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

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.)

Retrievable: https://scholarspace.manoa.hawaii.edu/server/api/core/bitstreams/2426d4f6-edd4-4f86-bbd5-b20c03e8384e/content

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.

Retrievable from: https://journal.nystesol.org/Vol10no1/Cowin_V10_1.pdf

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.

Retrievable from: https://tesl-ej.org/wordpress/issues/volume-27/ej106/ej106int/

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.

Retrievable from: https://www.igi-global.com/gateway/article/full-text-html/318226&riu=true

Teachers’ technology-related self-images and roles: Exploring CALL teachers’ professional identity

Shafiee, Z., Marandi, S. S., & Mirzaeian, V. R. Teachers’ technology-related self images and roles: Exploring CALL teachers’ professional identity. Language Learning & Technology, 26(1), 1–20.

This article describes a small, preliminary study examining the professional identity of language instructors who actively integrate technology with language instruction. and are described as CALL teachers. The goal of the study is to extend understanding of what the authors describe as CALLTPI, (CALL teachers’ professional identity).

The study is based on an extensive review of literature exploring teacher identity, defined as “teachers’ self images and perceptions that “determine the way teachers teach, the way they develop as teachers, and their attitudes towards educational changes”(p.3)and the use of  a semi-structured interview methodology in which 24 CALL teacher educators, academics who taught CALL courses and used technology to teach language-related subjects, and classroom language instructors who used digital technology in virtual, blended or technology enhanced learning environments. The interview questions were designed to explore CALL teachers’ “perceived teaching roles, self-image, confidence, sense of self-efficacy, skills, and knowledge that contribute to enacting their teaching roles, solving pedagogical and technical problems, dealing with ethical challenges, and making decisions in technology-enhanced teaching environments.

Based on these interviews the authors identify three major themes related to teacher identity. These are individual identity, classroom-based identity, and agentive identity. Individual identity is understood as their roles as professionals who use technology, classroom-based identity as their roles as teachers who integrate technology in their classrooms and agentive identity as playing an active role in the integration and use of technology, in supporting and influencing students in the effective use of technology for learning and serving as role models for students and colleagues.

The authors note the need for further research on teacher professional identity related to computer-assisted language learning (CALL), and to help inform the work of curriculum designers and material developers in the area language instruction.

Retrievable from: https://scholarspace.manoa.hawaii.edu/server/api/core/bitstreams/95924c83-7fea-4d5b-bf28-a37c7be3fbda/content

Strengthening Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada: Learning from Experiences in Saskatoon

Nadia Maqbool. “Strengthening Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada: Learning from Experiences in Saskatoon” M.Ed. Thesis. University of Saskatchewan, 2022.

This M.Ed. thesis from the University of Saskatchewan documents a very recent study examining the learning needs of new ESL LINC instructors as they begin their teaching careers.

The research questions focussed on what is expected of these instructors in their workplaces, the challenges they encounter and the supports they need. Using a qualitative research methodology, the researcher surveyed new ESL LINC instructors in Saskatoon to arrive at a clearer understanding of their experiences, and to identify potential actions to improve the overall orientation, training, and ongoing professional development process for ESL LINC instructors.

In general, these instructors indicated a need for more support and guidance in understanding the LINC system, the CLB and PBLA, and a need for more robust technical support in LINC programs, and enhanced support in the effective use of technology for online, blended, and remote teaching and learning.

Participants identified concerns about their unfamiliarity with digital technologies, lack of experience in online teaching, and the ongoing challenges of confronting technical issues in virtual classrooms. In addition, participants expressed concerns about the challenges of online and blended learning environments in working with learners at CLB Levels 1-4, and concurrent issues in supporting learners who may not have sufficient familiarity with digital technologies and have ongoing needs for technical supports.

Based on participant responses, the study includes recommendations for practices that could enhance the experience of new ESL LINC instructors, including assigning mentors to new instructors, providing clear instructions on online and blended learning, and a thorough orientation to software and applications in use in LINC classrooms.

Retrievable from : https://harvest.usask.ca/handle/10388/13827

IDEAL Distance Education and Blended Learning Handbook

IDEAL Distance Education and Blended Learning Handbook, IDEAL Consortium (2016).

The 5th edition of the IDEAL Distance and Blended Learning Handbook is intended as practical guide for educators to support the delivery of distance education, including blended learning. Each of the six chapters of the Handbook focuses on a single aspect of planning and delivering distance education:

  1. Recruitment: Identifying and Recruiting Students
  2. Screen: Determining Who is Ready for Distance and Blended Learning
  3. Orientation: Setting Up Learners for Success
  4. Instruction: Models and Strategies Supporting Involved Instruction and Communication
  5. Assessment: Student Participation and Progress
  6. Administrative Issues: Getting Started with Distance Education

Informed by current research and the work of educators and administrators in the IDEAL program in the U.S. since 2002 this handbook is an invaluable resource to support planning and delivering effective distance and blended learning programs

 

Retrievable from: http://ideal.worlded.org/pdf/IDEAL_Handbook.pdf