Using the power of research to inform ICT integration in education

Archive for the ‘Language’ Category

Are e-devices hindering Chinese children’s reading development?

Tan, L. H., Xu, M., Chang, C. Q., & Siok, W. T. (2013). China’s language input system in the digital age affects children’s reading development. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences110(3), 1119-1123.

Written Chinese as a logographic system was developed over 3,000 years ago. Historically, Chinese children have learned to read by learning to associate the visuo-graphic properties of Chinese characters with lexical meaning, typically through handwriting. In recent years, however, many Chinese children have learned to use electronic communication devices based on the pinyin input method, which associates phonemes and English letters with characters. When children use pinyin to key in letters, their spelling no longer depends on reproducing the visuo-graphic properties of characters that are indispensable to Chinese reading, and, thus, typing in pinyin may conflict with the traditional learning processes for written Chinese.  We found that the overall incidence rate of severe reading difficulty appears to be much higher than ever reported on Chinese reading. Crucially, we found that children’s reading scores were significantly negatively correlated with their use of the pinyin input method, suggesting that pinyin typing on e-devices hinders Chinese reading development. The Chinese language has survived the technological challenges of the digital era, but the benefits of communicating digitally may come with a cost in proficient learning of written Chinese.

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How can digital devices be used more effectively for the learning of second language vocabulary?

Jock Boyd (2011) The role of digital devices in vocabulary acquisition, Cambridge ESOL : Research Notes : Issue 44 / May 2011

With the advent of social networks, cloud computing and digital devices, the landscape of learning is changing rapidly. Students are using digital devices, in the form of smart phones and iPads in the classroom but, from my observations, they have been using them as mere reference materials, looking up words and translating them into their own languages. These powerful devices are capable of much more; they can be used as learning tools if they are incorporated into classroom teaching practice. The present action research investigates how students normally use their digital devices for vocabulary acquisition and shows how digital devices could be used more fully and creatively to enhance learning of second language (L2) vocabulary, both general and specialised (discipline-specific).

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How does mobile learning support Teaching English as a Second Language?

Maryam Tayebinik, Dr. Marlia Puteh (2012) Mobile Learning to Support Teaching English as a Second Language,  Journal of Education and Practice, Vol 3, No 7, 2012

Technology utilization in distance education has demonstrated its significance in the transfer of knowledge for both the instructors and the learners. This is also made possible through the use of the Internet which helps change the traditional teaching approaches into more modern methods when integrated with the pedagogical instruction. Mobile devices together with other forms of technology-based tools in education have established their potential in language teaching. In this regards, the Teaching of English as a Second Language (TESL) has become easier and more attractive via mobile learning. The aim of this study is to review the mobile-based teaching and learning in the English language classroom. Such integration of mobile learning with English language teaching may offer great innovations in the pedagogical delivery.

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Can a 3D Multi-User Virtual World support Language Learning?

Ibáñez, M. B., García, J. J., Galán, S., Maroto, D., Morillo, D., & Kloos, C. D. (2011). Design and Implementation of a 3D Multi- User Virtual World for Language Learning. Educational Technology & Society, 14 (4), 2–10.

The best way to learn is by having a good teacher and the best language learning takes place when the learner is immersed in an environment where the language is natively spoken. 3D multi-user virtual worlds have been claimed to be useful for learning, and the field of exploiting them for education is becoming more and more active thanks to the availability of open source 3D multi-user virtual world development tools. The research question we wanted to respond to was whether we could deploy an engaging learning experience to foster communication skills within a 3D multi-user virtual world with minimum teacher’s help. We base our instructional design on the combination of two constructivist learning strategies: situated learning and cooperative/collaborative learning. We extend the capabilities of the Open Wonderland development toolkit to provide natural text chatting with non-player characters, textual tagging of virtual objects, automatic reading of texts in learning sequences and the orchestration of learning activities to foster collaboration. Our preliminary evaluation of the experience deems it to be very promising.

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How can Speech Recognition-Supported Games Improve Literacy?

Anuj Kumar, Pooja Reddy, Anuj Tewari, Rajat Agrawal, Matthew Kam (2012) Improving Literacy in Developing Countries Using Speech Recognition-Supported Games on Mobile Devices, To appear in Proceedings of ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ’12), Austin, Texas, May 5-10, 2012.

Learning to read in a second language is challenging, but highly rewarding. For low-income children in developing countries, this task can be significantly more challenging because of lack of access to high-quality schooling, but can potentially improve economic prospects at the same time. A synthesis of research findings suggests that practicing recalling and vocalizing words for expressing an intended meaning could improve word reading skills – including reading in a second language – more than silent recognition of what the given words mean. Unfortunately, many language learning software do not support this instructional approach, owing to the technical challenges of incorporating speech recognition support to check that the learner is vocalizing the correct word. In this paper, we present results from a usability test and two subsequent experiments that explore the use of two speech recognition- enabled mobile games to help rural children in India read words with understanding.

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How can Google Maps support Japanese Language Learners?

Kiyomi Fujii, James Elwood, and Barron Orr (2011) Collaborative Mapping: Google Maps for Language Exchange, Proceedings of the 22nd Annual Conference of the Central Association of Teachers of Japanese (CATJ22)

One of the many aspects of the burgeoning world of cloud computing, Web 2.0 (e.g. Google Maps), provides an engaging classroom tool that allows student production to be easily exhibited publicly in what Shulman (1997) dubbed the „capstone experience‟ of a learning endeavor. Through the use of Web 2.0 innovations that facilitate place-based communication and social networking, preliminary work suggests it may be possible to encourage language learners in two different countries to interact more, learn more, and engage further in cultural exchange on their own initiative. This paper explores a language exchange activity, using Web 2.0 technology, between university EFL (English as a foreign language) students in Japan and JFL (Japanese as a foreign language) students in America. The approach applies a traditional typing-and- composition lecture to an activity where students interactively and collaboratively map and describe the locations of favorite campus sites using Google Maps.

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How can Google docs be used to support an ESL program?

This paper demonstrates a number of practical applications in which the Google Docs suite is currently being used within a university ESL program in Tokyo. Specifically, it gives examples of the scope and limitations of the free online software on four levels: (1) the program level – management of teaching as- signments and reporting of grades; (2) special program management – online book reports for extensive reading; (3) course management – homework production and submission, and self and peer assessment; and (4) project work – collaborative writing and student-generated questionnaires.

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How can iPods Facilitate Vocabulary Instruction with ESL Students?

Lucretia M. Fraga, Janis M. Harmon, Karen D. Wood, and Elizabeth Buckelew-Martin (2011) “Digital Word Walls and Vocabulary Learning: The Use of iPods to Facilitate Vocabulary Instruction with ESL Students”, Journal of the Research Center for Educational Technology (RCET) Vol. 7, No. 2, Fall 2011

Mobile devices such as iPods can be potentially effective learning tools, especially for advancing the vocabulary development of English as a Second Language (ESL) learners. The purpose of this study was twofold: (1) to investigate ESL high school students’ knowledge of using iPods for learning vocabulary; and (2) to determine ESL high school students’ achievement differences in vocabulary when exposed to two traditional vocabulary instructional frameworks using word walls versus digital word wall instruction. The study followed a mixed-method design using both qualitative and quantitative methodologies. The specific strategies used to support vocabulary learning in all three instructional frameworks were based upon the principles of effective vocabulary instruction and factors related to active student engagement. Findings indicate no statistically significant differences between instructional frameworks in word-meaning acquisition. However, students were more engaged in the activities associated with the digital word wall framework, i.e. activities related to developing vocabulary vodcasts.

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How does online writing in ESL instruction encourage participation in public discourse?

Chan Mei Yuit & Yap Ngee Thai (2010) Encouraging participation in public discourse through online writing in ESL instruction, 3L The Southeast Asian Journal of English Language Studies Vol 16 (2) 2010

In recent years, writing instructors have started to adopt pedagogies that integrate classroom writing with happenings outside the classroom (see Weisser, 2001; Flower, 2008; Mathieu, 2005). The goal of writing instruction is no longer limited to competence in terms of language, style and techniques, but is expanded to encompass civic literacy. This orientation of writing especially at university level intertwines with the aim of higher education to produce individuals who are empowered to contribute towards a better world through participation in public discourse. In a study conducted at Universiti Putra Malaysia, 1,400 students were required to write publicly in an online forum on issues that affect the lives of the students and the community in which they belong. This paper presents the results of the study and discusses the contribution of a public orientation in ESL writing instruction in fostering ability and motivation to participate in public discourse among university students.

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Is Twitter Effective for Language Learning?

Kerstin Borau, Carsten Ullrich, Jinjin Feng, and Ruimin Shen (2009) Microblogging for Language Learning: Using Twitter to Train Communicative and Cultural Competence,  Advances in Web Based Learning – ICWL 2009 (2009) Volume: 5686, Issue: 500

Our work analyzes the usefulness of microblogging in second language learning using the example of the social network Twitter. Most learners of English do not require even more passive input in form of texts, lectures or videos, etc. This input is readily available in numerous forms on the Internet. What learners of English need is the chance to actively produce language and the chance to use English as tool of communication. This calls for instructional methods and tools promoting ‘active’ learning that present opportunities for students to express themselves and interact in the target language. In this paper we describe how we used Twitter with students of English at the Distant College of Shanghai Jiao Tong University. We analyze the students’ messages and show how the usage of Twitter trained communicative and cultural competence.

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What do recent studies show about literacy and technology in primary classrooms?

BURNETT, C. (2009). Research into literacy and technology in primary classrooms: an exploration of understandings generated by recent studies. Journal of research in reading (special issue: New developments in literacy and technology), 32 (1), 22-37.

Whilst much has been written about the implications for ‘literacy’ for practices surrounding digital technologies (Gee, 2000a; Luke and Carrington, 2002; Snyder, 1998), there has been surprisingly little research investigating new literacies in primary classrooms (Andrews, 2003; Labbo and Reinking, 2003: Lankshear and Knobel, 2003). This review examines the kinds of understandings that have been generated through studies of primary literacy and technology reported during the period 2000-2006. It uses Green’s distinction between ‘operational’, ‘cultural’ and ‘critical’ dimensions of primary literacy (Lankshear and Bigum, 1999; Snyder, 2001) to investigate the focus and methodology of 38 empirical studies. It explores ways in which research may be informed by assumptions and practices associated with print literacy, but also highlights the kinds of studies which are beginning to investigate the implications of digital texts for primary education. The paper concludes by arguing for further ethnographic and phenomenological studies of classroom literacy practices in order to explore the complex contexts which surround and are mediated by digital texts.

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How can Systemic Functional Grammar be used to construct a powerful online identity?

Victor Ho (2010Constructing Identities In The Workplace Through Request E-Mail Discourse – How Does One Benefit From It? GEMA OnlineTM Journal of Language Studies 3 Volume 10(2) 2010

This paper discusses the construction of personal identities through the request e-mail discourse by a group of professional English language teachers of a public education institution in Hong Kong. Facing the downsizing of the civil service, the revised appraisal system, and the tighter budget of the Hong Kong SAR government following the Asian financial crisis, teachers working in Hong Kong public schools have less chances of getting promotion and pay rises. To put themselves in an advantageous position in relation to get a promotion and a pay rise, as argued in this paper, the teachers constructed two personal identities online before their peers and superiors in their workplace. A total of 50 e-mails met the two criteria that follow and formed the corpus of the present study: containing at least one request, and having teachers of the same rank as the author and recipients. The request e-mail discourse is analyzed at the clause level with respect to transitivity, mood and modality by drawing upon systemic functional linguistics. It is found that the teachers, using the resources available in the English language grammar, constructed for themselves the identity of a responsible, hardworking member, and of a member with authority and power. This paper hopes to achieve three aims – (1) to contribute to the understanding of the constitutive effect of discourse; (2) to illustrate how such effect could be manipulated by discourse producers in order to achieve both their communicative and political aims; and (3) to enhance people’s e-mail communication competency in the workplace.

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How is technology changing literacy?

Guy Merchant (2009) Literacy in virtual worlds, Journal of Research in Reading, Volume 32, Issue 1, 2009, pp 38–56

Introducing new digital literacies into classroom settings is an important and challenging task, and one that is encouraged by both policy-makers and educators. This paper draws on a case study of a 3D virtual world which aimed to engage and motivate primary school children in an immersive and literacy-rich on-line experience. Planning decisions, early experimentation and the experience of avatar interaction are explored. Using field notes, in-world interviews and observations I analyse pupil and teacher perspectives on the use of digital literacy and its relationship to conventional classroom literacy routines, and use these to trace the potential and inherently disruptive nature of such work. The paper makes the case for a wider recognition of the role of technology in literacy and suggests that teachers need time for experimentation and professional development if they are to respond appropriately to new digital literacies in the classroom.

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Do students need guidance to blog effectively?

Carla Arena (2008) Blogging in the Language Classroom: It Doesn’t “Simply Happen”, Teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language (2008) Volume: 11, Issue: 3, Pages: 1-7

This paper describes the importance of guiding students to use blogs (Web logs) for educational purposes. While blogs are commonly thought of as simply happening, in fact, educators in a media literate world need to rethink and redefine best practices for using this tool. Introduction Ideally, through blogs, students would create content and construct knowledge using the wonders of these publishing tools that abound online. I definitely believe in the power of blogs to improve students abilities while learning a second language, in my case, in an EFL context. However, blogging doesnt simply happen. The word has been spread about the potential of blogging for the language classroom, but there needs to be more than an idea to convince students that they can really profit from this tool on the read/write Web. There are numerous options for blogs, depending on the goals set for them. In the English as a Foreign Language setting, one can find blogs for professional development, class blogs, and students individual blogs, among others. In this sense, unleashing the potential of blogs for language learning will be directly related to teachers understanding of the pedagogical benefits of such a tool, and the students perception of its value in their learning process. As pointed out by Glogowsky (2008) in his post about blogtalk, Blogging is not about choosing a topic and writing responses for the rest of the term. It is about meaningful, thoughtful engagement with ideas (para. 2). Blogs as Conversations Blogs imply conversations. And, for these conversations to happen, there first needs to be a redefinition of the educators presence and role in the blogging classroom. Educators should be facilitate the process of establishing the online conversations within oneself, among learners, with other teachers, and possibly the world. Students will have to get used to the blogging experience to learn how to properly answer posts, how to cite, and how to establish their own blogging tone through their posts. in such a way that they find their unique channel of communication in the target language.

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How can Blogs be used to maximize students’ collaborative writing?

Zaini Amir, Kemboja Ismail, Supyan Hussin (2011) Blogs in Language Learning: Maximizing Students’ Collaborative Writing, Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences (2011) Volume: 18, Pages: 537-543

Educators have engaged with Web 2.0 technologies such as blogs or podcasts, to make learning more personalized, more interactive and more dynamic. Blogging has emerged as one of the most popular forms of online discourse. Blogging is seen as a learning platform in providing opportunities for learning English which can improve the students’ knowledge about their language performance in writing. The unique nature of the blog’s architecture and the low cost have not only affected how students can publish and distribute their work to a wider audience but also how the students see themselves as authors. This paper focuses on the use of blogs in a language and IT course which can help to maximize students’ collaborative writing. Findings from the blogs include the perceptions of ESL students of how blogging can contribute to the development of the students’ writing.

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