Moonyoung Park, & Tammy Slater. (2014). A Typology of Tasks for Mobile-Assisted Language Learning: Recommendations from a Small-Scale Needs Analysis. TESL Canada Journal, 31(Special Issue 8).
This study explored how college-level ESL students are currently using their mobile devices for language learning and the attitudes and opinions of their instructors in relation to Mobile-Assisted Language Learning (MALL). The study included semi-structured interviews with students and instructors, an online survey and a task-based needs analysis focused on what learners and instructors want and need in relation to mobile-assisted language learning. Based on this research a set of language tasks in the areas of listening, speaking, reading and writing were identified. The researchers created a MALL-based task typology to support the future development of pedagogic tasks for academic ESL courses and to support the development of MALL-based curricula and lesson plans. The study found that while ESL learners are using mobile devices for a variety of learning and personal purposes, including communications and as reference tools, instructors need ongoing professional development to support them in realizing the potential of mobile devices in language teaching and to effectively incorporate mobile device use in task development for academic ESL courses.
Geoff Lawrence. (2014, May). A Call for the human feel in today’s increasingly blended world. Contact Magazine Special Research Symposium Issue, 40(2), 128–141.
The author presents research on the reported benefits of using Technology-mediated language learning for both instructors and learners, as well as the importance of instructional design on meeting learner outcomes. He then examines the potential for adult non-credit ESL programs in Ontario from results of a multi-phased feasibility study. The findings indicate that the majority of ESL instructors continue to use primarily a face- to-face approach in their teaching. After describing the barriers to use, he also discusses an emerging theme: the crucial role of social interaction and the need for teacher-mediated learning. This was described by one participant as keeping “the human feel” in the learning environment and emphasized the importance of the teacher in the learning process. Some instructors warned about the isolating nature of self-directed technology environments. In the section “The Blended Solution”, the author lists some of the advantages to this approach identified by study participants. He also notes that by itself, a blended approach will not address concerns about isolation; this depends on both the pedagogy and the instructor. Lawrence goes on to highlight the need for strategic, interactive program design.
Retrievable from: http://www.teslontario.net/uploads/publications/researchsymposium/ResearchSymposium2014.pdf
Christopher P. Johnson, D. M. (2014). Blended Language Learning: An Effective Solution but not Without Its Challenges. Higher Learning Research Communications, 4(3), 23–41.
This study explores conclusions from its first phase and identifies effective and appropriate best practice blended learning models. The study reflects changes in demands on and attitudes of students and teachers resulting from the introduction of technology into instructional styles, methodologies, and approaches. Some of the teachers in the study have become confident that the technology is not meant to replace them in the classroom and have begun to see it as a support for them. There is an emphasis on making the best use of classroom time, rather than trying to teach all requirements of courses in the classroom. The study also looks at the personal capacity required for students to take on a more autonomous role in a blended environment and discusses the importance of motivation, confidence and active participation. The authors state that the time and effort that university students spend gaining skills in EFL have critical impact on their success in learning the language. The same seems to be true for adult immigrants in settlement language programs.
This brief fact sheet from 2002 noted how and where technology was beginning to be included in adult ESL programs. Although the examples are modest, the challenges described are still familiar, e.g., the cost of acquiring hardware and software and supporting technology use, matching applications to instructional needs and goals, over-enthusiasm with applications that may not pay back the investment and access to computers and the Internet. The list of best practices includes the need for training for practitioners both in instructional approaches and uses of “hardware”. This last need is addressed in the recently revised TESOL Technology Standards (2011) with the hope that programs that train teachers will recognize that they have an obligation to prepare teacher candidates adequately in technology proficiency for their field and that technology proficiency will be given a high priority in new staff in teacher education programs.
Retrievable From: http://www.cal.org/caela/esl_resources/collections/factsheets.html#tech
Gruba, P., Cameron, C., Ng, K. & Wells, M. (2009). Blending technologies in ESL courses: A reflexive enquiry. Presented at the ascilite Conference, Auckland, NZ.
In this presentation from the 2009 ascilite Conference in Auckland NZ, a group of researchers describe their learning as a self-directed “community of innovation” after creating a series of podcasts as a springboard for an action research study to look at issues related to integrating technology in variety of types of ESL classes. The study highlights some of the barriers to integration that have been identified elsewhere: time, need for professional development and IT support.