It is often difficult for instructors to assess their students’ oral output and language practice beyond the classroom. Given this, Collins and Hunt focus on the effect of educational technologies (self-access environments, talking journals, and video chats) on student motivation and confidence. Technology-based tools have been shown to not only encourage learner autonomy but also increase proficiency and confidence in listening and speaking.
They contain material that promotes language development and practices for students with diverse learning styles and needs. The article’s findings underscore the importance of using learning tools to support and motivate language learners. Self-access environments, talking journals, and video forums are important computer-based technologies (CALL) that can facilitate language learning through student support in outside class contexts.
The article describes a three-year study that investigated the students’ use of educational technology tools incorporated in language learning.
In this study, Collins and Hunt examined the relationship between self-access environments (listening and speaking) and learners’ motivation, oral practice/listening and student confidence, and students’ L2 oral output and speaking practice among Nagasaki University students in their first and second year of study.
The researchers employed a mixed research approach to collect quantitative data and descriptive (qualitative) comments to evaluate the motivation and confidence of the learners during the project.
The results of the first year indicated an improvement in the students’ attitudes about English. A large proportion of the students (60%) reported that the reading journal motivated them to learn English. The second-year results also indicated that the talking journal improved student motivation (84%), interaction, listening, and outside class practice.
During the third year, the researchers found that the video forum and talking journals improved speaking practice, motivation, and confidence of the students. From these results, the authors concluded that self-access environments, video-forums, and talking journals enhance the students’ confidence and motivation to speak and practice the English language.
There are many benefits of language learning tools. Collins and Hunt found that self-access environments, video-forums, and reading journals provide learners with a variety of opportunities for self-directed learning. They also promote learners’ motivation and confidence.
However, it is not clear whether these technologies enhance learner autonomy, as the researchers designed the learning content in the English class. Ideally, self-access settings should promote self-driven learning, whereby the student seeks for relevant content from the information provided.
In the article, the students’ confidence was low in the first year but improved in the subsequent years as the students’ outside class interaction increased. One of the strengths of this article relates to the use of mixed research methods to measure the students’ confidence. The qualitative information (students’ comments and feedback) indicated the students’ attitudes, which the researchers used to reinforce the quantitative data collected.
However, in the study, the researchers did not find out the students’ learning styles or support needs, which, in the writer’s opinion may have affected the measurement of their attitudes towards the technology tools.
Moreover, the authors did not assess the validity and accuracy of the students’ responses. In the writer’s opinion, this affected the correctness of the qualitative data collected in this study. Moreover, the writer disliked the author’s failure to use charts and diagrams to analyze the results.
The use of technology in classroom instruction has increased in recent years. Social networking sites provide platforms and forums on which people exchange ideas and create content. The article by Drewelow examines the use of Twitter as a tool in foreign language learning.
Twitter is a popular networking site that allows sharing of information via short texts. Because most students use this micro-blogging site, there has been an increase in the use of Twitter in classroom teaching and learning.
Twitter provides a platform for students to share information, find helpful information, connect with other students, and interact with teachers in outside class environments. These aspects of Twitter have made it an appropriate tool for foreign language learning.
Twitter also transforms instruction into task-based learning and encourages students to interact and socialize in native languages. Moreover, both students and teachers can access their Twitter accounts through computers, phones, and other devices, which make it a computer-mediated communication (CMC) that teachers can use to stimulate collaborative learning.
The article describes an experimental study that examined the use of Twitter in the instruction and learning of a foreign language. The aim of the study was to find out the effect of incorporating asynchronous media tools (Twitter) into pedagogic approaches on teaching and student understanding of a foreign language.
The author incorporated Twitter into her language course syllabus to expand teacher-learner discussions, promote outside class learning, and communicate her teaching experience.
Before implementing the twitter in the language course, the author requested each participant to set up his or her own Twitter account and restrict his or her tweets from the public. This ensured that the class tweets would remain private. The participants used Twitter to post questions or comments about teaching practices and class work (15 times a week) throughout the semester.
The participants (graduate students) were recruited from students who were undertaking a course in foreign language pedagogic approaches. Of the nine participants, eight were studying French (Master’s and doctoral students), and one was studying Spanish. Six of these students had previously taught high school students.
The author used questionnaires to collect qualitative data, which covered their opinions about the incorporation of Twitter in the course. Data analysis involved a qualitative approach, whereby data were classified into common themes based on similarity. Two distinct categories emerged:
- the limitations of Twitter use
- the benefits of social networking sites in teaching.
The author found out that Twitter use in language learning reduces anxiety in students, enhances participation, and promotes discussions in the classroom and outside class contexts.
The article elaborates how twitter can be utilized to promote student engagement and student-student and teacher-student interactions. Although the author established that twitter enhances collaborative learning, she did not examine the nature of the information that students and teachers shared on Twitter.
Thus, in the writer’s view, determining twitter’s asynchrony (discussion forums) and synchrony (chatting) were not clear from the study’s results. For instance, it is not clear whether the participants used Twitter to seek answers to questions or exchange views.
Moreover, since the participants were drawn from different fields (French and Spanish majors), it is difficult to integrate their views and develop common learning/teaching goals.
The sample used in this study was too small to make meaningful conclusions. Only nine participants were included in the study. This limits the study’s external validity. In the writer’s view, the researcher could have used a mixed research approach (qualitative and quantitative methods) as this would have enhanced the reliability and validity of the results.