teacher training and materials development as they zero in on the obstacles that these learners identified as barriers to their continuing in their program.

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How can blended learning English-as-a-second-language courses incorporate with cultural heritage, building, and sense of sustainable development goals?: A case study

Kwee, C.T.T. & Dos Santos, L.M. (2022) How can blended learning English-as-a-second-language courses incorporate with cultural heritage, building, and sense of sustainable development goals?: A case study. Front. Ed., 7:966803

This article describes a small-scale case study of a group of forty international students enrolled in three blended ESL programs in a community college in the United States which incorporated elements of digitized cultural heritage and heritage buildings in the course curriculum. Using a range of digital tools including video and virtual tours, students had the opportunity to learn about local and national history and heritage buildings as a component of their language learning.

Following the course, data was collected using one-on-one semi-structured interviews and focus groups. This data indicated that students experienced high levels of language learning engagement and motivation due to their high level of interest in the cultural and heritage content. Students also reported a significant increase in cultural awareness and an understanding of local history and sense of place.

Although the context of this study is a course for international students in the U.S., the description of incorporation of  digitized local and national cultural heritage and buildings and the responses of students provide useful insights that will be of interest to language instructors and curriculum developers working with newcomers to Canada.

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Teaching the pronunciation of vowels on Zoom

Tiittanen, M. (2022) Teaching the Pronunciation of Vowels on Zoom. TESL Ontario Contact Magazine, 48 (3) 15-20.

The author presents suggestions for teaching vowels using synchronous video. He includes information about the advantages of doing this, e.g., the ESL teacher being able to magnify their mouth, tongue, lips and jaw. A benefit for the ESL learner is that they can see their own mouths on-screen as they attempt the same sounds and compare them with the teacher’s model.

Tiittanen provides a brief reference list to support his suggestions for teaching a number of vowels. In addition to describing teaching methods he also includes helpful videos to illustrate this in action and gives the reader a link to his Pronunciation Channel on YouTube. This enables ESL learners to view the videos to practise as often as they want.

In addition to valuable information about how to teach using Zoom or other synchronous video, Tiittanen discusses the safety concerns that were a key aspect of teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic as well as issues of classroom noise and personal space and distance that are still relevant for pronunciation teachers as the pandemic recedes.

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Lessons learned during COVID 19: Towards Blended Learning and Teaching in LINC and ESL

Cummings, J. & Fayed, I. (2022) Lessons Learned During Covid-19: Towards Blended Learning and Teaching in LINC and ESL. TESL Ontario Contact Magazine, 48 (3)21-29.

This timely article provides a review of the recent, noticeable increase in the adoption of a blended learning model in ESL/LINC teaching and learning.  This increase is likely attributable to the requirement for programs to rapidly shift to asynchronous delivery and online classes using video conference software such as Zoom, Google Classroom and Microsoft Teams as COVID-19 pandemic restrictions were introduced. ESL/LINC programs quickly adapted and, although often challenged, were able to make the switch to asynchronous and live online teaching to enable students to continue learning.

The authors note that although COVID-19 restrictions have ceased or have been progressively removed, the shift to the incorporation of a blended learning model in ESL/LINC continues. Programs and instructors continue to build on what was learned about the potential of blended learning to effectively support and enhance language learning, and to develop their  knowledge of effective online teaching and learning.

The article includes an illustrative discussion of how to blend some sample tasks based on the LINC Level 5 curriculum and provides some priority recommendations to support LINC and ESL instructors in the effective adoption and implementation of blended learning. These are:

  • Development of instructor training and resources for blended learning/teaching
  • The inclusion of courses and workshops focused on a Development of instructor training and resources for blended learning/teaching approach in TESL teacher and education programs and in ongoing professional development
  • Recognition by programs and funders of increasing demands on instructors in terms of professional development and preparation time, so as to enable them to effectively prepare, plan and implement blended learning
  • The need for an increased focus on digital literacy skills in concert with language skills, to enable learners to take advantage of the opportunities to explore and learn offered in a online environment

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Newcomers and the Digital Divide

Lukawiecki, J., Khan, A., & Bedi, G. (2022). Newcomer families in Canada and the digital divide. Guelph, ON: Community Engaged Scholarship Institute.

This study, in partnership with the Local Immigration Partnership in the Guelph-Wellington area in Southwestern Ontario looks at a number of newcomer services impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, focusing on ESL and digital literacy training. The report includes a brief review of academic literature looking at newcomers’ use of technology. It then describes services available throughout the region and describes the challenges as agencies adapted to providing them online.

One of the major conclusions from the report is that there are significant differences in in newcomers’ experience of the digital divide depending on language levels, gender, education, previous employment and/or professional status. It also notes areas where online services eliminated some barriers for newcomers.

The report makes recommendations about how to meet newcomers’ digital needs better through activities like providing them with devices and Wifi connections when needed, improved staff training, enlisting newcomers with language and digital literacy proficiency as “navigators” for others, mobile home services to ready clients for work interviews and frequent communication with clients using a variety of methods.

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