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Looking to the Future of Technology-Mediated Language Teaching & Learning


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Plenary talk for the 2017 annual conference of the Irish Association for Applied Linguistics (IRAAL), at the University of Limerick.

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Looking to the Future of Technology-Mediated Language Teaching & Learning

  1. 1. Looking to the Future of Technology-Mediated Language Teaching & Learning Shannon Sauro Malmö University @shansauro l l
  2. 2. “For many diverse learners, the use of computer technology for all facets of second language learning has dramatically increased as the reach of the internet continues to spread, providing access to social media, reference materials, online instruction, and more. The implications for language teachers, learners, materials developers, and researchers are extensive.” (Chapelle & Sauro, 2017, p. 1)
  3. 3. “Before computers came along, we never referred to our tools as learning ‘assistants’ (early CALL as Chalk- Assisted Language Learning?)…. Doubtless in the future, our focus will return to our methods and goals, with less prominence given to the technologies that help us realize them.” (Otto, 2017 p. 21)
  4. 4. What language learners are served by technology & how? What technology-mediated tasks best serve learners’ needs? What linguistic and digital skills and knowledge do L2 learners need? How does technology mediate languagculture learning?
  5. 5. What language learners are served by technology and how?
  6. 6. “CALL began in the United States with several high-profile projects that pioneered the use of mainframe computers for language learning in the 1960s and early 1970s (1) The Programmed Logic for Teaching Operations (PLATO) project at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; (2) the tutorial Russian project at Stanford University; and (3) the Time-shared Interactive Computer Controlled Information Television (TICCIT) project at the University of Texas and Brigham Young University (BYU).” (Otto, 2017, p. 12)
  7. 7. “…deHaan (2005) followed a young adult L2 Japanese learner playing a sports game and documented how the learner-player manipulated the game in order to control and repeat the audio and visual input for learning purposes. ” (Reinhard, 2017, p. 206)
  8. 8. “The refugees were able to obtain relevant information through direct contact with other migrants in Europe (via WhatsApp , Viber , Skype or other VoIP services and over social media networks) as well as pages on Facebook and channels on YouTube that they considered trustworthy – if not always totally reliable. These sources satisfied many of their needs for information.” (MiCT, 2016, p. 5)
  9. 9. “In 2015, of the roughly 163,000 people who sought asylum in Sweden, over 35,000 were unaccompanied minors (Migrationsverket, 2016)…. Even after two years of [Swedish as a second language] instruction, many of these students continue to need additional language support in Swedish and in their other subject areas, including math, science, and English.” (Sauro, 2016, p. 5)
  10. 10. “The purpose of this study is to explore the use of the smartphone as a mediating tool for integration of newly arrived migrants. In particular, this study investigates how migrants learn foreign language pronunciation by means of mobile technology. The starting point is to examine the mobile activities that newly arrived migrants are engaged in when learning Swedish. ” (Bradley, Lindström & Hashemi, 2017, p. 2)
  11. 11. What linguistic and digital skills and knowledge do L2 learners need?
  12. 12. “Students nowadays constantly engage in reading and interacting often by using short, de-contextualized informal language that may distract them from focused thinking. One important challenge today for educators is then to find creative and effective ways to lead distracted readers back to productive language learning.” (Liaw & English, 2017, p. 70)
  13. 13. But consider Curwood’s (2013) case study of a 13-year-old fan named Jack, “whose fan involvement included participating in discussion-board-based debates about Thee Hunger Games, which required not only character analysis skills, but also the ability to use textual citations, including page numbers, to support his claims, much like one might find in academic writing.” (Sauro, 2017, p. 139)
  14. 14. An ongoing case study of Steevee, a Sherlock fan, which explores her informal L2 English language learning and digital literacy development in online fan spaces. (Sauro, 2017)
  15. 15. …it was the opportunity to completely immerse myself in the English language. That was it for me. I was so stoked. I’m going to get online and I’m going to talk to people and learn English. And I’m going to learn new words. And I used to sit there with a notepad next to Twitter and write down words I’d never seen before, look them up, learn them. (Interview, 14 December 2015) Art: Foxestacado
  16. 16. Spoiling is “…the purposeful discovery of crucial developments in the plot of a fictional story of a film or TV series before the relevant material has been broadcast or released.” (Duffett, 2013, p. 168)
  17. 17. Due to the massive increase of hits and followers due to setlock, I somehow became someone who was consulted on various things and I realized that if I wanted to help/give answers etc, I’d have to make myself understood in the way I wanted to be – that’s when my answers got longer and more in-depth, as I wanted to make sure my arse was covered XD (Email, 7 January 2016) Art: Foxestacado
  18. 18. “Many young people today consider what exists on the Internet freely available raw material to be used however they see fit. Moreover, tools for copying and modifying this raw material are simple and abundant. What is distinctive about the digital environment is not borrowing per say … but rather the sense that borrowing does not require an acknowledgement.” (Chun, Kern & Smith, 2016, p. 69)
  19. 19. I had no idea what Tumblr was about until I got yelled at… And from then on I knew, you give credit. You reblog. You can tag some things. So somebody took me by the hand, and I’ve taken hundreds of people by the hand over the years, letting them into the fandom on Tumblr, so to speak. Don’t steal anybody’s art. (Interview with Steevee, 14 December 2015)
  20. 20. Twenty-first century skills include critical thinking, information literacy, global citizenship. (Suto, 2013)
  21. 21. “In light of the ease of spreading unverified rumors and false information via fan networks on Twitter and Tumblr, Steevee’s fact-checking skills were particularly crucial... Her newly developed critical information literacy skills have also proven useful for Steevee in her non-fandom online interaction, as indicated in her ability to better evaluate the veracity of information in news articles she encounters on Facebook.” (Sauro, 2017, p. 140)
  22. 22. What technology- mediated tasks best serve learners’ needs?
  23. 23. Consider a task for research: “The two tasks used in this study were picture-based narrative tasks that incorporated screen-shots taken from episodes of the British television series Mr. Bean. The picture narrative tasks were modeled on those used in prior SLA studies examining L2 performance under different planning time conditions…” (Sauro, 2012, p. 340)
  24. 24. “technology-mediated tasks should primarily focus on meaning, rather than on grammatical forms. They should be learner-centered, considering students’ needs and wants for language, their technological applications, and digital skills. They should also be holistic and authentic, drawing on real-world processes of language use. And finally, tasks should bring reflection to the learning process…” (González-Lloret, 2017, p. 236)
  25. 25. The Blogging Hobbit: A collaborative story of a missing moment from The Hobbit: • Story outline and map • Collaborative blog- based roleplay fanfiction - each group member to write from the perspective of one character from the novel • Reflective paper (Sauro & Sundmark, 2016)
  26. 26. “this writing activity has influenced my language skills…. During this project I have been able to expand my repertoar [sic] of English words which are not so commonly used in everyday English anymore.” (Sauro & Sundmark, 2016, p. 420 )
  27. 27. “For some students, unfamiliarity with publishing in blogs affected the potential readability of their published stories; however, other students were able to take advantage of blogs' various characteristics such as sequential comments to a blog post, a linked list of chapters in the header bar, or embedding of multimedia to illustrate songs written as part of the fanfiction.” (Sauro & Sundmark, in press)
  28. 28. How does technology mediate languaculture learning?
  29. 29. “The langua in languaculture is about discourse, not just about words and sentences. And the culture in languaculture is about meanings that include, but go well beyond, what the dictionary and the grammar offer.” (Agar, 1994, p. 96)
  30. 30. The psychological concept of affordances “include[s] not only the possibilities and constrains of environments or tools (including digital technologies and new media) but also users’ perceptions of these technologies’ possibilities and constraints based on their own prior knowledge and experience (Lee, 2007)”. (Sauro & Chapelle, 2017, p. 469)
  31. 31. "Our story is so much better looking. Yeah, because when you have like this blog post, it comes, like the first is at the bottom and then you have to read up. And that was like really annoying when I looked at the other groups. Because I read most of the other groups, but shut some of them down after like, okay, now I can't handle this anymore. Exit. Exit. No." (Sauro & Sundmark, in press)
  32. 32. “Webcams mediate gestures as well. Our in-lab videos show that gestures are used extensively during videoconferencing exchanges, but when these occur outside the webcam’s field of view they are invisible to online partners. Gestures can be helpful to students not only in monitoring meanings but also in managing turns of speaking…” (Kern, 2014, p. 346)
  33. 33. “the future of L2 teaching and learning with technology …asks the field to explore diverse learner populations whose familiarity with digital technologies and specific langua‐technoculture needs are different from those we regularly investigated, that the langua‐technoculture learning tasks and assessments designed for these populations also account for the skills and knowledge required of these 21st‐century language learners and users, and that investigations of digital tools consider the actual and perceived affordances of these populations.” (Sauro & Chapelle, 2017, p. 470)
  34. 34. Acknowledgements Fanart Graphics Fox Estacado of The Art of Fox Estacado: Fine Fan Art and Geekery ( All rights reserved and used in this presentation with permission.