An Investigation into Chinese College English Teachers' Beliefs of Students' Web-based Informal Language Learning

An Investigation into Chinese College English Teachers' Beliefs of Students' Web-based Informal Language Learning

Jiahong Jiang (Anqing Normal University, Anqing, China)
DOI: 10.4018/IJICTE.2016070103
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Abstract

With the rapid development of information and technology, language learners have more ways to acquire the target language. Recently, WILL has gained popularity, for informal web-based learning of English has been depicted as a process driven by the purpose of communication. Thus, teachers have many challenges when teaching learners who have experienced informal online language learning. Therefore, teachers may change their teaching strategies in order to achieve their teaching effectiveness. The present study investigated 30 Chinese in-service college English teachers' beliefs of WILL in order to provide for teachers the insight into the current consciousness language teachers should have of these practices.
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Literature Review

As defined by Benson (2001), Web-based Informal English Learning (WIEL) is a certain sub-group of language learning out of class, which focuses specifically on the informal and web-based components of out-of-class language learning. It is closely related with “self-regulated out-of-class language learning with technology” (Lai & Gu 2011: 317). Another distinctive feature of WIEL is its incidental rather than deliberate nature, that is, the purpose of learners’ learning activities is primarily for entertainment, getting information, etc. in addition to language acquisition (Toffoli & Sockett, 2010), whereas learners’ out-of class language learning has deliberate intentions to improve their English (Benson, 2006; Larsen & Cameron, 2007). Meanwhile, learners’ learning activities undoubtedly influence their acquisition of the target language. (Krashen & Terrell, 1983)

Toffoli and Sockett’s (2010) made a survey of 222 French non-English majors practicing informal learning of English. They found that the most prevailing learning activities among these students’ are listening to English music accompanied by lyrics and watching American series. What’s more, these students have more English listening practice than reading practice and they are actively involved in interactive online writing, such as participating in forum discussions, sending English instant messages or e-mails and so on.

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