Volume 21 Number 1, February 2017


Examining focused L2 practice: From in vitro to in vivo

Frederik Cornillie; Wim Van Den Noortgate; Kris Van den Branden; Piet Desmet

Behaviour-tracking technology has been used for decades in SLA research on focused practice with an eye toward elucidating the nature of L2 automatization (e.g. DeKeyser, 1997; Robinson, 1997). This involves longitudinally capturing learners’ judgments or linguistic production along with their response times in order to investigate how specific skills become automatic over time. However, previous research in this area has been conducted mostly in laboratories (i.e., in vitro), sometimes with artificial languages, thereby compromising ecological validity of the findings. Building on this work, this article reports on a one-month study in which learners’ (N = 126) behaviour was tracked while they practised two constructions of English grammar (varying in complexity) using mini-games that involved some time pressure and were embedded in meaning-focused reading and discussion activities in class. Feedback was randomly varied between participants. Multilevel statistical analyses of accuracy and response time suggest that practice helped to develop automaticity, and that rule complexity and metalinguistic feedback played a role. The methodological innovation of this study consists of the application of in vitro experimental research techniques in in vivo L2 learning contexts and of the use of statistical mixed effects models to account for the complexity of real-life tracking data.

Challenges in transcribing multimodal data: A case study

Francesca Helm; Melinda Dooly

Computer-mediated communication (CMC) once meant principally text-based communication mediated by computers, but rapid technological advances in recent years have heralded an era of multimodal communication with a growing emphasis on audio and video synchronous interaction. As CMC, in all its variants (text chats, video chats, forums, blogs, SMS, etc.), has become normalized practice in personal and professional lives, educational initiatives, particularly language teaching and learning, are following suit. For researchers interested in exploring learner interactions in complex technology-supported learning environments, new challenges inevitably emerge. This article looks at the challenges of transcribing and representing multimodal data (visual, oral, and textual) when engaging in computer-assisted language learning research. When transcribing and representing such data, the choices made depend very much on the specific research questions addressed, hence in this paper we explore these challenges through discussion of a specific case study where the researchers were seeking to explore the emergence of identity through interaction in an online, multimodal situated space. Given the limited amount of literature addressing the transcription of online multimodal communication, it is felt that this article is a timely contribution to researchers interested in exploring interaction in CMC language and intercultural learning environments.



Emerging Technologies

Review Acknowledgements

Call for Papers



Language Teaching and Technology Forum

Mobile-assisted narrative writing practice for young English language learners from a funds of knowledge approach

Yan Chen; Chris Liska Carger; Thomas J. Smith

As a nation of immigrants with diverse cultures and nationalities, one of the most striking occurrences in the United States educational system is the rapidly increasing enrollment of English Language Learners (ELLs). In view of their multicultural backgrounds, the multiliteracies education of ELLs is intertwined with their diverse socioeconomic, cultural, linguistic, and ethnic backgrounds, as well as their technological experiences. This 4-week research implemented an instrumental case study approach using funds of knowledge (FoK; see González, Moll, & Amanti, 2005) to explore the learning effects of scaffolding young ELLs’ narrative writing skills through the use of tablet computers (iPads) and a digital handwriting app (Penultimate). Research findings showed that ELLs’ learning motivation and quality of narrative writing abilities were enhanced through the use of this mobile technology. The culture-based writing topics based on FoK mirrored the ELLs’ multicultural backgrounds and provided ELL teachers a creative way to incorporate students’ prior knowledge into their English as second language learning through a culture-based instructional model. Parents also played a potential role in young ELLs’ mobile-assisted language learning. Future studies should be directed toward extending multiliteracies curricula through FoK to actively engage ELLs in narrative writing activities through the use of emerging mobile technology.