Chakowa, J. (2018). Enhancing Beginners’ Second language learning through an informal online environment. Journal of Educators Online, 15 (1).
This research report describes the use of four online tools, VoiceThread ; Padlet ; Voki and Quizlet to encourage beginning language learners to communicate and collaborate in the target language.
It offers a very clear and comprehensive description of how these tools were used, including a detailed account of student experience and reaction to using the tools and how they supported motivation, participation and persistence.
Although context for this study is a French beginner’s course at Monash University in Australia it provides very useful insights into how the use of multiple online tools in combination can be used to support student motivation and participation even at early levels of language learning, no matter the target language.
Overall the results of the study reveal several key features that will be useful to language instructors as they work to incorporate online tools and to encourage participation and motivation for their students. These include:
- the importance of face-to-face orientation to the online environment and tools that will be used
- introducing students to each other so they feel connected before they begin to work online
- using multiple online tools, in combination so that all students have options to participate
- strategies to maintain motivation (including providing blended learning, i.e., a combination of face-to-face and online activities)
- focus on pedagogy rather than technology
- activities that are not overly focused on linguistic accuracy, but include elements of cultural awareness so that students of all language learning levels can be included and encouraged.