Understanding E-Skills in the FLT Context

Understanding E-Skills in the FLT Context

Pascual Pérez-Paredes (Universidad de Murcia, Spain) and Maria Sánchez-Tornel (Universidad de Murcia, Spain)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-994-6.ch001
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The research we report is a pilot study carried to test English as a Foreign Language (EFL) students’ reception of an electronic foreign language teaching (FLT) task. In doing so, our aim was to collect information that can allow us to refine our own e-skills model, a model that adapts to the specific learning context of our students by focusing on the objectives, competence, and learning activities that our students engage in, in their everyday learning experience. In this way, our e-skills model is field-specific and context-survey-driven. The factor analysis results suggest that, although our four-factor solution explains much of the variance, the original dimensions of e-skills in our FLT context should be reformulated and further adjusted.
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Introduction: Putting E-Skills In The Broad Picture

Within the context of the European Union (EU), e-skills have become one of the main areas of discussion of the so-called ICT Task Force, which was created in June 2006 to foster a debate on the use of information and communication technologies in all major types of activities across the EU. In the words of the European Commission, the ICT Task Force is “one of several actions undertaken to create a more favorable EU business environment under the Growth and Jobs initiative proposals for specific actions, such as designing a long-term e-skills strategy and promoting interoperability.”1 A report produced by this group in October 2006 stated that a “steadily growing demand for people with ‘e-skills’ (ICT skills) is a long-run trend for business of all sizes and sectors [where] non-ICT related professions will increasingly require at least basic user e-skills.”2 There is, therefore, a strong link between a “knowledge-based economy which has made education and training a lifelong process rather than a one-off activity”3 and “technology-enabled learning (e-learning) [which] can significantly contribute to lifelong learning and make it a reality.”4

Although e-skills have been successfully implemented in other professional and academic areas, it remains to be seen what the potential for foreign language teaching (FLT) is. In 2003, the European e-Skills Forum was established by the European Commission to promote the effective use of ICT and its successful introduction in all major areas of human activity, especially in the business and industrial sectors. As the focus is the promotion of enhanced labor policies, education and training are key factors in this process. In the European E-Skills 2004 Conference5 held in Thessalonica, Greece, e-skills were defined as encompassing a wide range of capabilities (knowledge, skills, and competences) whose dimensions span a number of economic and social areas. However, the ways individuals interact with ICT vary considerably, depending on the work organization and context of a particular employer, or home environment, as the Synthesis Report of the E-Skills Forum reckons. This notion of variation will precisely be of great interest in the following paragraphs as we want to shed some light on adjacent or related terms by surveying the FLT and CALL literature that has dealt with them. Moreover, we want to create our own model of e-skills, a model that adapts to the specific learning context of our students by focusing on the objectives, competence, and learning activities our students engage in, in their everyday learning experience. In this way, our e-skills model is field-specific and context-survey-driven.

One of the major challenges of our research is to try and narrow down the usefulness and epistemology of the e-skills term in our field by: (1) analyzing existing work, (2) submitting our e-skill frame proposal to the learners’ evaluation, and thus (3) in the future, building a data-driven construct that can serve as a starting point for future research. Concerning the first area, once we have discussed mainstream FLT practices, we want to make an effort to outline a notion of e-skill in FLT on three different well-defined areas: (a) new curricular needs and the transformation process (Timuçin, 2006), (b) the well-known normalization issue first introduced by Bax (2003), and (c) the new model for communicative competence (Kenning, 2006) and the need to establish a social context for the adaptation of ICT skills to continuous change. This component of our research is distinctively part of a theory-informed process which seeks to define problems explicitly (Widdowson, 2003).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Skill: A complex term whose scope spans different domains. Within the field of FLT, skill refers to the four basic abilities students must develop to achieve a good command of the language. From a more general perspective, skill refers to any ability acquired by training or practice, allowing individuals to perform well in multifarious types of tasks. In this context, a skill is an ability that is acquired through practice and by using declarative knowledge.

Normalization: Based on Bax (2003), a future vision of future development of CALL in FLT.

Factor Analysis: Data-reduction technique used to interpret underlying dimensions in a construct.

E-Task: A task designed to be performed on a computer. These types of tasks appear in special formats, such as hypertext formats. The process of e-task solving is closely related to the use of electronic resources, as students can turn to this type of resource to overcome possible difficulties they might find during the completion of the task.

E-Skill: The group of abilities that encompass both top-down as well as bottom-up language processing in a digital learning environment and which are instrumental in the process of FL task resolution.

Computer Expertise: Refers to the mastering of the use of computers. In the context of CALL, this term is tightly connected to the abilities the students need to have in order to be able to work efficiently with a computer in the process of language learning. Among these abilities, taking the NETS project’s division, we can mention those related to the management of basic software, the use of computers in the personal and professional contexts, and the capability of using computers in instruction-related contexts.

Strategy: A plan designed to achieve a goal. Thus, in the context of second language learning, we can take the term strategy as a plan the students devise to solve the tasks and challenges they are presented in the process of language learning.

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Table of Contents
Norbert Pachler
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Rita de Cássia Veiga Marriott, Patricia Lupion Torres
Chapter 1
Pascual Pérez-Paredes, Maria Sánchez-Tornel
The research we report is a pilot study carried to test English as a Foreign Language (EFL) students’ reception of an electronic foreign language... Sample PDF
Understanding E-Skills in the FLT Context
Chapter 2
Antônio Carlos Soares Martins, Junia de Carvalho Fidelis Braga
The discussions presented herein emerged from two empirical studies in progress:“Online Learning Communities in the Realm of Complexity” and “The... Sample PDF
The Emergence of Social Presence in Learning Communities
Chapter 3
CALL as Action  (pages 39-52)
Vilson J. Leffa
The objective of this chapter is to offer a new approach for research in Computer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL). It starts with the assumption... Sample PDF
CALL as Action
Chapter 4
Vera Lucia Menezes de Oliveira e Paiva, Adail Sebastiao Rodrigues-Junior
This pedagogical and methodological chapter aims at contributing to increasing Web teachers’ awareness of the different ways teachers and students... Sample PDF
Investigating Interaction in an EFL Online Environment
Chapter 5
Euline Cutrim Schmid
This chapter discusses the concept of integrated CALL by drawing upon data collected for a PhD research project that investigated the impact of... Sample PDF
Interactive Whiteboards and the Normalization of CALL
Chapter 6
Alexandra Okada
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OpenLearn and Knowledge Maps for Language Learning
Chapter 7
Ria Hanewald
This chapter provides an overview of the field of digital objects and repositories. It introduces the concepts of digital objects and repositories... Sample PDF
Learning Objects: Projects, Potentials, and Pitfalls
Chapter 8
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This chapter presents the experience of production and use of learning objects (LOs) for English-language learning at the Pontificia Universidade... Sample PDF
English-Language Teaching with Learning Objects at PUCPR
Chapter 9
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Amusing Minds for Joyful Learning through E-Gaming
Chapter 10
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A Non-Language Learning Courseware and its Challenges
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The increasing importance of e-learning has been a boosting element for the emergence of Internet-based educational tools. As we move into the... Sample PDF
A Pliant-Based Software Tool for Courseware Development
Chapter 12
Aysegül Daloglu, Meltem Baturay, Soner Yildirim
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Designing a Constructivist Vocabulary Learning Material
Chapter 13
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A Lexical Study Based on Corpora, DDL, and Moodle
Chapter 14
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EFL through the Digital Glass of Corpus Linguistics
Chapter 15
Jing Wang
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Electronic Strategies to Improve Chinese Reading Skills
Chapter 16
Margaret Murphy, Cristina Poyatos Matas
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Politeness in Intercultural E-Mail Communication
Chapter 17
Neny Isharyanti
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Interactional Modifications in Internet Chatting
Chapter 18
Sedat Akayoglu, Arif Altun
This chapter aims at describing the patterns of negotiation of meaning functions in text-based synchronous computer-mediated communication by using... Sample PDF
The Functions of Negotiation of Meaning in Text-Based CMC
Chapter 19
Esrom Adriano Irala, Patrica Lupion Torres
This chapter belongs to the context of the computer-mediated communication (CMC) for language teaching and learning. Since the introduction of this... Sample PDF
The Use of the CMC Tool AMANDA in the Teaching of English
Chapter 20
Christine Rosalia, Lorena Llosa
This chapter reports on an instrument that was developed to formatively assess the quality of feedback that second language students give to one... Sample PDF
Assessing the Quality of Online Peer Feedback in L2 Writing
Chapter 21
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The Impact of Academic Podcasting on Students' Learning Outcomes
Chapter 22
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Listening Comprehension of Languages with Mobile Devices
Chapter 23
Huw Jarvis
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Computers and Independent Study: Student Perspectives
Chapter 24
Renata Chylinski, Ria Hanewald
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Creating Supportive Environments for CALL Teacher Autonomy
Chapter 25
Mar Gutiérrez-Colon Plana
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Frustration in Virtual Learning Environments
Chapter 26
Sarah Guth, Corrado Petrucco
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Social Software and Language Acquisition
Chapter 27
Bryan Carter, Dayton Elseth
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The Usefulness of Second Life for Language Learning
Chapter 28
Irene Mamakou
Interest in the integration of language learning with knowledge/content construction is growing around the world. In this line, an instructional... Sample PDF
Project-Based Instruction for ESP in Higher Education
Chapter 29
Ma Camino Bueno Alastuey
The adaptation to the European Space of Higher Education and to the new demands of the labor market has produced a shift in university education... Sample PDF
WebCT Design and Users' Perceptions in English for Agriculture
Chapter 30
Heli Simon, Päivö Laine, Ann Seppänen, Ana Barata, Carlos Vaz de Carvalho
This chapter presents the tutoring methodology adopted in an e-learning language course for students in vocational training and higher education as... Sample PDF
The LAFEC Experience for Language Skills Acquisition
Chapter 31
Christian Swertz, Rosa Schultz, Katharina Toifl
This chapter reports the concept development and evaluation results from the project LANCELOT (LANguage learning with CErtified Live Online... Sample PDF
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Chapter 32
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