Technology in Foreign language Learning


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Technology in Foreign language Learning

  1. 1. Eduardo De Jesus Hernandez HerreraEd 633 Research and WritingDecember 3, 2012,
  2. 2. Introduction Technology helps students acquire knowledge and fluency in a foreign language whenweb 2.0 tools are used in a collaborative learning environment, promoting learning autonomy andsocialization through blogs, wikis and online discussions. (Pellet, 2012) Students may rely ontechnology in order to review phonetics that are unique to a foreign language. One of the mainadvantages of using videos, audio, multimedia and mobile based technology when learning aforeign language is having the opportunity to play and repeat phonetics as many times as neededin order to master pronunciation and listening comprehension. Furthermore, when providedappropriate software, students have the opportunity to record their own voice and compare theirpronunciation and fluency with that provided by language teachers. Even though technology helps with ear training and fluency in a foreign language, socialinteraction is also necessary in order to provide opportunities to practice verbal communication.Therefore, integrating technology in a foreign language curriculum, along with social interactionsthat occur in existing face-to-face foreign language classrooms, may be one of the best resourcesfor foreign language students and teachers. The US Department of Education in the Learning: Engage and Empower (2011)acknowledges that technology plays a huge role in the life of the population. An average 18 yearold spends an average of 7.3 hours a day using technology. Therefore, the US Department ofEducation recommends the education system be adjusted to leverage technology to createmeaningful learning environments that mirror people’s daily lives in the digital age. (Learning:Engage and Empower, 2011) This literature review provides summaries of findings in whichforeign language specialists advise to incorporate technology because it helps foreign languagelearners acquire fluency and improve not only their pronunciation but their listeningcomprehension as well. The focus of this literature review is to: 1) identify possible effects oftechnology, both negative and positive of technology when learning a foreign language learning2) review teaching strategies that should be incorporated when technology is used in foreign
  3. 3. language learning and 3) discuss the benefits and challenges of using technology in education. Review of the Research In the past ten years enrollment in online classes has increased dramatically due toadvancements in technology, as well as financial restrictions of working adults returning tocollege and spatial reasons in college campuses (Kellogg, S., Oliver, K., & Patel, R. 2012) and(Karabulut, A., LeVelle, K., Li, J., & Suvorov, R. 2012). Identifying the positive outcomes andfindings of different online learning studies across the world in order create awareness of whichteaching strategies need to be implemented and reinforced can help online teaching be moreefficient in helping students succeed. On the other hand, identifying negative aspects can also bean opportunity for teachers and students in order to help them achieve academic success. Theliterature reviews included in this study bring up four different topics that need to be taken intoaccount when taking and teaching an online class: a) Socialization through Technology inForeign Language Learning, b) Ear Training, Comprehension and Pronunciation WithTechnology, c) Knowledge of Technology when Learning a Foreign Language and d)Integrating Emerging Technologies in the Classroom. Socialization through Technology in Foreign Language LearningDeHaan, J., Johnson, N. H., Kondo, T., & Yoshimura, N. (2012) in Wiki And Digital Video UseIn Strategic Interaction-Based Experiential EFL Learning study the incorporation of technologyin foreign language learning through Strategic Interaction (hereafter, SI). SI is an approach offoreign language instruction that organizes scenarios based on real life events based onexperiential learning theory and sociocultural theories of development. SI was incorporatedthrough technology in a foreign language class to thirteen undergraduate students from a publicurban Japanese university. According to the findings, English communication skills improvedbecause of workshops that promoted social interaction through technology. Students said that thatthey preferred language learning through technology over their regular university English classes.In the findings of the study it was discovered that students developed confidence, creativity and
  4. 4. critical thinking in each one the SI technology based stages. The conclusions suggest thatclassrooms lacking cameras, computers and online technologies could still be a stage forexperiential SI-based learning if teachers and students are willing to use mobile technologies,such as iPads, smart phones and so on. Video-recording cell phones have full capacity to recordinteractions, and therefore students can transcribe the verbal interactions on paper. SI tasksincreases students practice of real life communication, increases motivation, and providesopportunities for peer interaction as well as teacher feedback and support. Certainly,emphasizing students’ participation increases opportunities and even enhances creativity. On theother hand, not including social interaction in foreign language classes can be negative because itmay cause students feel isolated and have negative perceptions of online learning. For example,Kellogg, S., Oliver, K., & Patel, R. (2012) in An Investigation Into Reported Differences BetweenOnline Foreign Language Instruction And Other Subject Areas In A Virtual School foundnegative perceptions from both students and teachers regarding foreign language online educationat North Carolina Virtual Public School mainly because of lack of social interaction. Surveys for559 students and 32 teachers were administered in order to obtain the desired data. NCVPS offersonline courses to students enrolled in public schools, Department of Defense Schools, and Bureauof Indian Affairs Schools. The courses are intended to serve students who are unable to enroll ina traditional classroom at their regular school either because it is either not offered or because ofscheduling problems. A survey was administered in order to identify the reasons why studentsand teachers ended up with such a low perception of foreign language courses taught online.Interestingly, participants in online foreign language courses expressed lower perceptions thanstudents in other subject areas, such as math and science. Findings of the study describechallenges inherent in teaching foreign language classes online as well as recommendations fromboth teachers and students about how those challenges can be overcome. Only 18.9% of foreignlanguage students reported they were learning more or much more online than in face-to-faceclasses. Foreign language was the lowest of six subject areas queried including mathematics,
  5. 5. science and others. However, findings of the study not only reveal that 92.3% of students agreedor strongly agreed that a lack of support was an issue, but also that they needed more interactionin their online foreign language courses. Students recommended teachers to hold more groupdiscussions. Two teachers also recommended further group discussions. Students expressed theyneeded asynchronous and synchronous discussion tools including chat, instant messaging, andWimba Pronto in order to facilitate interaction. Conclusion of the study include that a high degreeof student-teacher interaction is a necessity in virtual high school classrooms, otherwise studentsmay feel ignored, lonely, and without guidance. Lack of prompt feedback and immediateassistance were also found by to be a major source of frustration among students. On the otherhand, teacher support and interaction showed to counter these feeling of isolation and lack ofsupport. While Kellogg, S., Oliver, K., & Patel, R. (2012) found that lack of social interaction canbe negative, Blattner, G., & Fiori, M. (2011) focused implementing one of the biggest Web 2.0tools in a higher education environment, Facebook and identified positive outcomes. Blattner, G.,& Fiori, M. (2011) in Virtual Social Network Communities: An Investigation Of LanguageLearners Development Of Sociopragmatic Awareness And Multiliteracy Skills studied theefficiency of Social Networking Communities (SNC) as a source of learning for an intermediateforeign language class in order to promote competent and literate foreign language learners. Thestudy mentions that since our daily communication incorporates technology, learning a foreignlanguage through technology should also be a priority. In the study intermediate learners searchedfor groups in Facebook that were linked to class units in order to learn greetings, different waysof interacting and vocabulary selection used by native speakers. The main goal of the study wasto determine if Facebook group applications facilitated multiliteracy and sociopragmaticawareness in foreign language learning. In the study, 13 undergraduate students enrolled in anintermediate-level Spanish culture at a private college. Findings showed that students were ableto experience different intercultural experiences, gained cultural knowledge, and learned tointeract through slang and idiomatic expressions. For instance, students learned that people in
  6. 6. Latin American countries greet saying “kisses and hugs”. Since both teachers and students wereable to have successful learning experiences through Facebook, it is recommended to do furtherresearch to find out the exact learning outcomes of Social Networking Communities. Ear Training, Comprehension And Pronunciation With Technology According to the findings of East, M., & King, C. (2012) in L2 Learners EngagementWith High Stakes Listening Tests: Does Technology Have A Beneficial Role To Play? bigmodifications need to occur in foreign language teaching, including not only changes inpedagogical practice, but also to incorporate technology in the curriculum in order to helplearners master listening comprehension and pronunciation as well. The study explains thatlistening proficiency of foreign languages for Second language students is a basic expected taskwhen assessing communication skills. The main purpose of the research was to help students bemore successful at the IELTS (International English Language Testing System) since taking thetest is difficult when a foreign language sound is presented only one time at a normal speed. Thestudy investigated the impact of using computer software in language learning with ear trainingand comprehension. Computer software is used to slow down the tempo of listening inputwithout reducing its pitch in order to facilitate comprehension. Students were given theopportunity to listen certain foreign language sounds in their tests with a slower tempo, and as aresult they demonstrated higher levels of performance than those students that did not have theopportunity to listen to the test at a slower tempo. The study points out that slowing down thedelivery makes the input easier to assimilate and comprehend. Furthermore, findings assure thatslowing down the audio not only helps with test delivery, but also helps the outcome of formativeassessments. Findings recommend using free software such as Audacity ™ audio editor becauseenables one to download audio files in several formats including mp3, wav and others. Findingspoint out that many user friendly portable media devices and computer-based media players suchas Windows Media Player and Quicktime enables users to slow down the tempo of audio fileswithout changing the pitch. In conclusion, slowing down the audio helps students both in a
  7. 7. classroom and in self-directed study contexts.DeHaan, J., Johnson, N. H., Kondo, T., & Yoshimura, N. (2012) in Wiki And Digital Video UseIn Strategic Interaction-Based Experiential EFL Learning found through the study of 13voluntary participants from a public Japanese University that their listening comprehension skillsimproved because of workshop activities delivered through technology, including wikis, videosand so on. Findings also revealed the preference to use technology based social environmentsover traditional classes because listening comprehension was easier through technology. Sincethe findings also revealed that students developed confidence, creativity and critical thinkingwhen learning a foreign language through technology based on SI, teachers need to considerimplementing mobile technology when technology is not available in a classroom, becausemodern mobile technology has video-recording and audio recording capacity in addition toincorporate mobile application for foreign language learning.Knowledge of Technology when Learning a Foreign LanguageKarabulut, A., LeVelle, K., Li, J., & Suvorov, R. (2012) in Technology For French Learning: AMismatch Between Expectations And Reality point the negative impact of technology on studentlearning in online classes due to high levels of anxiety at the beginning of a course. However,these anxiety levels tend to drop later during the course of the class. Therefore, lack of knowledgeof the use of technology when learning can produce anxiety, and impact student learningnegatively. Findings of the study show that students need to have similar knowledge in the use oftechnology when learning a foreign language. For instance, while some students said thattechnology helped them learn French, others assured that they lacked the time of usingtechnology. It is important to mention that students acknowledged that technology did not helptheir learning because they did not have to use it. Therefore, the problem is not the use oftechnology, but the lack of time to explore the benefits of using it and how to use it. Certainly, itis a clear contradiction that some students said that using technology helped them in being moreefficient; other students said that they did not have time to explore the benefits that can be
  8. 8. obtained from the use of technology. For instance, Thomas, Alex, and Jane, students thatparticipated in Technology For French Learning: A Mismatch Between Expectations And Realitypointed out that that they did not have time to explore opportunities offered by technology whenlearning a foreign language. Thomas, Alex, and Jane expressed that they needed more time toexplore technology before they could decide how to use it. Thomas expressed his concerns sayingthat if he had more free time, he would spend it learning French online. One of the major findingwas the mismatch between students and instructors rationale for using technology. Findingsrevealed that teachers need to be aware about what types of technology students use voluntarilyoutside of the class, as well as technical problems that students may run into when they usetechnological tools. Undoubtedly, training needs to be provided before an online class starts inorder to assure that all students have similar knowledge of technology. Kellogg, S., Oliver, K., &Patel, R. (2012) in An Investigation Into Reported Differences Between Online Foreign LanguageInstruction And Other Subject Areas In A Virtual School investigated the reasons why studentsand teachers reported low satisfaction and low learning gains from online learning in the foreignlanguage field. One of the areas that limited students from taking full advantage from on-linelearning was the lack of computers and lack of Internet access. Students reported that lack ofsupport at the school level was a strong issue that prevented them from succeeding, and only 18.9% of foreign language students said that they were learning more or much more online than inface-to-face classes. Teachers also acknowledged that online learning requires more modelingand clear explanations from the teachers. 28.3% of students stated that their teachers were notappropriately prepared to teach an online class. In addition, 36.3% of students did not agree thattheir teacher did a good job teaching in an online environment. A student stated that teacherswere not able to respond timely through the Blackboard messaging system, since teachers tookhours or even days to clarify students’ questions. Integrating Emerging Technologies in the Classroom Grgurovic, M. (2011) in Blended Learning In An ESL Class: A Case Study points out
  9. 9. how blended learning, is one of the most recent advances in educational technology. The studypoints out that previous research does not deeply describe the positive outcomes and challengesthat occur when a blended class is being taught. Findings of the study have the capacity to informand modify existing teaching models of blended learning, as well as compare the model used withother instructional methods of blended learning. The study investigates a blended model in alistening and speaking English class that used the CALL model as well as the LearningManagement System for the first time. Nineteen students from a Intensive English programparticipated, two from China and two from Korea. A survey was administered in order to assesstechnology knowledge before the class was delivered. 74% of students assured that they hadpreviously used computers for English study. Furthermore, the first two lab meetings were usedto train students about how to use online materials. One of the strengths was the knowledge of theinstructor, since he had been teaching English for 20 years and he described himself as a dailycomputer user. The instructor used MyNorthStarLab, using materials that were already created,so he did not have to create teaching materials from scratch. MyNorthStarLab provides teachersthe ability to respond orally when providing student feedback using Wimba recorder, a plug-infeature included. When students were in the computer lab, students worked on individual tasks,and the teacher was able to help students not only answering language questions but alsotechnical issues. The teacher was able to focus on students individually, more so that in thetraditional classroom. The study found that technology enhanced learning in the foreign languageclass. The use of MyNorthStarLab helped students practice their foreign language knowledge inboth online and face-to-face classes. Harrison, R., Kitamura, S., Nakahara, J., Shigeta, K.,Shimada, N., Utashiro, T.,Yamauchi, Y. (2011) in Development And Evaluation Of EnglishListening Study Materials For Business People Who Use Mobile Devices: A Case Study studiedthe effectiveness of the integration of Mobile Technology for teaching a foreign language.Different groups of business people, including employees from the sales department incorporatedmobile technology in their learning. The results showed that the use of mobile technology helped
  10. 10. increasing the motivation of the learners. Employees acknowledged that materials deliveredthrough mobile technology were effective because they were applicable to their daily work.Smart phone software was used in order to help improve language fluency of languagelearners. The methodology used in the study included user interface of learning environmentswith video players, question parts, feedback, editing, and learning history data. 47 employeesparticipated in the project but only 30 were included in the data analysis due to someemployees being unable to complete the study. As far as results, both sales and no salespersonal scored higher in the post-test than in the pre-test. Additionally, the findings revealthat employees were successful at acquiring knowledge through the materials deliveredthrough mobile technology, partly because they were highly motivated since the materialswere useful because of the direct impact in their work environment. Peterson, M. (2011) inTowards A Research Agenda For The Use Of Three-Dimensional Virtual Worlds In LanguageLearning points out that many users of CALL have been interested in using software that helpsthem participate in virtual worlds and simulations. Active Life, Virtual Worlds and Second lifeprovide multimedia communication features such as audio and virtual 3D realities. The studyexplains how virtual worlds help second language acquisition. The major findings of the studyrevealed that Second Language and Active Worlds promoted interaction, motivation andparticipation. Second Life provided users the opportunity to create a character, which is calledAvatar. According to the study, Avatars helped students be more engaged and motivated. The useof Avatars also increased the sense of presence of students in the school environment. Second lifeoffers the option of using real time audio. Furthermore, Second Life also offers multiplecommunication channels that allow users interact with each other simultaneously, which helpedstudents not only to participate but also to actively interact with other students. Findings alsobring up the need for learner and educator training when implementing new technologies ineducation. Bollen, M., Gaff, J., Jr., & Goertler, S. (2012) in Students Readiness For AndAttitudes Toward Hybrid FL Instruction assess the institutional preparedness for implementing
  11. 11. hybrid language classes, focusing on students’ computer literacy and access. The study analyzeshow students selected hybrid courses not because they were technologically inclined but becauseof financial and spatial reasons. The findings reveal that the students that did not enroll in hybridclasses showed higher levels of computer literacy and access in comparison with the populationthat enrolled in hybrid language classes. A survey was given to students who were enrolled inthe online of hybrid option and it was found that some students that preferred the hybrid oronline option already owned more computer equipment including software, microphones andcameras, but most students lacked enough knowledge to use them. Unfortunately, olderstudents quit participating when they encounter technological problems. As a conclusion,most students did have basic computer skills but lacked knowledge of specialized software. Evenhybrid students lacked skills to take full advantage of the blended classes. The study recommendsbuilding hybrid courses that are engaging, interactive. In addition, hybrid classes need to givespecial priority to individual feedback and several community building components, such asblogs, wikis, speaking activities, podcasts, and speech recognition software among others. Themain suggestions for future teacher is to include a training component as part of the hybrid classin order to take full advantage of the instruction. Conclusion One of the main focus of this literature review was to find strengths and weaknesses incurrent teaching strategies in online learning. By identifying strengths and weaknesses thisliterature review hopes to create awareness of opportunities and threats that may affect not onlystudents but online instructors as well in foreign language learning. Four areas were selected:a) Socialization through Technology in Foreign Language Learning, b) Ear Training,Comprehension and Pronunciation With Technology, c) Knowledge of Technology whenLearning a Foreign Language and d) Integrating Emerging Technologies in the Classroom.Several findings that produce implication in teaching, online teaching and hybrid/blendedteaching were identified. DeHaan, J., Johnson, N. H., Kondo, T., & Yoshimura, N. (2012) found
  12. 12. that one of the main elements that helps students be motivated and promotes students’participation is social interaction. Because SI is based on social interaction, students had theopportunity to socialize with other students, and because of that social interaction they preferredto have online foreign language classes over their traditional university classes. Kellogg, S.,Oliver, K., & Patel, R. (2012) found that one of the main reasons why students were disappointedabout online learning was because of the lack of social interaction not only with students but alsowith the instructor. Blattner, G., & Fiori, M. (2011) found that implementing one of the biggestsocial networks, Facebook in an education setting created outstanding results. Students were notonly able to experience intercultural communication but they also learned slang and idiomaticexpressions. According to the findings of East, M., & King, C. (2012) found that technology isuseful not only to promote interpersonal dialogue and interaction, but also to help studentsacquire ear training and improve their pronunciation through the use of free user friendlysoftware. The findings of East, M., & King, C. (2012) suggest a revolution in education since theimprovements were outstanding for both teachers and students. Karabulut, A., LeVelle, K., Li, J.,& Suvorov, R. (2012) found that Wikis are a powerful tool because they promote students’participation through interaction and allow students have access to audio of foreign languagelearning. Wikis are one of the most important tools in collaborative education. Certainly, themore interaction tools are included in an online language class, the more successful students andteachers can be. On the other hand, Grgurovic, M. (2011) in Blended Learning In An ESL Class:A Case Study found that a combination of online learning with face to face instruction can be oneof the most advanced methods of instruction. However, both teachers and students need to haveenough knowledge and direction in order to have a successful experience. Harrison, R., Kitamura,S., Nakahara, J., Shigeta, K., Shimada, N., Utashiro, T.,Yamauchi, Y. (2011) found that one ofthe most important elements that help learners being success when learning a foreign languagewas that the materials that were taught were useful in their daily lives. Therefore, the moremeaningful and applicable is the knowledge that is taught in a class, the more chances that
  13. 13. students will be motivated to use it. One of the most important findings is that instructors need toadapt their instruction to daily needs of society. Since technology changes have been incorporatedin the last ten years, teachers need to quickly adapt and be successful in using technology in orderto be role models in the digital age. BibliographyBollen, M., Gaff, J., Jr., & Goertler, S. (2012). Students readiness for and attitudes toward hybridFL instruction. CALICO Journal, 29(2), 297-340Blattner, G., & Fiori, M. (2011). Virtual social network communities: an investigation oflanguage learners development of sociopragmatic awareness and multiliteracy skills. CALICOJournal, 29(1), 24-43DeHaan, J., Johnson, N. H., Kondo, T., & Yoshimura, N. (2012). Wiki and digital video use instrategic interaction-based experiential EFL learning. CALICO Journal, 29(2), 249-268East, M., & King, C. (2012). L2 learners engagement with high stakes listening tests: doestechnology have a beneficial role to play? CALICO Journal, 29(2), 208-248Grgurovic, M. (2011). Blended learning in an ESL class: a case study. CALICO Journal, 29(1),100-131Harrison, R., Kitamura, S., Nakahara, J., Shigeta, K., Shimada, N., Utashiro, T.,Yamauchi, Y.(2011). Development and evaluation of English listening study materials for business people whouse mobile devices: a case study. CALICO Journal, 29(1), 44-66Karabulut, A., LeVelle, K., Li, J., & Suvorov, R. (2012). Technology for French learning: amismatch between expectations and reality. CALICO Journal, 29(2), 341-368Kellogg, S., Oliver, K., & Patel, R. (2012). An investigation into reported differences betweenonline foreign language instruction and other subject areas in a virtual school. CALICO Journal,29(2), 269-296Pellet, S. H. (2012). Wikis for building content knowledge in the foreign language classroom,
  14. 14. CALICO Journal, 29(2), 224-268Peterson, M. (2011). Towards a research agenda for the use of three-dimensional virtual worlds inlanguage learning. CALICO Journal, 29(1), 67-99