This article proposes a methodology to create a multimodal corpus that can be shared with a group of researchers in order to analyze synchronous online pedagogical interactions. Epistemological aspects involved in studying online interactions from a multimodal and semiotic perspective are addressed. Then, issues and challenges raised by corpus creation and sharing are examined with a particular focus on ethics. Basing my discussion and analysis around a particular research project, the steps involved in the creation of a multimodal and shareable corpus are described and the scientific benefits of a collective exploration of data and their subsequent multimodal representations are discussed and illustrated. It is finally claimed that corpus sharing can contribute vastly to the field of computer-assisted language learning by enhancing its scientific robustness as it favors a multidisciplinary, systematic, and in-depth analysis of multimodal data.
Joseph D. Cunningham
Second language (L2) request production has long been a central area of inquiry in interlanguage pragmatics, including how L2 learners mitigate their requests and whether such strategies correspond to or differ from those of first language (L1) speakers. Methodologically, such research often involves elicited speech and tends to isolate the speech act from the surrounding discourse using instruments such as discourse completion tasks. While some naturalistic speech contexts (e.g., academic advising sessions) have been investigated, few studies to date have analyzed requesting in synchronous computer-mediated communication (SCMC). The current study responds by presenting a multifactorial analysis of L1 and L2 request production that occurred during eight one-hour web conferences between L2 learners of German for professional purposes and L1 German professionals. Three taxonomies traditionally used in face-to-face pragmatics research were adapted for analysis of the SCMC, enabling the use of a generalized linear mixed model. Findings indicate that while both groups of speakers used predominantly direct requesting behavior, L1 speakers used significantly more internal modification devices than did L2 learners.
Kyle W. Scholz; Mathias Schulze
Recent research in digital game-based language learning has been encouraging, yet it would benefit from research methods that focus on the gaming processes and second-language development (Larsen-Freeman, 2015) rather than learner/player reflection or individuals’ beliefs about the validity of gameplay. This has proven challenging as research methods which provide insight into the gameplay experiences and its many factors are needed. Having the gameplay experience occur extramurally is desirable, but makes the direct observation of the learners’ activities by a researcher difficult. For this reason, we suggest approaching digital game-based language learning through complex adaptive systems research (Larsen-Freeman & Cameron, 2008a) and employing Dörnyei’s (2014) retrodictive qualitative modeling to capture the complex synchronic and diachronic variability of the learners and their individual nonlinear gaming trajectories with requisite data density and over a considerable period of time. This article draws on a study examining language learners playing the online role-playing game World of Warcraft over four months. We will focus on the data collection in this observational study and the methods of analysis of a complex adaptive system, which helped to better understand the role of extramural digital gaming for the purpose of second-language development.
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.
Soobin Yim; Mark Warschauer
The increasingly widespread use of social software (e.g., Wikis, Google Docs) in second language (L2) settings has brought a renewed attention to collaborative writing. Although the current methodological approaches to examining collaborative writing are valuable to understand L2 students’ interactional patterns or perceived experiences, they can be insufficient to capture the quantity and quality of writing in networked online environments. Recently, the evolution of techniques for analyzing big data has transformed many areas of life, from information search to marketing. However, the use of data and text mining for understanding writing processes in language learning contexts is largely underexplored. In this article, we synthesize the current methodological approaches to researching collaborative writing and discuss how new text mining tools can enhance research capacity. These advanced methods can help researchers to elucidate collaboration processes by analyzing user behaviors (e.g., amount of editing, participation equality) and their link to writing outcomes across large numbers of exemplars. We introduce key research examples to illustrate this potential and discuss the implications of integrating the tools for L2 collaborative writing research and pedagogy.
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.
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.