Mobile and blended, please! Migrants and refugees’ learning choices in a language MOOC

Read, R. & Martín-Monje, E. Mobile and blended, please! Migrants and refugees learning choices in a language MOOC. The JALT CALL Journal, 17,3(2021): 256-276

This article reports on a study of 2 language MOOCs for refugees and migrants to Spain as part of the European Commission’s MOONLITE project.  The MOOCs were designed and developed in consultation with refugee support groups and language instructors who participated in the design, piloting, and delivery of the courses. The courses were designed to address the functional needs of the participants, e.g. looking for housing, training and employment, civil rights.

Although the context of this study is European, it offers a relevant and useful model of functional language training  that may have potential in the field  of language instruction for newcomers to Canada.

The study examined the types of digital devices that participants preferred to use for the courses, whether the choice of device affected course completion, and how teaching practice affected the outcomes for participants. Based on quantitative and qualitative data, the study indicated that participants preferred to use mobile devices, such as smartphones which enabled “anytime anywhere” learning and that the use of mobile devices contributed to the successful completion of the courses by most of the participants. The study indicated that this preference is because, for the majority of participants, smartphones were the only technology they had regular access to and were accustomed to using them in their daily lives. Most participants who successfully completed the course were also enrolled in F2F language classes and used the LMOOCS to complement their classroom learning. The study concluded that the use of a blended learning model contributed to the successful completion of the courses.

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A person-centred approach to L2 learners’ informal mobile language learning

Peng, H., Sake,J., Lowie, W. (2021). A person-centred approach to L2 learners informal mobile language learning. Computer Assisted Language Learning. [Published Online January 2021]

The study investigated the informal mobile language learning activities of the students, using a person-centred approach which the authors define as an  approach which “…views each individual as a functioning whole, with interwoven components jointly contributing to the process of individual development”: (p.5) The components include individual learning behaviours, motivation, emotion and learning context. This approach, rather than viewing the components as separate variables, seeks to view them as interrelated and as pointing to a learning pattern.

Cluster analysis of the data from a questionnaire resulted in the identification of 6 types of learners each with what the researchers describe as “a distinct package of motivational, emotional and linguistic interaction. The “learner types” ranged from those who spent little or no time on language learning outside the classroom to those who made extensive use of mobile technologies for informal language learning.   

Although this article reports on the methodology and results of a study conducted with 240 English language students in a Chinese university, the methodology used and the findings, will be of interest to researchers and language instructors in a variety of language learning contexts.  The article provides an accessible explanation of the person-centred approach and its potential to help to develop a clearer and finer-grained understanding of the complexities and possibilities of mobile language learning.

In addition, the use of a person-centred approach has the potential to support instructors in the design of tailored instruction and scaffolding at all learning levels  to better enable students to make productive use of self-directed, informal mobile language learning.

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Research on Mobile Learning in the English Classroom: Pedagogies, Computer developments and Teachers’ Reactions

Barrientos, M. (2019). Research on Mobile Learning in the English Classroom. Revista de Lenguas Modernas, (30) 2019, pp 251-266.

The author provides a literature review focused on the following four areas of mobile learning in English language classrooms to explore not only the feasibility and implications of integrating mobile learning in secondary EFL classrooms in Costa Rica, but advantages and disadvantages in these areas:

  1. The development of pedagogical models for mobile learning in the English language class
  2. Defining the platforms and infrastructure solutions for appropriate integration of mobile learning
  3. A description of the mobile devices apps and links
  4. Training and reactions of English teachers

The report concludes with a number of research questions for further exploration. Although this review looks at the questions for high school EFL language planning in Costa Rica, the same questions could be asked about planning for adult settlement language classes in Canada.