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Blending technology and face-to-face: Advanced students’ choices

  • Ruth Trinder (a1)


It has been suggested that current research in computer-assisted language learning (CALL) should seek to understand the conditions and circumstances that govern students’ use of technology (Steel & Levy, 2013). This paper attempts to identify critical factors accounting for student choices, first, by investigating advanced learners’ reported use as well as their views on the potential of specific technological resources for language learning, and, second, by widening the perspective and surveying students’ ideal learning environments. Learners’ reasons for preferring teacher-fronted classes, blended learning, immersion or technology-mediated settings yield useful information on how students perceive the strengths and weaknesses of interaction/engagement with material (i.e. technological) as well as social (i.e. human) resources, and how the roles of teachers/classes can be conceptualised today.

Data was collected via a survey of 175 Austrian university students which included Likert-type ratings and free text responses to open questions. Findings indicate that though the cohort routinely use a wide range of technology tools in their everyday lives and show awareness of the potential of ICT for language learning, a number of barriers exist based on learner beliefs/conceptions and learning aims. Thus the notion that enhancement of communicative competence is intrinsically tied to personal interaction with native speakers means that the potential of communication technologies such as Skype is not fully appreciated. It was further established that though many students are well versed in blending different technological resources in line with the criteria identified, thus displaying the hallmarks of autonomous learners, there was a clear preference for real-life compared to virtual environments.



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