Innovative Language Teaching and Learning at University: Enhancing student performance

Enhancing language learning around the digital tabletop: do actions speak louder than words?

As educational technologies offer increasingly ubiquitous opportunities for language learners, the role of technology in 21st century education has become increasingly prevalent. Higher Education is no exception: Should technology work to offer solutions to language teaching and learning or be a tool to assist existing educational practices?

This paper evaluates the use of digital tabletops as new educational technology tools for language learners. In doing so, it evaluates the extent to which applications designed for collaborative learning platforms such as digital tabletops can lead to enhanced learning opportunities both in the short and longer-term.

The focus of the evaluation is on a small-scale study which explored the use of the Digital Mysteries, an application designed to promote higher-level thinking, with postgraduate English as a Foreign Language (EFL) learners at a British University where thinking skills and more specifically critical thinking is now an accepted crucial capability for academic study.

The study sought to identify what specific affordances in the design of such existing applications might benefit EFL learners in terms of thinking skills, interactional competence and linguistic performance, and by the same token, what might not. The evaluation considers moment-to-moment multimodal interaction with three groups of Chinese EFL learners. In this paper more specifically, interactional competence is brought into the fore where Conversation Analysis is used as a methodological tool to investigate relevant processes and behaviours within a CA for SLA approach (Markee, 2000).

Findings are presented from a comprehensive analysis of the groups’ interactions with and around the completion of the Digital Mysteries leading to a number of suggestions about how technologies designed for collaborative learning might be repurposed for thinking skills and language learning in Higher Education to enhance student performance.

Reference

Markee, N 2000, Conversation Analysis. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Dr Anne Preston, Dr Ahmed Kharrufa, Dr Mei Lin & Zhuoran KongUniversity of Newcastle

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