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Researching language learning beyond the classroom

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  • 1. Researching language learning and teaching beyond the classroom Phil Benson Department of Linguistics Macquarie University
  • 2. How important is learning beyond classroom? • Think about a foreign language that you know well. • What percentage of your knowledge and ability would you attribute to – learning and using the language in class ___% – learning and using the language outside class ___%
  • 3. Why is language learning beyond the classroom important? • Deconstruction of traditional classroom instruction – self-access centres, distance learning, workplace learning, learning for practical purposes, etc. • Globalization and the shrinking world – media technologies and mobility; access to ‘authentic’ language (Kramsch 2014) • Learners often begin in the classroom and continue elsewhere • Pickard (1995) – learners attribute high levels of proficiency to learning beyond the classroom
  • 4. How much research is carried out in classrooms? Research articles on language teaching and learning published in MLJ 2013 Classroom-based = 30 Not classroom-based = 7 Total = 37
  • 5. Classroom research Second language classroom research investigates what happens in second language classrooms. van Lier, L. (1990: 174) …[a cover term for] a whole range of research studies on classroom language learning and teaching. The obvious unifying factor is that the emphasis is solidly on trying to understand what goes on in the classroom setting. Allwright, D. & Bailey, K. M. (1991: 2)
  • 6. Classroom-based studies of language teaching and learning processes 9 9 Measurement of language learning variables – participants enrolled in language programmes 21 23 Measurement of language learning variables – participants not enrolled in language programmes 2 Studies of language learning beyond the classroom 5 5
  • 7. Measurement studies • Focus on variables (e.g., strategy use, anxiety, language or discourse competencies); sometimes with experimental treatment • Participants are enrolled in language classes at the time of the research • Typically the researchers’ own class or a class in the researchers’ institution. • How does this influence findings?
  • 8. Studies of language learning beyond the classroom (MLJ 2014) Kääntä, et al. (2013) Finnish reality TV contestants talking about language and language learning Social interaction Back (2013) Symbolic competence of Spanish- Quichua bilingual musicians in Quichua community Language socialization Rampton (2013) Discourse of adult migrant language learner in UK Discursive stylization Trentman (2013) Use of Arabic in study abroad in Egypt (n=18) Language contact profile Moore and MacDonald (2013) Intergenerational language learning in a native Canadian community Literacy as social practice
  • 9. Spinning the ‘classroom norm’ around
  • 10. If language learning beyond the classroom were the norm… • What kind of models of language learning would we need? • Where would the classroom fit in? • Where would measurement studies fit in? • What kinds of research would fill our journals?
  • 11. A descriptive model Dimension Refers to Terms Location Where the learning takes place (setting) out-of-class <-> out-of- class Formality Degree of structure – role of qualifications informal <-> formal Pedagogy The senses in which teaching is involved non-instructed <-> instructed Locus of control Who makes the major decisions about learning self-directed <-> other- directed (Benson 2011)
  • 12. Other dimensions…? • Mediation – texts, materials, technologies, resources used • Modality – form-focused, reading-based, interactional, etc • Socialty – alone or with others (social networks – Palfreyman 2011) • Linguistic – what kinds of language are involved – creativity, complexity, etc. • Trajectory – development over time (Chik 2014)
  • 13. Where does the classroom fit in? • Any setting can be described in terms of formality, pedagogy, etc, etc • The classroom is one setting among many that are likely to be available as affordances for learning – Horizontally - within a spatial environment (e.g., a town or city, a school or university) – Vertically – within a temporal environment (e.g., for an individual over a period of years)
  • 14. Where would measurement studies fit in? • Two aptitude studies (MLJ 2013) • Schools and classrooms as affordances for measurement of variables • Variables in learning beyond the classroom
  • 15. Language aptitude studies Thompson (2013) 79 Brazilian language learners attending classes at a university-affiliated English language program – foreign language aptitude test (CANAL-FT) + interviews on language experience.
  • 16. Language aptitude studies Dahlen, K., and Caldwell-Harris, C. (2013) 88 students taking Psychology at Boston University (56 never mastered an L2; 25 early bilingual; 7 learned an L2 for everyday interaction) – aptitude test (MLAT) + initial vocab learning under 4 conditions + recognition and recall tests
  • 17. Language aptitude studies Thompson (2013) Previous language experience has an effect on aptitude – suggests that aptitude is ‘dynamic’. Dahlen, K., and Caldwell-Harris, C. (2013) Monolinguals scored higher than bilinguals on aptitude test Authors speculate that, “the MLAT measures cognitive abilities that help learn a FL in a classroom setting and thus may be most valid for monolingual Englishspeakers…” (910)
  • 18. Location and research findings • Location influences sample; composition of the sample influences findings • Inclusion of ‘out-of-class’ learners reveals instrument bias towards classroom learning • Context in which research is conducted also influences findings
  • 19. The importance of context “Time and time again when researchers conduct experiments, they find that children’s abilities differ from one experiment to another…. People often show dissociations in their behavior, seeming to know things when they are tested in one way, while seemingly unaware of the same information when they are tested in another way.” Larsen-Freeman and Cameron (2008: 131).
  • 20. Schools and classrooms • Measurement studies rely on samples >30 • Where do we easily find such samples? • MLJ – 21 studies of intact classes or year groups (one study of school district, 2 unenrolled samples) • Ou-of-class studies tend to be ethnographic, individual or collective case studies (though some are classroom-based!)
  • 21. Variables in learning beyond the classroom • Standard instruments designed for classroom implementation • Motivation, strategy use, anxiety, etc. tend to ‘present’ differently. • Specific variables – e.g., ‘persistence’ in use of broadcast materials (Umino 2005)
  • 22. What kinds of studies will we find in journals? • Fewer measurement studies / more qualitative, descriptive studies • Studies of learning in specific settings – Murray, Fujishima, Uzuku 2014 (space and place) – Gao 2007; 2009 • Horizontal, ‘ecological’ studies – Palfreyman 2014; Menezes, 2011 – Lamb, 2007; Lai 2014
  • 23. What kinds of studies will we find in journals? • Vertical, ‘narrative’ studies of language learning histories and experiences – Barkhuizen et al 2013 – Benson & Nunan 2005; Chik 2014 • Learning in interaction studies – Zimmermann 2011; Tudini 2007 • The roles of teachers and classroom teaching – Ryan 1997; Chern & Dooley 2014
  • 24. References • Back, M. (2013). “La Orquesta”: Symbolic Performance in a Multilingual Community of Practice. The Modern Language Journal, 97 (2), pp. 383-396. • Barkhuizen, G., Benson, P., and Chik, A. (2013) Narrative inquiry in language teaching and learning research. London: Routledge. • Benson, P. and Nunan, D. (Eds.), (2005). Learners’ stories: Difference and diversity in language learning. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. • Benson, P. and Reinders, H. (Eds.). (2011). Beyond the language classroom. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. • Chern, C-L., and Dooley, K. (2014). Learning English by walking down the street. ELT Journal, 68 (2), 113-123. • Chik, A. (2014). Digital gaming and language learning: Autonomy and community. Language Learning and Techonology, 18 (2), 85-100. • Dahlen, K., and Caldwell-Harris, C. (2013). The Modern Language Journal, 97 (4), pp. 902- 916. • Gao, X. (2007). A tale of Blue Rain Café: A study on the online narrative construction about a community of English learners on the Chinese mainland. System, 35(2), 259-270. • Gao, X. (2009). ‘English corner’ as an out-of-class learning activity. English Language Teaching Journal, 63(1), 60-67.
  • 25. References • Gao, X. (2010). Autonomous language learning against all odds. System, 38, 580-590. • Kääntä, L., et al. (2013). Learning English Through Social Interaction: The Case of Big Brother 2006, Finland. The Modern Language Journal, 97 (2), pp. 340-349. • Kramsch, C. (2014). Teaching foreign languages in an era of globalization: An introduction. The Modern Language Journal, 98 (1), 296-311. • Lai, C. (2014). Perceiving and traversing in-class and out-of-class learning: accounts from foreign language learners in Hong Kong. Innovation in Language Learning and Teaching, • Lamb, M. (2004). “It depends on the students themselves”: Independent language learning at an Indonesian state school. Language, Culture and Curriculum, 17(3), 229-245. • Larsen-Freeman, D., and Cameron, L. (2008). Complex systems and applied linguistics. Oxford: Oxford University Press. • Menezes, V. (2011). Affordances for language learning beyond the classroom. In P. Benson and H. Reinders (Eds.), Beyond the language classroom (pp. 59-71). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. • Moore, D., and MacDonald, M. (2013). Language and Literacy Development in a Canadian Native Community: Halq’émylem Revitalization in a Stó:lō Head Start Program in British Columbia. The Modern Language Journal, 97 (3), pp. 702-719.
  • 26. References • Murray, G. (Ed.) (2014). Social Dimensions of Autonomy in Language Learning. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. • Murray, G., Fujishima, N., and Uzuku, M. (2014). The semiotics of place: Autonomy and space. In G. Murray (Ed.), Social Dimensions of Autonomy in Language Learning (pp. 81-99). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. • Palfreyman, D. M. (2011). Family, friends, and learning beyond the classroom: Social networks and social capital in language learning. In P. Benson and H. Reinders (Eds.), Beyond the language classroom (pp. 17-34). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. • Palfreyman, D. M. (2014). The ecology of learner autonomy. In G. Murray (Ed.), Social Dimensions of Autonomy in Language Learning (pp. 175-192). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. • Pickard, N. (1995). Out-of-class language learning strategies: Three case studies. Language Learning Journal, 12, 35-37. • Rampton, B. (2013). Styling in a Language Learned Later in Life. The Modern Language Journal, 97 (2), pp. 361-382. • Ryan, S. (1997). Preparing learners for independence: Resources beyond the classroom. In P. Benson and P. Voller (Eds.), Autonomy and independence in language learning (pp. 215-224). London: Longman.
  • 27. References • Thompson, A. S. (2013). The Interface of Language Aptitude and Multilingualism: Reconsidering the Bilingual/Multilingual Dichotomy. The Modern Language Journal, 97 (3), pp. 685-701. • Trentman, E. (2013). Arabic and English During Study Abroad in Cairo, Egypt: Issues of Access and Use. The Modern Language Journal, 97 (2), pp. 457-473. • Tudini, V. (2007). Negotiation and intercultural learning in Italian native speaker chat rooms. The Modern Language Journal, 91 (4), 577-61. • Umino, T. (2005). Learning a second language with broadcast materials at home: Japanese students’ long-term experiences. In P. Benson and D. Nunan (Eds.), Learners’ stories: Difference and diversity in language learning (pp. 134-149). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. • van Lier, L. (1990). Classroom research in second language acquisition. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 10, 173-186. • Zimmerman, E. (2011). Talk about language use: ‘I know a little about your language’. In P. Benson and H. Reinders (Eds.), Beyond the language classroom (pp. 88-105). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.