Aila ReN 2011 - Bin Zou


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Presentation by Bin Zou at our symposium at AILA in Beijing for the Research Network on CALL and the Learner (

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Aila ReN 2011 - Bin Zou

  1. 1. Students’ perspectives of an English-Chinese language exchange programme on a Web 2.0 environment Dr Bin Zou English Language Centre Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University , China [email_address]
  2. 2. Introduction Web 2.0 environments (Blog, Wiki, Facebook, Twitter, Second Life, Ning, Glogster, Jing, Weebly, etc) have provided a range of opportunities for second language learners to develop their language skills with other learners from all of the world. Learners can use Wikis to develop writing skills in collaborative activities and help each other correct language errors ( Mak & Coniam, 2008; Arnold, Ducate, & Kost, 2009; Kessler, 2009; Liu & Lee, 2011 ). Researchers have also found that Web 2.0 tools can enhance collaborative language learning in language exchange programmes between two target second languages (Cloke & Absalom, 2007; Webb, 2009).
  3. 3. II. The study English-Chinese Language Exchange Programme Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, Suzhou, China University of Bristol, UK University of Manchester, UK Platform: China-UK Wikispaces Aim: To help students who are learning English in China and students who are learning Chinese in UK to improve their English and Chinese language learning Tasks: *Discuss interesting topics both in English and Chinese * Help each other correct language errors in their essays
  4. 4. <ul><li>Research questions: </li></ul><ul><li>In which ways do students use wiki to develop their English skills? </li></ul><ul><li>2. What are participants’ perspectives of using wiki in their English learning process? </li></ul><ul><li>Participants </li></ul><ul><li>Phase One: 10 students from the UK; 14 students from China </li></ul><ul><li>Phase Two: 30 students from the UK and 31 students from China </li></ul><ul><li>Research tools </li></ul><ul><li>Questionnaire </li></ul><ul><li>Interview </li></ul>
  5. 5. III. Findings (i) Phase One with the University of Bristol, UK The effect of one-child policy in China
  6. 6. <ul><li>In the questionnaire, the majority of students gave positive comments on working with UK students on Wiki. </li></ul><ul><li>Similarly, in the interview all 14 participants said that they enjoyed working on this wiki page to communicate with students in the UK. </li></ul><ul><li>86% of the students have used web 2.0 tools. </li></ul><ul><li>Online communication on the wiki provided them a good environment and opportunity to develop their English skills with others because they do not have such an environment to speak English with peers in China. </li></ul><ul><li>They liked to talk with students in the UK in this sort of collaborative activity to learn about their study and life. They were curious to discuss culture differences between the two countries. </li></ul>
  7. 7. <ul><li>When students were asked about their motivation in working on the Wikispaces, one student said: “ I...want to learn more about...British students, what they do during their daily life, how they think of China, that kind of thing.” </li></ul><ul><li>The findings above suggest that students have motivation in participating in the collaborative discussions on Wikis for several reasons. </li></ul><ul><li>However, modification did not occur quite often because students said they focused on communication rather than identifying mistakes. </li></ul>
  8. 8. (ii) Phase Two with the University of Manchester Communication between two partners after corrections
  9. 9. English language errors corrections
  10. 10. a. Comments on a variety of tasks In the interviews, 80% of participants thought the tasks on Wikis are effective for them to involve in the program. They liked various sorts of tasks which helped them learn a foreign language and culture from each other. Typically, S5 said: “I think it motivates us to participate because we can realise that how the English students learn the Chinese, like we learn another language. I think through this way some students do better than before in learning a new language.” S9 commented that she and her partner provided timely comments on each other’s essays and they got along well with each other.
  11. 11. <ul><li>In the questionnaire: </li></ul><ul><li>90% have posted their essays on Wikis and more than 76% have provided feedback to their partners. </li></ul><ul><li>70% of the students enjoyed one-to-one communication and thought assigned tasks by the teacher helped for efficient communication. </li></ul><ul><li>Students are more likely to comment on the English students’ work if they had uploaded their own work (p=0.013). The reason for this could be that the students would like feedback on their own work so they feel more obligated to comment the other students work. </li></ul>
  12. 12. <ul><li>b. Correcting language mistakes </li></ul><ul><li>All students in the interviews and questionnaire agreed that it is a good way for second language learners to help each other correct language errors in writing on Wikis. They thought they could improve their second language learning through communication and practice with native speakers on Wikis. </li></ul><ul><li>As S1 said: “Yeah. I think it is useful because as you know, they are native speakers and they can write some native English. So the comments from them may be very native and useful for us.” </li></ul><ul><li>In the questionnaire, 76% students valued corrected language errors from their partners on Wikis. </li></ul><ul><li>This result suggests that students believed their partners’ correction and feedback was very helpful for their writing and enhanced their formal English writing. They could learn from each other and help each other to improve writing skills. </li></ul>
  13. 13. c. The ways of correction <ul><li>4 students preferred to correct mistakes directly on Wiki page. </li></ul><ul><li>As S1 said, he preferred to correct mistakes directly on Wiki page because his comments would be seen by the public and he had to be more carefully to put his comments on Wiki. </li></ul><ul><li>However, the majority of interviewees preferred to upload corrections as word documents, which was convenient for them. Firstly, as S2 noted, was connected with privacy. </li></ul><ul><li>Secondly, some students pointed out that it was complicated to click back through the wiki history and see the corrections. They thought that it was clear to see and easy to keep word documents. </li></ul><ul><li>Thirdly, correcting mistakes on Wikis directly could cause problems when some students worked at the same time; they could lose their comments and had to do it again. </li></ul>
  14. 14. <ul><li>d. Preference between working on a specific task with your partner to correct language errors for each other and just discussion on any topic you like </li></ul><ul><li>Despite the various preferences of the two types of tasks, all students admitted that they were both important and could exist at the same time. Only one of the tasks was not sufficient. </li></ul><ul><li>These findings indicate that students were interested in discussing and communication with their partners on some topics. In the meantime, they liked correcting language mistakes by their partners because they might make some mistakes in using the second language. </li></ul>
  15. 15. <ul><li>e. Motivation </li></ul><ul><li>During the project, students accessed the wiki from once a week to several times a day, particularly when they had tasks to complete. </li></ul><ul><li>The majority of students in the interviews and questionnaire thought that the wiki is very interesting and they liked it very much. </li></ul><ul><li>For example, one student described her enjoyment on wiki as eating ice cream. As she stated: “You know, I like eating ice cream, so I think I like wiki the similar as ice cream” (S3). </li></ul><ul><li>All participants expressed their willingness and interest to continue. As S2 said, “Yes, I prefer to do that. Firstly, it’s a chance for you to use English and to improve your English; maybe writing or chatting with your foreign friends, and also I believe the friendship is important.” </li></ul><ul><li>This suggests that they have high motivation to work on China-UK Wikispaces to practise their English skills. </li></ul>
  16. 16. <ul><li>f. Making improvement </li></ul><ul><li>The majority of the participants addressed that they had improved their writing when they provided comments to their partners because they had to use English to write comments and explain their feedback to their partners clearly. </li></ul><ul><li>S2 said that he made improvements because he had to use various languages to write his comments. As he said: </li></ul><ul><li>“ Yes, I believe yes, because I have never write any comments before so I believe there is a clearly improvement in my comments, nearly seven or eight (comments) with 2 students…I have to change my format because you write several comments every time and you need different format.” </li></ul><ul><li>79% of respondents said that the comments on their essays from their partners in the UK are very helpful and they still use the recommended words in their writing. </li></ul><ul><li>S1: “Yeah, I think it’s useful because they are native speakers. They can make my essay more native.” </li></ul>
  17. 17. <ul><li>In the questionnaire, 76% perceived that they had improved their vocabulary. 94% thought that they had improved their writing skills. </li></ul><ul><li>a correlation can be seen between students improving their vocabulary and students improving their writing skills (p=0.013) . </li></ul><ul><li>So it can be said that improved vocabulary can lead to improved writing skills. This may be because as students’ vocabularies increase they become more familiar with the language and are able to express their viewpoints more clearly. </li></ul>
  18. 18. <ul><li>Regarding how much progress students have made during the program, six students thought they made significant progress in their writing, e.g. they got higher marks in their essays than before with feedback on their writing from partners. </li></ul><ul><li>S3 said that the feedback on his essay from his partner was very useful, particularly in sentence structure. It was also a way to practise writing skill when he gave comments to his partner. </li></ul><ul><li>They also developed their writing skills when they provided feedback to their partners’ Chinese writing because they commented in English. </li></ul><ul><li>It indicates that students perceived that they had improved their writing skills through working on this Wiki project. </li></ul>
  19. 19. <ul><li>IV . Conclusion </li></ul><ul><li>Wiki can provide collaborative learning opportunity and a social networking site between students in China and the UK to develop their language learning through communication. </li></ul><ul><li>Designed tasks by teachers can enhance and facilitate the interaction between native speakers and learners. </li></ul><ul><li>Students have high motivation to contribute to the various tasks and share their interests on Wikis with their partners from the two UK universities with following reasons: </li></ul><ul><li>good opportunity to develop English skills; practical needs, making friends, learning different cultures; high interest and making improvement in their English writing skills. </li></ul><ul><li>The function of modification on wiki was not effective in the discussion in Phase 1, but was positive in correcting language errors tasks in Phase 2, and more students liked to upload corrected word documents. </li></ul>
  20. 20. <ul><li>Recommendations </li></ul><ul><li>* Giving tasks for both students to complete; </li></ul><ul><li>*Finding similar interest topics for both groups of students </li></ul><ul><li>*Providing comments and feedback timely; </li></ul><ul><li>*Adding more photos to make Wikis more interesting; </li></ul><ul><li>*Both individual page for one-to-one communication and public area for free discussion with different people should be carried on at the same time </li></ul><ul><li>*Adding voice online programs for students to practise their speaking skills </li></ul><ul><li>Finally, as learners love to interact in this Web 2.0 environment, </li></ul><ul><li>Just do it! </li></ul>
  21. 21. <ul><li>Call for papers for a special issue of IJCALLT at AILA 2011: </li></ul><ul><li>International Journal of Computer-assisted language </li></ul><ul><li>learning and teaching (IJCALLT) </li></ul><ul><li>Guest editors for the special issue: </li></ul><ul><li>Professor Hsien-Chin Liou , [email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>Professor Yu-Chih Sun , [email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>Published quarterly by IGI Global, USA </li></ul><ul><li>Editor-in-chief: Dr Bin Zou </li></ul><ul><li>Contact : [email_address] </li></ul>