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

 

 

“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/

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