Research into Enhancing the Language Learning Experience
How can technology enhance second language acquisition? Despite the emergence of new technology, new standards, and resources, world language teachers continue to use traditional teaching methods that do not adapt to students’ individual needs, nor prepares students for college and career readiness for the 21st century. Therefore, I conducted a study using technology, the flipped model, and 21st century frameworks for World Languages in order to see if implementation had an impact on on students’ learning experiences and improve communicative competence of the target language. After collecting quantitative and qualitative data, overall students’ language learning experiences improved, and students’ language grew from identifying words to applying the language in real context in a two week experimental unit. However, there were few challenges; accountability on students’ part of watching lectures and/or content outside of class, short time frame to conduct experimentation, and lack of resources at the time when I began my research. In my final analysis, I found that implementing technology not only enhanced students’ language learning, but their learning experience as well.
KEYWORDS: Second Language Acquisition, Technology, Collaboration, 21st Century Learning and Teaching
Background and Need, Rationale, etc.
There has always been methodologies in how to teach second language acquisition and experts in the field that share their theories in how to best facilitate language teaching. For example, Stephen Krashen’s Theory of Second Language Acquisition, advocates that acquisition requires meaningful interactions and natural communication where the learners of the language are not concerned with grammatical structures, but to be able to deliver and comprehend the the information. In addition to Krashen, there is the popular methodology called Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) where the target language is learned through communication versus grammar based learning. However, the problem is that foreign language teachers continue to use traditional methods of teaching that are not relevant to today’s needs for students college and career readiness.
In contrast, the World Language Content Standards for California for Public Schools focuses in all aspects of learning a language. Including: covering specific content, analyzing products and practices of a culture, how to appropriately use the language in a specific settings, knowing the components of grammar, and finally, communication (speaking, reading, writing, and listening). The state standards does present the importance of developing communicative proficiency and making learning authentic, but at the same time, it emphasizes structure of the language; therefore, may be the cause for teachers to use grammar-based learning.
Comparatively, the school district is implementing district wide goals which are: preparing all students for college and careers, provide equitable access and opportunities to close the achievement gap, and instill 21st century skills by harnessing the four C’s: critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and creativity. With these goals in mind the district has to opt out of the old classroom model (teacher centered, one way, one size fits all) to adapt in the new digital world, in the hope of providing students technology-rich classrooms that stimulate students in relevant and rigorous content that promotes critical thinking (NVUSD, 2014). Under those circumstances, Harvest Middle School located in Napa, CA was granted one million federal grant under the Magnet School Assistance Program. As a result from the grant, the school is in the process of becoming an authorized International Baccalaureate World School (IB) through the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO). In effect, teachers are engaged in professional development related to the principles of IB and concept-based unit planning. Teachers are required to create units that inspire the four C’s, inquiry, and 21st Century skills.
Despite the resources of information about second language acquisition, the district’s support and goals, and the school’s transformation into a 21st century teaching model, majority of world language teachers are continuing to follow traditional forms of instruction. This may be due to various circumstances. For example, lack of professional development, lack of planning with professional learning communities, or inadequate student-teaching preparation. Equally important, the fear of change or taking the risks, and many cases, are unfamiliar to the modern ways of teaching foreign languages. With the school transitioning into an IB World School, the school district's goals and vision, and technological resources have been beneficial for the teachers and the students for the reason that it has opened new opportunities to deliver and receive content. However, without models or professional development in how to effectively use these resources to teach a foreign language classroom has been challenging. Moreover, leaves the instructor to pilot tasks that may fail and affect the student's’ performance.