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JR Holmes MS Thesis Defense


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  • 1. Technology-Assisted Independent Study of English as a Second Language J. Raphael Holmes October 16, 2012Thesis Advisory Committee: Dr. Ross Perkins, Dr. Dazhi Yang, Dr. Arturo Rodriguez
  • 2. Presentation outline• Definitions• Research problem and purpose• Research questions and significance• CALL overview and background information• Gaps in research• Study design, instruments, and data analysis• Findings- who participated• Findings- answers to research questions• Implications• Recommendations
  • 3. Research in brief:Independent, in-service ESL learners were interviewed andsurveyed to learn about their use of CALL technology. Image from
  • 4. AcronymsCALL – Computer assisted language learning (umbrella term,includes CALI, TELL, MALL, CAPT)ESL – English as a second language (studied in an English-speaking country)EFL – English as a foreign language (studied in a non-English-speaking country)ICT – Information and communications technologyNLP – Natural language processing
  • 5. DefinitionsIndependent learner – A learner who is not enrolled in aformal class or taking private lessonsIn-service learner – A learner who is using English on adaily basis, for professional, educational, or personal reasonsLearner autonomy – A learner’s ability to take charge of hisor her own learning (Holec, 1981), encompassing initiative,persistence, and resourcefulness (Macaskill & Taylor, 2010)
  • 6. Research problemIndependent, in-service ESL learners- insufficient returns oneffort, particularly acute with modern ICT developments.“The web for language learning remains an interconnected quagmire ofunorganized opportunities” (Howard, 2010, p. 196).“[Tertiary EFL students] reported limited knowledge of how varioustechnologies could be used for language learning” (Lai & Gu, 2011, p. 324).“…students tend not to have adequate access to or literacy in usingspecialized tools that are often necessary for CALL” (Winke & Goertler,2008, p. 482).
  • 7. Purpose of the study• to explore the use of CALL technology by these learners• to examine what technologies they use and what aspects of independent language learning are aided by technology• to examine the relationship between CALL technology use and learner autonomy
  • 8. Research questions (in brief)1. What do they use?2. What do they use it for?3. How does this relate to learner autonomy?
  • 9. Research questions1. What technologies do adult, independent, in-service learners use to engage in English language study?2. Out of seven key components of language learning in general a and four that are specific to independent language learningb, which are facilitated by these learners’ uses of technology?3. What is the relationship between the nature of these learners’ uses of technology and their levels of learner autonomy?a Reading, writing, listening, speaking, grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciationb Motivation, management, reflection, and feedback
  • 10. Who cares?• Independent language learners• Language education, independent learning, & CALL researchers.• Creators of CALL technology• Classroom instructors
  • 11. Multiple ways to organize CALL• A series of historical phases or approaches• A collection of language learning technologies• Essential components of language learning being provided by technology
  • 12. Historical phases / approaches• Historical phases (Warschauer, 1996) • behaviorist • communicative • integrative• Approaches: (Bax, 2003) • restricted • open • integrated• Final phase and approach both imply normalization. Image from
  • 13. What does CALL look like?(This connects to RQ1, how CALL manifests itself for participants.)• Media• Communication technology• Software• Internet resources/tools/environments• Old or new• Maybe specific to language learners, maybe not
  • 14. Components of language learning(These form the basis of RQ2, what CALL is used for.)• Reading, writing, listening, speaking- universally agreed upon• Grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation- also broad consensus on these secondary components (e.g. Lasagabaster & Sierra, 2003; Levy & Hubbard, 2005)
  • 15. Components of independent learning(These form the basis of RQ2.)• Motivation- “fuel” driving learning endeavors (Garrison, 1997). Close ties to language learning (Ushioda, 2011) and technology use (Ringstaff & Kelley, 2009).• Management- selection of objectives, materials, activities (Garrison, 1997; Pilling-Cormick, 1997; Chan et al., 2002).• Reflection- metacognition, metalinguistic awareness (Schwienhorst, 2008; Garrison, 1997; Pilling-Cormick, 1997; Tarvin & Al-Arishi, 1991).• Feedback- from technology or facilitated by technology (Nagata, 1993; Pilling-Cormick, 1997; Alm, 2006)
  • 16. More on learner autonomy(This is the subject of RQ3, measured with an instrument.)• As with other similar terms (e.g. self-directed learning, self- access learning, andragogy) can describe a behavior, a perspective, or an ability• Thought to contribute to independent learning success (Ponton & Carr, 2000; Benson, 2007)• Frequently studied in the context of classroom instruction• Special relationship with language learning
  • 17. Gaps in research- what’s missing? Image from
  • 18. Gaps in research- what’s missing?• Research on non-undergraduate learners• Research on independent learning• Studies with broad focus, rather than one or two aspects of language learning• Studies addressing affective components (e.g. motivation)• Studies addressing pronunciation• Research connecting theoretically generalized learner autonomy and actual attitudes/behaviors• Longitudinal studies• Research on non-adult learners• Research on languages other than English(Zhao, 2003; Gan, 2004; Hurd, 2008; Validvia et al., 2011; Tanner & London, 2009)
  • 19. Research design• Semi-structured interview (10 participants)• Electronic questionnaire (112 general participants, 40 specific to independent language learning website,• Mixed interview and survey design allowed for • triangulation • deeper interpretation of questionnaire results • revision of questionnaire
  • 20. Brief overview of instruments• Interview: 30 minutes, 28 questions in five categories: • background info • English studying • technology • independence • two hypotheticals• Questionnaire: 10 minutes, four sections: • demographic info • brief ESL self-assessment • technology use questions • learner autonomy instrument
  • 21. Data analysis• Interview- transcripts coded, then codes merged into six themes• Questionnaire- Descriptive statistics for means and variances• Questionnaire- Learner autonomy scores checked for correlation with other responses, looking for Pearson’s correlation coefficients > 0.3
  • 22. Findings- who participated?• Interview • six native languages • narrow age range • mostly professional/technical occupations • all participants feeling that English was important to their professional goals• Questionnaire • 37 native languages • broad age range • spread of primary reasons for studying English • some differences between two sample groups
  • 23. Findings- 3 interview themes• Linguistic isolation Nobody corrects me. And I don’t have many chances to speak. If there are no American friends, I cannot expand my vocabulary.• Motivating factors Sometimes Americans laugh a lot, and I want to understand why they laugh. …I cannot express my opinion, or what I was thinking. That’s the big motivation.• Continuous learning If I’m not sleeping, I think I’m learning English. …I feel [studying is] something natural… I wouldn’t explicitly sit down to it.
  • 24. Findings- continuous learning
  • 25. Findings- research question 1• What CALL technologies do they use? • Media • Communication tools • Reference tools• What don’t they use? • Language learning software • Language learning websites
  • 26. Findings- research question 2• What do they use CALL technologies for? • Reading • Listening • Vocabulary • Feedback*• What don’t they use CALL for? • Speaking • Learning management • Feedback*
  • 27. Findings- research question 3Is there a relationship between their use of CALLtechnology and their learner autonomy?• Yes. Learner autonomy scores were correlated with • mobile/smart phone use* • use of spell check/grammar check • use of automatic translation • use of technology for grammar, reflection*, management*The *’s denote correlations with p ≤ 0.01. Even with a largenumber of correlations checked, this is highly unlikely to occur bychance alone. All correlations were positive, as expected.
  • 28. Findings- research question 3Is there a relationship between their use of CALLtechnology and their learner autonomy?• No. • Most tools and attitudes show no correlation with learner autonomy • No overlap in correlations between two survey samples • Interview data contradict the potential for a relationshipThe study doesn’t provide a compelling answer to this question,but the findings raise interesting additional questions.
  • 29. Implications• CALL developments may not reach these learners• Some CALL tools may match these learners’ “study” habits better than others• Sophisticated NLP tools may impact both these issues Image from Edge et al., 2011
  • 30. Recommendations• Find out more about these learners with more rigorous data collection.• Consider how CALL is serving these learners.• Explore relationship between CALL and learner autonomy further. Address specific practices.• Explore the degree to which generalizable learner autonomy applies to advanced language learning.
  • 31. ReferencesAlm, A. (2006). CALL for autonomy, competence and relatedness: Motivating language learning environments in Web 2.0. The JALT CALL Journal, 2(3), 29-38.Bax, S. (2003). CALL–past, present and future. System, 31(1), 13-28.Benson, P. (2007). Autonomy in language teaching and learning. Language Teaching, 40, 21-40. doi:10.1017/S0261444806003958Chan, V., Spratt, M., & Humphreys, G. (2002). Autonomous language learning: Hong Kong tertiary students’ attitudes and behaviours. Evaluation & Research in Education, 16(1), 1-18.Edge, D., Searle, E., Chiu, K., Zhao, J., & Landay, J. A. (2011). MicroMandarin: Mobile language learning in context. Proceedings of the 2011 annual conference on Human factors in computing systems (pp. 3169–3178). Vancouver, CA. Retrieved from, Z. (2004). Attitudes and strategies as predictors of self-directed language learning in an EFL context. International Journal of Applied Linguistics, 14(3), 389-411. doi:10.1111/j.1473-4192.2004.00071.xGarrison, D. R. (1997). Self-directed learning: Toward a comprehensive model. Adult Education Quarterly, 48(1), 18-33. doi:10.1177/074171369704800103Holec, H. (1981). Autonomy and foreign language learning. Oxford: Pergamon.Howard, C. D. (2011). Web 2.0 sites for collaborative self-access: The learning advisor vs. Google®. Studies in Self- Access Learning Journal, 2(3), 159-211.Hurd, S. (2008). Affect and strategy use in independent language learning. In: S. Hurd & T. Lewis (Eds.), Language learning strategies in independent settings (pp. 218-236). Bristol, UK: Multilingual Matters, pp. 218–236. Retrieved from http://
  • 32. References (cont’d)Lai, C., & Gu, M. (2011). Self-regulated out-of-class language learning with technology. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 24(4), 317-335. doi:10.1080/09588221.2011.568417Lasagabaster, D., & Sierra, J. M. (2003). Students’ evaluation of CALL software programs. Educational Media International, 40(3-4), 293-304. doi:10.1080/0952398032000113211Levy, M., & Hubbard, P. (2005). Why call CALL “CALL”? Computer Assisted Language Learning, 18(3), 143-149. doi:10.1080/09588220500208884Nagata, N. (1993). Intelligent computer feedback for second language instruction. Modern Language Journal, 77(3), 330- 339.Pilling-Cormick, J. (1997). Transformative and self-directed learning in practice. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, 74, 69-77.Ponton, M.K., & Carr, P.B. (2000). Understanding and promoting autonomy in self-directed learning. Current Research in Social Psychology, 5(19), 271-284.Ringstaff, C., & Kelley, L. (2002). The learning return on our educational technology investment: A review of findings from research. Washington, DC: Office of Educational Research and Improvement.Schwienhorst, K. (2008). Learner autonomy and CALL environments. Routledge studies in computer assisted language learning. New York: Routledge.Stockwell, G. (2007). Vocabulary on the move: Investigating an intelligent mobile phone-based vocabulary tutor. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 20(4), 365-383. doi:10.1080/09588220701745817Tanner, M. W., & Landon, M. M. (2009). The effects of computer-assisted pronunciation readings on ESL learners’ use of pausing, stress, intonation, and overall comprehensibility. Language Learning & Technology, 13(3), 51-65.
  • 33. References (cont’d)Tarvin, W. L., & Al-Arishi, A. Y. (1991). Rethinking communicative language-teaching: Reflection and the EFL classroom. TESOL Quarterly, 25(1), 9-27.Ushioda, E. (2011). Language learning motivation, self and identity: Current theoretical perspectives. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 24(3), 199-210. doi:10.1080/09588221.2010.538701Valdivia, S., McLoughlin, D., & Mynard, J. (2011). The importance of affective factors in self-access language learning courses. Studies in Self-Access Learning Journal, 2(2), 91-96.Warschauer M. (1996). Computer assisted language learning: An introduction. In S. Fotos (ed.), Multimedia language teaching (pp. 43-62). Tokyo: Logos International. Retrieved from, P., & Goertler, S. (2008). Did we forget someone? Students’ computer access and literacy for CALL. CALICO Journal, 25(3), 482–509.Zhao, Y. (2003). Recent developments in technology and language learning: A literature review and meta-analysis. Calico Journal, 21(1), 7-28.