EFL learners dropping out of blended language learning classes: A replication of Stracke (2007)

Stracke, E., Nguyen, G.H. & Nguyen, V. (2023). EFL learners dropping out of blended language learning classes: A replication of Stracke (2007). ReCALL FirstView, 1–15.

This report revisits Stracke’s 2007 analysis of reasons language learners dropped out of blended learning classes. The comments of the five learners in the new study reveal that two of the original reasons for dissatisfaction are no longer relevant: a lack of print materials and a dislike of using the computer for language learning. However, the other reason that was significant in 2007 remains important today: the importance of the face-to-face component and the online component complementing each other.

Additional reasons for learner dissatisfaction are included: a lack of teacher support, feedback and guidance; a need for a more learner-centred class; a desire for spontaneous communication in both the face-to-face class and online; a need to build relationships with both teachers and other learners.

The discussion that follows the study information includes a comparison with Stracke’s findings and background to the current findings. the researchers also provide some recommendations to address areas where changes could be made.

The authors emphasize the importance of teachers, relevant teacher training and materials development as they zero in on the obstacles that these learners identified as barriers to their continuing in their program.

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How can blended learning English-as-a-second-language courses incorporate with cultural heritage, building, and sense of sustainable development goals?: A case study

Kwee, C.T.T. & Dos Santos, L.M. (2022) How can blended learning English-as-a-second-language courses incorporate with cultural heritage, building, and sense of sustainable development goals?: A case study. Front. Ed., 7:966803

This article describes a small-scale case study of a group of forty international students enrolled in three blended ESL programs in a community college in the United States which incorporated elements of digitized cultural heritage and heritage buildings in the course curriculum. Using a range of digital tools including video and virtual tours, students had the opportunity to learn about local and national history and heritage buildings as a component of their language learning.

Following the course, data was collected using one-on-one semi-structured interviews and focus groups. This data indicated that students experienced high levels of language learning engagement and motivation due to their high level of interest in the cultural and heritage content. Students also reported a significant increase in cultural awareness and an understanding of local history and sense of place.

Although the context of this study is a course for international students in the U.S., the description of incorporation of  digitized local and national cultural heritage and buildings and the responses of students provide useful insights that will be of interest to language instructors and curriculum developers working with newcomers to Canada.

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Teaching in Covid-19 Times: Challenges, innovations, solutions, and opportunities

Cummings,J., Sturm,M., Lawrence,G., Avram, A. & McBride, R. (2021).
Teaching in Covid-19 Times: Challenges, innovations, solutions, and opportunities. TESL Contact, 47,1(2021):21-35

This article from TESL Ontario’s Contact Magazine discusses the issues language teachers have faced globally and in Canada because of school closures and lockdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Rather than presenting only challenges, the authors report on innovations, solutions and opportunities that have arisen during this time. A case study of a LINC (Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada) educator showcases their principled approach to enhance student engagement in an online environment. The article ends with recommendations to leverage the benefits of teaching and learning online, including effective technology-mediated teacher education.

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The What, Why, Who and How of Blended Learning for Adult Basic Skills Learners

Rosen, D., Vanek, J. The What, Why, Who and How of Blended Learning for Adult Basic Skills Learners. New York, New Readers Press, 2020.

This publication offers a practical and Clear Language guide to the implementation of a Blended Learning model in adult education programs. The guide is addressed to educators, program coordinators and curriculum developers. The guide was developed in the United States where adult basic education programs include language programs for immigrants, e.g., ESL, ESOL and ELL.  There are specific examples for blended language learning throughout the guide.

This useful guide is divided into 9 sections: 

Introduction – a general description of the contents. 

What is blended learning? –  a definition and explanation of blended learning in the context of adult learning. 

Why use a blended learning approach? – a comprehensive discussion and explanation of the features and benefits of blended learning. 

Getting Started – a clear explanation of the issues to be considered when planning the implementation of a blended learning approach. 

What does blended learning look like – a set of case studies from a range of programs in the U.S., describing the experiences of instructors and learning in working with blended learning. 

What online resources work with blended learning? –  strategies to locate and use online resources in a blended learning environment. 

What are some common challenges in implementing blended learning? – a discussion, based on interactions with instructors and observation of blended learning in adult learning settings, of the challenges faced by instructors, coordinators and learners in implementing blended learning. 

Conclusion – a short summary of the contents of the guide. 

Appendices – lists of online resources for further reading and exploration. 

Retrievable from: https://www.newreaderspress.com/filebin/pdf/ProLiteracy_BlendedLearningGuide_2020-11.pdf

Becoming Blended: A case study in teacher identity

Renteria Navarro, Victoria. Becoming Blended: A case study in teacher identity. Plymouth St Mark and St John University. British Council ELT Master’s Dissertation Awards: Commendation. (2015-16).

This case study is set in an English Blended Program in Mexico. The author’s aim was to discover how a teacher’s educational and cultural background as well as their experience and knowledge play a role to promote or hinder agency, their capacity to critically shape their responses to problematic situations, such as those they would encounter teaching in a blended language learning program.

The study takes as a given that the internet and web applications have provided options and responsibilities that have seriously influenced teachers’ outlooks, encouraging them to change their practice. This will impact the institutions that provide professional development for teachers. One of the elements the author suggests will help to guide them is teacher identity.

The author provides evidence that experiences in one’s own educational past will have an impact on one’s approach to teaching, e.g., how to be successful teaching in a new blended language learning program with little technological support, how to cope with constantly changing technology, how to work with dependent students, whether to take on a formal or informal guise in the online component, etc.  The author also describes the teachers’ professional development and examines how it has helped each of them to evolve or change their preferred practices in the blended environment. The examples of each teacher’s Moodle pages provide further insight about this dynamic relationship.

Retrievable from: http://englishagenda.britishcouncil.org/sites/default/files/attachments/dissertation_for_publication_2016_st_mark_and_st_john_plymouth.pdf

English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Blended Learning Project Report

National Adult Literacy Agency.(2014). English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Blended Learning Project Report.

The report describes the findings from a research project carried out in Ireland in 2013 over a ten-week period with 41 learners. Learners in the ESOL program used a web site www.writeon.ie in conjunction with face to face classes. The study documents how they used this blended approach. The report provides a description of the two learning methods, a profile of the learners involved, and highlights the benefits to the various stakeholders of a blended approach for adult ESOL learners. The Write On site is open and accessible to users.

NALA acknowledges that there is not one agreed-upon definition of blended learning and sets out the one they have adopted: “Blended learning is about facilitating learning using a variety of approaches, best determined by the needs of the learner and the capability of the provider. It may or may not involve computers. It is simply a way of creatively matching different approaches to learners, content and contexts.”

Retrievable from: https://www.nala.ie/resources/english-speakers-other-languages-esol-blended-learning-project-report