A constructivist computer-assisted language learning environment for second language/cultural learners in northern Taiwan
I-Chien Chen, The Pennsylvania State University, United States
The Pennsylvania State University . Awarded
The purpose of this study was to investigate the attitude changes of college EFL (English as a foreign language) learners in Northern Taiwan concerning exposure to American culture in a constructivist CALL (computer-assisted language learning) environment and to arrive at better understanding of their perceptions following immersion in the CALL environment. The subjects of this study were 29 college freshmen enrolled in an English writing course in the Department of English in Northern Taiwan. Quantitative and qualitative methods were used for this project.
There were two CALL-enabled cultural learning activities in the CALL environment, including web-based activities and a US e-pal activity. Data for this study was collected in three ways: (1) two surveys, (2) quantitative observations, and (3) in-depth phenomenological interviews. The surveys were designed by the researcher and contained 40 Liker-scaled items.
Qualitative data was collected through in-depth interviews with three selected subjects from the 29 participants. The interviews were transcribed and translated by the researchers, and the accuracy of the translation was reviewed by a fluent mandarin-speaking educator.
Data analyses include frequencies, percentages, Pearson product-moment correlation, paired t-test, and independent t-test for the quantitative data and content analysis for the qualitative data. Quantitative results indicated that college EFL learners in this study possessed positive attitudes towards American cultural learning and its cultural learning styles, both traditional and the CALL-enabled cultural learning styles. Their attitudes towards cultural learning and the learning styles did not undergo much significant change; however, the results suggest that subjects in this study gained greater confidence in self-exploring American culture and through discussions with their peers and US e-pals. The more the subjects participated in the CALL environment, the more they felt the importance of understanding the ways that Americans communicate differently from the ways that they do and learning how and why Americans behave differently. The more subjects participated in the CALL environment, the less strongly they felt that information on the Internet helped them better understand American culture, and the less they liked exploring American culture via the Internet. These findings were contrary to previous studies, suggesting the need to review the question of CALL-enabled culture studies in greater detail.
The qualitative results suggest that subjects possessed positive perceptions of the CALL-enabled cultural learning environment. They were transformed from passive knowledge receivers to active knowledge explorers, from one-way to multiple thinking, and from believers to inquirers. Subjects' anxieties about posting ideas that might be different from that of their peers, at the beginning of the CALL activities, disappeared at the later stages of the CALL environment.
The results of this study suggest that the CALL environment is, at the very least, a viable way for EFL learners to learn about American culture, and to do so in novel and exciting ways.
Chen, I.C. A constructivist computer-assisted language learning environment for second language/cultural learners in northern Taiwan. Ph.D. thesis, The Pennsylvania State University.
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