Choosing an App for your lessons with the Padagogy Wheel

How can instructors evaluate the quality and appropriateness of apps to support language learning?  It can be a time-consuming and sometimes frustrating process.

TESL Ontario blogger John Allen  may have the answer. In this brief blog post he describes the Padagogy Wheel, developed by  Allan Carrington of Teach Thought and intended to help educators to evaluate apps based on the intended learning outcome. Underpinning the Padagogy Wheel is  the understanding that pedagogy should drive the technology and not the other way around.

In this post the author  outlines the process and describes his own experience in using the Padagogy Wheel to design a vocabulary lesson.

Retrievable from:


Effect of using texting on vocabulary instruction for English learners

Cummins, J. & Jia, L. (2019). Effect of using texting on vocabulary instruction for English learners. Language Learning & Technology, 23(2),43-64.

This small-scale research study conducted at a Canadian university focused on how the use of text messaging can support English language learners in developing and enhancing academic vocabulary acquisition.  Using a random control trial design, the researchers compared the student’s target vocabulary learning gains with and without the text messaging intervention. Results indicated that with the intervention students learned more target words, (direct effect) however there was no difference noted in more general academic vocabulary learning (transfer effect). Although this research was based in an academic setting it has interesting implications for vocabulary learning in all ESL settings, pointing to the potential for the use of text messaging as a useful tool to support and enhance vocabulary acquisition.

Retrievable from:


The Use of Dictionary Applications on Smartphones as a Tool to Enhance English Vocabulary Learning Skills

Charernsuk,J.,Surasin,J.,Kewara,P. The Use of Dictionary Applications on Smartphones as a Tool to Enhance English Vocabulary Learning Skills. HRD Journal, 10 (1),8-21

This study explored the use of dictionary applications on smartphones to support vocabulary acquisition. Using both quantitative (pre-and post- testing) and qualitative (researcher observation and semi-structured interviews with student participants) the researchers report that the use of dictionary applications by students did result in enhanced vocabulary acquisition and in helping students to improve their English pronunciation skills. The researchers also noted that although students were initially uncertain about how to use the applications, with experience they became quite comfortable in their use, and that their willingness to engage in more autonomous language learning increased.  Based on their observations the researchers recommend that instructors wishing to introduce dictionary applications on smartphones devote some time to thoroughly reviewing the applications for appropriateness to avoid initial confusion.  Although this study was conducted in a Gr. 9 English language class in Thailand, given the ubiquity of smartphones and the availability of a range of dictionary applications, this study demonstrates the usefulness of this tool  in vocabulary acquisition and points to the potential of using dictionary applications that will be of interest for instructors at all levels of English language teaching and learning.

Retrievable from:

Digital Literacies in Foreign and Second Language Education

CALICO Monograph Series Volume 12. (2014). Digital Literacies in Foreign and Second Language Education.

This volume from CALICO is made up of 12 chapters that look at digital literacy in language learning from many different perspectives. Among others, there is a challenge to Prensky’s characterization of Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants, a description of a survey-driven study of the use of digital tools for language teaching and learning, a framework that proposes how to close the digital divide, and an exploration of the affordances of digital social reading using the example of an open source tool called eComma. In this last example, in chapter 9, author Carl Blyth looks at some of the ways that e-readers can enable users to annotate a text and share their annotations with others. This new practice, called digital social reading, is similar to the way that readers of print text can write in the margins or meet as a book club to share their thoughts. Blyth presents and then addresses some of the opposition to this practice using examples from four case studies.

Retrievable from:

Technology and the Four Skills

Blake, R. (2016). Technology and the four skills. Language Learning & Technology, 20(2), 129-142.

The report looks at technology-mediated task-based language learning’s ability to integrate the four skills while recognizing that evaluation of language proficiency has not reached the same level of complexity and  continues to evaluate the four skills in isolation.

The author provides examples of asynchronous and synchronous tools that provide opportunities to move between skills while working on tasks. One example of this is an app that transcribes learners’ speech into the second language; whenever there is an error in the written transcription, the learner knows their pronunciation has deviated from the norm and can analyze the transcription and correct the original utterance so that it transcribes correctly. The author emphasizes the importance of planning activities such as these, including pre-activities, making sure all students know what is expected of them, providing instructions for any digital tools required and balancing conflicting needs where necessary. He also presents some of the concerns about how computers and computer screens affect communications and urges readers to be aware of possible miscommunication that may occur.

Retrievable from:

Teaching Workplace Cultural Communication (Online).

Nawaz, M. (2014). Teaching Workplace Cultural Communication (Online). Contact, 40(1), 24–28.

This article describes the Workplace Cultural Communications (Online) course offered by Immigrant Settlement and Integration Services (ISIS) to new and pre-arrival immigrants who are at Canadian Language Benchmarks 7/8. The course, on the Moodle platform, consists of 10 modules offered over a 10-week period. Each module focuses on a specific workplace cultural value and focuses on language, interchange and social norms in the Canadian workplace. Participants complete written and audio-recorded assignments in each module and also participate in a discussion forum where they can interact and share information about their current locations, professional background and workplace experiences.

Retrievable from:

Issues emerging from the pilot of an online module on vocabulary learning by low-educated adult immigrants.

Martha Young-Scholten,. (2015). Issues emerging from the pilot of an online module on vocabulary learning by low-educated adult immigrants. Language Issues: The ESOL Journal, 26(2), 41–45.

A report of an international pilot of online learning module for second-language instructors in North America and the European Union, conducted over a 5-week period in 2015. The instructors are working with learners who have been designated as low-educated and literacy acquisition (LESLLA). Based on two extensive surveys of the professional development and training needs of these instructors the online training module focused on vocabulary teaching and learning. The module, Topics in Vocabulary Learning for LESLLA Learners, (in English, Dutch German, Finnish and Spanish). was delivered using MOODLE. Learning materials were drawn from publications in each of these languages as well as translations of some English materials into the other languages. The author states that while more research is required to better understand how LESLLA learner develop vocabulary and move from fast-mapping to the use of new vocabulary in their daily lives, the value of this pilot is in support instructors in carrying out their own research to extend understanding of vocabulary acquisition this pilot. In addition, participants in the pilot, although it was of short duration, reported positive results based on their learning and experimenting with new techniques. The pilot also set the groundwork for the future development of a curriculum framework for LESLLA instructors, at the international level, which will allow instructors to share and exchange their experience and knowledge.

Cost: $USD 38.16

Retrievable from: