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.

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Significant Predictors for Effectiveness of Blended Learning In a Language Course

Wichadee, S. (2018) Significant predictors for effectiveness of blended learning in a language course. JALT Call Journal, Vol. 14, (1) 24-42.

Although this research study of 149 (90 female, 59 male) participants took place in an undergraduate university language course, the results are meaningful for adult learners who are in settlement language programs and for those who design blended programs for them as well. After highlighting the characteristics, rationale for and benefits of blended learning, the author goes on to explore satisfaction with the course being studied and participants’ learning performance.

The author identifies digital literacy, workload management, attitudes toward blended learning, online tool quality and face-to-face support to be among the factors identified in literature reviews as those that will have an impact on the effectiveness of blended learning.

The design of the course studied included a face-to-face orientation followed by alternating weeks of face-to-face classroom work and online self-study using online learning platforms. The knowledge gained in online weeks was checked in the face-to-face weeks.

One of the results of the study was that the more these students had positive attitudes towards blended learning, had digital literacy skills and received face-to-face support, the better their learning performance. In this study, workload management and quality of online tools did not affect learning scores. As far as satisfaction with the course, there were two factors that predicted satisfaction: face-to-face support and attitudes towards blended learning.

In the discussion at the end of the report the author provides additional background on how the course was modified for this study and details on students’ attitudes as he reviews how and why face-to-face support and attitudes toward blended learning were predictors of student satisfaction.


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Learning English with Modern Technology Student Survey Results.

Fahy, P., & Sturm, M. (2012). Learning English with Modern Technology Student Survey Results. New Media Language Training.

Results of an online survey of 176 language students (98.8% enrolled in LINC classes and 1.2% enrolled in ESL classes) in Ontario, and a related questionnaire by teachers in the surveyed programs conducted as part of the evaluation of the LearnIT2Teach project. The majority reported that they use portable digital devices, e.g., laptops and mobile phones. Most use these devices in the home, in the language lab and in local libraries. The major uses are email (90%) and staying connected with friends and family. Respondents thought that technology is helpful for learning English. Ninety-three percent of the students thought that newcomers should use technology to learn English; over half of the students surveyed reported a preference for a blended learning approach which they described as online learning with the support of a teacher. Barriers to technology use for English language learning, identified by the respondents, include lack of connectivity, poor English skills or lack of computer skills. The authors conclude that these results point to the need to ensure that students are comfortable in an online environment, and can profit from a blended learning approach. They recommend that programs leverage existing technology, integrate social elements since the majority of students use technology to stay connected and that funders and programs collaborate to remove accessibility and connectivity barriers.

Retrievable from: http://learnit2teach.ca/wpnew/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/LearningEnglishWithModernTechnology-19Aug2012.pdf

A road to understanding: A qualitative study into why learners drop out of a blended language learning (BLL) environment.

Stracke, E. (2007b). A road to understanding: A qualitative study into why learners drop out of a blended language learning (BLL) environment. ReCALL, 19(01), 57–78.

The paper reports on the reasons that a small, highly motivated group of students disliked a blended learning class enough to drop out within a few weeks and explores what is needed to avoid this happening. Although this paper reports on only three students, the reasons they dropped out are discussed elsewhere in this bibliography and can be seen to reveal fundamental issues that programs need to be aware of when implementing blended language learning initiatives. The reasons identified by the students for dropping out of the class included lack of support, e.g., guidance, sequencing, review by a teacher; prior beliefs about learning, e.g., the need for printed materials, and learning styles out of synch with the teaching style of the course; lack of connection or integration between the selfstudy portion and the classroom; difficulty and dislike working with the computer for one participant who didn’t realize ahead of time that the course was blended and an inability to relate to the computer as a medium for language learning. Stracke concludes by suggesting that more research is needed to understand why individual students like or dislike such a course and how to ensure that all students receive the support they need to succeed in similar language learning environments.

Available for purchase (USD $30.00 at: http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=691524

Making a Case for Learner Training in Technology Enhanced Language Learning Environments.

Philip Hubbard. (2013). Making a Case for Learner Training in Technology Enhanced Language Learning Environments. CALICO Journal, 30(2), 163–178.

The author focuses on the importance of learner training in technology-mediated language training. He presents four positions, (properly designed technology and tasks are transparent, learners have the ability to use technology optimally, digital natives don’t need training, specialized training for either teachers or learners is unnecessary), that would lead to avoiding learner training and then provides corresponding evidence that each of these positions is problematic and that learner training is essential. He presents a set of five learner training principles for teachers and developers that have had an impact on teachers as well as learners. The first principle is that as a teacher or developer, you should experience a computer-mediated course yourself. This is followed by a description of the result of teachers putting themselves in the role of language learner and the experience’s impact on them. He concludes that what really matters in technology-enhanced language learning is how learners use the technology and that teachers, researchers and developers should provide the guidance needed to use it well.
Retrievable from:https://journals.equinoxpub.com/index.php/CALICO/article/viewFile/22953/18959


Call for autonomy, competence and relatedness: Motivating language learning environments in Web 2.0

CALL for autonomy, competence and relatedness: Motivating language learning environments in Web 2.0.

Alm, A., (2006). CALL for autonomy, competence and relatedness: Motivating language learning environments in Web 2.0. The JALT CALL Journal, 2(3), 29–38.

The author looks at Web 2.0 tools in the light of motivational theory and self-determination theory, arguing that internet-based learning environments have to address basic needs of competence, relatedness and autonomy in order to create the conditions in which learners can motivate themselves. Some of the points made are that language learners have basically two communities they need to relate to in order to develop a sense of belonging – one within the class and another the community that speaks the language outside the class; while an in-class evaluation might be necessary for assessment purposes, a comment from a real-life audience is likely to have a stronger motivational impact on the learner. Alm argues that it is the balance between structure and choice that leads to learner autonomy. This article provides examples of practices that improve learner motivation.

Retrievable From: http://journal.jaltcall.org/articles/2_3_Alm.pdf

Enhancing the Autonomous Use of CALL – A new curriculum model in EFL.

Smith, K., & Craig, H. (2013). Enhancing the Autonomous Use of CALL – A new curriculum model in EFL. Calico Journal.l, 30(2), p-p 252-278.

This action research study evaluates the effectiveness of a CALL Learner Autonomy course in a blended EFL program at a Japanese university. The study looks at a number of reflective tools to help with learners’ motivational setbacks in a CALL environment due to a lack of computer skills or knowledge about how to use websites and software. These included tools to help learners with planning, organizing, tracking and evaluating their autonomous use of CALL resources.  The researchers found that regular and critical learner self-reflection through using these tools was a key factor contributing to a positive shift in study culture. It is included in the bibliography as an example of practices that have been examined to improve learner autonomy.

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