Posted on August 24, 2016 by JimS
By Lynn Zimmerman
Editor, Teacher Education
Second language acquisition as a body of research looks at various aspects of learning and teaching languages other than one’s native language. Most people probably think of this as foreign language teaching and learning. Because of the complexity of language learning and teaching, this field of research covers a wide range of issues from the order in which learners acquire grammar and vocabulary in the language they are studying to what the most effective teaching methods and strategies are. As learners and teachers alike seek more effective and efficient ways to teach and learn languages, technology use has grown.
Perhaps technology use for language learning began back when people used record players to listen to and repeat what was on a record. In the 21st century, the opportunities for using technology has grown enormously, ranging from podcasts you can download to interactive activities on the Internet where you can practice all aspects of a language. These activities range from short texts to read and answer questions about to full-length courses taught over the web. With mobile technology, learning apps enable the learner to study anywhere, anytime. Each of these types of technology-assisted language learning comes with its own strengths and challenges for the learner and the developer.
In his blogpost, “How could SLA research inform EdTech?,” Scott Thornby suggests that the developer or user needs to ask some questions based on second language research about how an application may fit into the language learning process to determine its effectiveness for learners’ specific needs. He lays out what he calls 10 “observations” from second language research. Then he formulated questions, related to each observation, which ask how technology can enhance language learning. His questions focus on how adaptive the software is to different types of learners and to an individual learner’s history as well as how it addresses the complexity of the language. Thornby also suggests asking how well it gives opportunities for meaningful input and output as well as how well it provides feedback.
However, in the long run, I think the most important question he poses is “Is the software sufficiently engaging/motivating to increase the likelihood of sustained and repeated use?” After all, no matter how good it is from a pedagogical standpoint, if the software doesn’t engage the learners, it will gather dust on the virtual “shelf” as surely as those records from days past have gathered dust on people’s bookshelves.
Filed under: Apps, Course Design, Ed Tech, ESOL, Instructional Technology, Language Learning | 1 Comment »
Posted on December 30, 2015 by JimS
NY program uses phone calls, text messages to teach English by Deepti Hajela, Associated Press, 30 Nov. 2015.
Using basic phone technology, New York state has created lessons for English language learners that are flexible and free.
Tablet use can benefit bilingual preschoolers by Elin Bäckström at Phys.org, 10 Nov. 2015.
The author reports on the result of a study done in Sweden that shows the value of tablets as teaching tools for preschoolers whose first language is not Swedish.
Spain considers ban on dubbing in bid to boost English language skills in The Local, 4 Dec. 2015.
Spain’s Popular Party wants to eliminate dubbing of TV shows and movies and retain original sound-tracks with subtitles in an effort to boost English language learning.
Filed under: Instructional Media, Instructional Technology, International, Language Learning, Mobile Technology, Online Learning, Smartphone, Tablet, Trends & Issues, Uncategorized | 2 Comments »
Posted on July 13, 2015 by JimS
“Chat rooms can boost success in learning English as a foreign language research shows” from phys.org, 7 July 2015.
This article reviews a newly published book1 which focuses on a research project conducted in the UAE. Ten female students were tracked for one semester as they engaged in conversations with native speakers of English in a chat room setting. The researchers found that the students developed speaking, writing and vocabulary skills. They identified one cause as “the relatively risk-free context of real time but not face-to-face interaction” provided by the technology.
“Who needs words when you have an emoji?” by Finnian Curran in The Irish Times, 2 July 2015.
Curran asks: With clear evidence that more and more people are using the minuscule symbols, what does it mean for the future of the English language and should we be worried?
He cites several research studies and scholars who have examined the use of emojis, research which supports how they accompany language and also cultural differences in their usage. He also confirms that he sees no cause for worry.
“Effectively incorporating technology with English learners” by Erick Hermann in Multibriefs: Exclusive, 11 June 2015.
Hermann identifies issues that arise when schools and school districts make decisions about expenditures for technology for the upcoming school year and the impact technology has on English Language Learners (ELLs). He points out that while good practice should be behind all such choices and purchases, the specific needs of ELLs who require additional instructional supports, such as various visual aids and redundant information, must be addressed.
“Mobile app helps Chinese kids learn English” from Phys.org, 23 June 2015.
Many parents in China want their children to start learning English as early as possible. The ABCmouse English Language Learning app, designed for 3-8 year olds, was developed with very young language learners in mind.
1Rahma Al-Mahrooqi & Salah Troudi, eds., Using Technology in Foreign Language Teaching, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 10 Jan. 2014.
Filed under: Language Learning, Mobile Technology | 1 Comment »
Posted on June 27, 2015 by JimS
By Lynn Zimmerman
Editor, Teacher Education
Zanizibar, like a number of developing countries, sees English as one of the keys to increased economic development, in their case through tourism. However, sometimes the question has to be asked: At what cost? One group of high school students in Zanzibar turned to technology to answer that question.
In “Teens Make Film in Broken English to Explain Why They’ll Fail English,”1 Gregory Warner at NPR reported on Present Tense,2 a short film in which three high school students use digital storytelling to examine whether all classes, such as science, math, social studies, etc., should be taught only in English. The young filmmakers talk about the move from all-Swahili education in their primary school years to an all-English education often taught by teachers who have little competence in the language themselves. In their award-winning film, the young filmmakers argue that instead of giving them an edge with improved language skills, they are learning almost nothing at all, neither English nor the content they need.
It is not clear whether a change was made due to this film, but the government in Zanzibar has decided to change the all-English policy and return to using Swahili as “the language of instruction in government schools” and returning English to the status of a foreign language class.
1 25 June 2015.
2 The story on the NPR website also has a link to the film.
Filed under: ESOL, International, Language Learning, YouTube | 4 Comments »