Newcomers and the Digital Divide

Lukawiecki, J., Khan, A., & Bedi, G. (2022). Newcomer families in Canada and the digital divide. Guelph, ON: Community Engaged Scholarship Institute.

This study, in partnership with the Local Immigration Partnership in the Guelph-Wellington area in Southwestern Ontario looks at a number of newcomer services impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, focusing on ESL and digital literacy training. The report includes a brief review of academic literature looking at newcomers’ use of technology. It then describes services available throughout the region and describes the challenges as agencies adapted to providing them online.

One of the major conclusions from the report is that there are significant differences in in newcomers’ experience of the digital divide depending on language levels, gender, education, previous employment and/or professional status. It also notes areas where online services eliminated some barriers for newcomers.

The report makes recommendations about how to meet newcomers’ digital needs better through activities like providing them with devices and Wifi connections when needed, improved staff training, enlisting newcomers with language and digital literacy proficiency as “navigators” for others, mobile home services to ready clients for work interviews and frequent communication with clients using a variety of methods.

Retrievable from:

https://atrium.lib.uoguelph.ca/xmlui/handle/10214/26971

“Google and me together can read anything.” Online reading strategies to build independent readers in the ESL classroom.

Jose, K. (2021). “Google and me together can read anything.” Online reading strategies to build independent readers in the ESL classroom. Journal of Language and Linguistic Studies, 17(2), 896-914.

This article provides the findings of a research study investigating the potential of reading using online texts or hypertexts in addition to print textbooks in the ESL reading classroom. The research examined and described the reading and navigation strategies used by students in reading online texts.

 It was found that readers demonstrated higher levels of comprehension in tests based on online texts. Given that in this digital age, and given the ubiquity of digital devices, many of us look to the internet as a primary source of information, the author argues the use of online texts in the reading classroom is a more authentic activity for students, one that they are more comfortable with in their daily lives. He further argues that the use of digital texts in developing online reading comprehension will support students in the development of their critical information literacy skills and foster lifelong reading habits.

The author concludes that ESL reading instructors should engage in strategy training to support students in the use of online texts to enhance reading comprehension, and to help to build lifelong, independent reading habits in ESL readers.  

Retrievable from: https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1313909.pdf

Google Translate as a Tool for Self-Directed Language Learning

van Lieshout, C., & Cardoso, W. (2022). Google Translate as a tool for self-directed language learning. Language Learning & Technology, 26(1), 1–19.

Many language learners have to overcome obstacles when they want to learn a new language. This may result in them making attempts to learn the language on their own. This study looks at three features that define successful self-directed learners: self-motivation, use of independent learning strategies and an ability to self-assess whether those strategies are effective. The authors look to affordances of Google Translate that can help to enable self-directed learning.

The study provides background on both self-directed learning and self-directed language learning and examines the impact of Google Translate on the latter in the areas of vocabulary and pronunciation.

The study explored these two questions:

To what extent can learners acquire phrases and their pronunciations after using Google Translate in a self-directed language learning environment?

How do learners interact with Google Translate to learn an L2?

Although the study looked at learners of Dutch as a foreign language, because Google Translate is widely available, the findings will be of interest for many learners who want to learn and continue to learn on their own and to teachers who would like to include some of these self-directed tools for use beyond the classroom.

Retrievable from:

https://www.lltjournal.org/item/10125-73460/

Here are two quite different studies of Google Translate in second language learning:

A “Hands-On” Approach to Raise Awareness of Technologies: A Pilot Class and its Lessons

Retrievable from:

https://escholarship.org/uc/item/3ds2d55b

Using an ADAPT Approach to Integrate Google Translate into the Second Language Classroom

Retrievable from:

https://escholarship.org/uc/item/8dm2p4bb

Pedagogical lessons for Remote/Blended Online Classrooms

Englander, K. & Russell, B. TESL Ontario Contact November 28, 2021.

This article reports on insights gained during a COVID-19 pivot to remote teaching and learning in a university language program. Five key practices emerged from how learners and instructors handled the new technology-mediated curriculum. The article references the Community of Inquiry framework and its origins at Athabasca University in Alberta two decades ago. The framework was used to inform curriculum design and a research study on remote teaching and learning in the 2020-21 year, during COVID-19. The report discusses the three presences from the framework: cognitive presence, social presence and teaching presence. These three presences are identified as central to learners’ experience in online teaching and learning. The research from this program indicated that the most important presence for learner satisfaction was teaching presence. Social presence during the phase reported on, was the least satisfactory in that learners did not feel they met other “real” students, that they were not able to build connections with either the class or the school.

As a result of the data collected, the program put together these five best practices that aim to maximize already positive teaching presence and enhance social presence.

  1. Your presence makes the difference.
  2. Keep cameras on.
  3. Create lecturettes.
  4. Make learning affordances explicit.
  5. Reconsider assessment.

Here are two examples of the five best practices:

When using a platform that allows cameras, keep all cameras on. Students said that seeing each other was much more satisfying during synchronous sessions. Despite valid concerns about privacy, students could be disengaged if they could not see their classmates; occasionally students were not physically online when there was no camera; and in break out rooms, when faces were represented by a shaded thumbnail, it was difficult to have discussions. Faces and voices were important for intellectual interaction with course content and other learners.

Create “lecturettes”. Classes in this program were normally three hours long, twice a week, in a classroom. When this was rethought for online delivery, one of the new components was a one-hour pre-recorded lecture to be watched before a synchronous class. After learners reacted negatively to these hour-long lectures, instructors experimented with breaking the content into more manageable 5-, 10- or 20-minute lecturettes. This type of content was managed by numbering the segments so the order was obvious. Learners could take advantage of these shorter content bursts using pause, rewind and replay as desired.

The remaining three best practices, Your presence makes the difference, Make affordances explicit and Reconsider assessment also provide excellent examples of how to help instructors make research-informed decisions about their own teaching in an online environment.

Retrievable from:

http://contact.teslontario.org/pedagogical-lessons-for-remote-blended-online-classrooms/

How to Manage Expectations in Online Classes: Guidelines and Requirement

Hasiri, F. TESL Ontario Contact. August 25, 2021.

This very practical article details many examples of how teachers who have to teach in an online environment during COVID can be more effective meeting learners’ expectations. Since many teachers and learners were not prepared ahead of time for this kind of learning, the author presents guidelines to consider before starting a period of teaching. The guidelines address planning and preparation, delivery, learner engagement and interaction. She gives suggestions for being explicit with learners around expectations for participation in discussion fora. Her suggestions for course assessment may appear to be related to credit courses only, but they are also relevant for continuous intake or non-credit classes. The article concludes with a downloadable check list for instructors to zero in on both the planning stage and a reflection period afterwards with the intention of managing learner expectations and helping them succeed in the online language learning environment.

Retrievable from:

http://contact.teslontario.org/how-to-manage-expectations-in-online-classes-guidelines-and-requirements/

Technology, Motivation and Autonomy, and Teacher Psychology in Language Learning: Exploring the Myths and Possibilities

Glenn Stockwell and Hayo Reinders. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics (2019) 39, 40-51.

This article explores why the expectations of technology use in language teaching and learning might exceed the results and looks at some of the myths about using technology for language learning and teaching. The authors reference Stephen Bax‘ points about certain fallacies that inhibit the normalization of technology use. They discuss the kinds of pedagogy that need to be applied to ensure learner motivation and autonomy. They also discuss the role of teachers and their attitudes that often underestimate their own abilities to teach effectively with technology and overestimate learners’ capability to learn with tech tools without teacher intervention. The article concludes with five pedagogical principles for using technology in the classroom.

Retrievable from:

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/335242146_Technology_Motivation_and_Autonomy_and_Teacher_Psychology_in_Language_Learning_Exploring_the_Myths_and_Possibilities_-_CORRIGENDUM

Exploring blended learning experiences through the community of inquiry framework

Zhang, R. (2020). Exploring blended learning experiences through the community of inquiry framework. Language Learning & Technology, 24(1), 38–53. https://doi.org/10125/44707

The two research questions for this study are:

  1. What is the interrelationship among teaching, social and cognitive presences of Community of Inquiry (CoI) in the students’ blended learning experiences?
  2. How does blended learning impact the students’ learning experiences?

The study looks at a group of graduate students at a Chinese technical university who attended an innovative blended learning course in English for Agriculture and Forestry. The course is based on a Community of Inquiry (CoI) framework. The report provides an introduction to a CoI framework and demonstrates how it can help in the design of effective blended learning processes. It  goes on to report on aspects of teaching presence, social presence and cognitive presence in the course. There are examples of student interviews and analysis of activities. Instructor’s participation and facilitation is highlighted as one of the factors influencing social presence and creating and maintaining a community throughout the learning process.

https://www.lltjournal.org/item/3131

Technology-mediated workplace language training: Developing and assessing a module for a blended curriculum for newcomers

McLellan, G. Technology-mediated workplace language training: Developing and assessing a module for a blended curriculum for newcomers. A thesis submitted to the Faculty of Graduate and postdoctoral Affairs: Carleton University, Ottawa. (2019).

This report on a small-scale Canadian study of a module developed for a blended occupation-specific language class looks at providing online components of language support to language learners who are already in the workplace. The author includes a literature review and highlights the essential nature of needs analysis to determine both language needs and technology needs in the workplace.  The developers used a Task-based language teaching approach in the module design. The learners who took part in the study had been assessed between Canadian Language Benchmarks 3 and 5 and were all working in the customer service sector. They all had mobile phones and were comfortable using them. The activities were developed in Moodle and were meant to be used on their phones. One of the potential advantages described was the ability to work on the activities in “dead time”, while commuting, waiting for an appointment, etc. The first module addressed the need for them to be able to greet customers and make requests. The module used video to illustrate greetings and requests in customer service settings. Many of the topics covered elsewhere in the bibliography, e.g., learner autonomy, attitudes towards learning with technology, mobile learning and the importance of teacher training are illustrated in the study.

Retrievable from:

https://curve.carleton.ca/system/files/etd/e1b4d39f-7c9b-4d4d-b451-687c439ec7e9/etd_pdf/fc0772b01f059336608c63be7d152fbd/mclellan-technologymediatedworkplacelanguagetraining.pdf

 

 

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.

https://revistas.ucr.ac.cr/index.php/rlm/article/view/38986

Empowering English Language Learners through Digital Literacies: Research, Complexities, and Implications

 

Chang,Y., Wang, L. & Eagle, J. (2019). Empowering English Language Learners through Digital Literacies: Research, Complexities, and Implications. Media and Communication. Vol 7(2).128-136.

This article provides an accessible overview of issues related to the digital literacies of English Language Learners (ELLs) in the U.S. The article highlights issues that are of increasing importance for adult settlement language learning in Canada and includes a description of evolving definitions of digital literacies and fluency and a short review of literature focusing on language teaching practices that support the development of digital literacies.
The authors argue that digital literacies and digital fluency can support language learner autonomy and provide authentic language learning experiences that meaningfully reflect the daily lives of the learners. The inclusion of digital literacies as part of the language learning process in the language classroom not only provides opportunities for authentic learning in the classroom but also supports learners to extend their language learning beyond the classroom. Furthermore, in an increasingly digitized society, digital literacies are essential for employment and ongoing learning and communication in day-to-day life. In order to effectively incorporate digital literacies as part of language teaching practice the authors highlight the need to support language instructors to engage in ongoing professional development in relation to the use of digital tools for teaching and learning.

Retrievable from:

https://www.cogitatiopress.com/mediaandcommunication/article/view/191

 

Migrants and Mobile Technology Use: Gaps in the Support Provided by Current Tools

Demmans Epp, C., (2017). Migrants and Mobile Technology Use: Gaps in the Support Provided by Current Tools. Journal of Interactive Media in Education, 2017(1), 2.

This article describes the findings of  a small-scale research project to examine how recent migrants to Canada make use of mobile technologies to support their English language learning.

The study indicates that recent migrants can and do make use of mobile technologies to access information, but that there is a need for more extensive supports to enable them to make better use of these technologies to support language language learning, including comprehension, production and language acquisition.

The researcher concludes that there is a need for, and an opportunity to create, more mobile technology tools and applications to help scaffold the development of new skills.There is also a need for mobile tools that could help language learners to better understand and communicate across a variety of forms of English and tools that would allow them to practice their communication skills, receive feedback which would, in turn, enable them to plan for future learning.

Retrievable from: https://www-jime.open.ac.uk/articles/10.5334/jime.432/

 

 

 

Enhancing Beginners’ Second language learning through an informal online environment

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.

Retrievable from:

https://www.thejeo.com/archive/archive/2018_151/chakowapdf

Educational Affordances of an Asynchronous Online Discussion Forum for Language Learners

Zhong, Q.M. Norton, H. (2018). Educational Affordances of an Asynchronous Online Discussion Forum for Language Learners. TESL-EJ, 22 (3).

This study asks the question, “What affordances does an asynchronous discussion board offer to second language learners ?” It describes some of the potential of this type of discussion, including providing time to reflect and research before responding and providing a non-threatening and collaborative learning environment. Although literature on this topic exists in fields other than second language acquisition, the authors intend for this study to fill the gap  that exists on its beneficial affordances in SLA.  A literature review  is provided on Affordance Theory and the use of asynchronous online discussion.

The authors identify four themes (Co-constructive collaborative e-learning environment, Group affiliations, Critical thinking and Learner autonomy) and sub-themes that emerged from the peer-moderated discussion forum. Although the study took place in a joint business degree articulation  between a New Zealand and Chinese institution, many of the sub-themes would be familiar to settlement language programs, e.g., greet team members by name, apologize, agree and disagree, introduce new or different topics.  The study reports high levels of postings that exceeded course requirements, but suggests further research  with a larger sample size is needed to determine which factors caused the motivation behind this.

Retrievable from

http://tesl-ej.org/pdf/ej87/a1.pdf

 

 

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.

 

Retrievable from

Chasing the butterfly effect: Informal language learning online as a complex system

Godwin-Jones, R. (2018). Chasing the butterfly effect: Informal language learning online as a complex system. Language Learning & Technology, 22(2), 8–27

This intriguing and thought provoking article provides a comprehensive review of how the multiple opportunities for students to engage in informal language learning, outside of the classroom or institutional settings, using digital technologies and social media platforms  has the potential to impact second-language (L2) development.   The author discusses the efficacy of a complexity- theory perspective in developing our understanding of the many variables at play in second language learning, and that of a learning systems perspective  in recognizing  the classroom, and the formal language learning environment are only one “learning space” in a learners “personal learning system” as they pursue second-language learning.

Retrievable from:

https://scholarspace.manoa.hawaii.edu/bitstream/10125/44643/1/22_02_emerging_godwin-jones_10125_44643.pdf

 

“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

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

Self-directed use of mobile devices for language learning beyond the classroom

 

Lai, C. & Zheng, D. (2017) Self-directed use of mobile devices for language learning beyond the classroom. ReCALL p.1-20

This article is based on a study conducted with language students in a university in Hong Kong, exploring their self-directed use of mobile devices for language learning outside of the classroom. The study revealed that the students used mobile devices to personalize their learning, rather than for communication, and that their use was determined by their own understanding of the affordances of the devices. How the students used mobile devices for language learning was also determined by their habits of use of these devices in their daily lives, and by the types of learning tasks they were engaged in. The authors suggest that these factors, based on a deeper understanding how students use mobile devices, should be considered when designing mobile learning activities. The finding of this study echo those of Trinder, R. (2017). Informal and deliberate learning with new technologies. ELT Journal, 71(4),402-412 (see annotation below) and underline the importance of learning how mobile devices are being used by students in daily life to shape the development of appropriate mobile language learning activities

Available for purchase ( $25.00 USD) at:

https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/recall/article/selfdirected-use-of-mobile-devices-for-language-learning-beyond-the-classroom/C60A8CE7FA2F2D3CC4548398BDAB828B

 

 

The Cambridge Guide to Blended Learning for Language Teaching

The Cambridge Guide to Blended Learning for Language Teaching. Edited by Michael McCarthy. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge UK. 2016.

This book is divided into five sections: Connecting (including Second Language Acquisition) Theories and Blended Learning, Implications for Teaching, Rethinking Learner Interaction, Case Studies and the Future of Blended Learning.

One of the case studies describes a language teacher education program that gradually transitioned from a traditional format to a blended one and moved from a behaviourist model to a more constructivist one in the process.

Available for purchase ($70.00 CDN) from Cambridge University Press.

The Potential of Blended ESOL Courses: Attitudes and Practices among the UK Immigrants

 

Jurate Matulioniene, Boston ESOL Academy, UK; Daiva Pundziuviene Bytautas Magnus University, Lithuania; The Potential of Blended ESOL Courses: Attitudes and Practices Among the UK Immigrants. Sustainable Multilingualism. Volume 10, Issue 1 (May 2017)

This research study looks at a small group of recent immigrants’ experience and attitudes to learning and opportunities and barriers to speaking English in the United Kingdom. The study provides background suggesting that language competences may be an important factor that influences immigrants’ progress in their new country.  Their findings include information on the individuals’ use of information and communication technologies (ICT) on a personal level, at work or for learning. These could include mobile and smart phones, email, digital cameras, scanners, social network etc.

The study examines these immigrants’ willingness to take part in blended language training and the barriers they see to doing that. The study asked if they would be interested in taking part in blended English classes that originated from their home countries, thus providing the support of their first language and at the same time help them keep the connection with their native countries.

They also present important considerations such as ensuring participants in such courses have the  technical proficiency required to participate effectively in a blended course.

Retrievable from: https://www.degruyter.com/view/j/sm.2017.10.issue-1/sm-2017-0006/sm-2017-0006.xml