The Affordances of Digital Social Reading for EFL Learners: An Ecological Perspective

The Affordances of Digital Social Reading for EFL Learners: An Ecological Perspective

Osman Solmaz (Dicle University, Turkey)
Copyright: © 2021 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/IJMBL.2021040103
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The goal of this study is to illustrate the affordances mediated by digital socio-literacy practices of university-level EFL learners engaging in collaborative reading of texts from an ecological perspective. For this purpose, a total of 38 first-year undergraduate students taking a compulsory EFL course in Turkey participated in the research. Data collected from learners' digital annotations on a digital annotation tool (DAT) and reflective papers were qualitatively analyzed. As a result, the construct of affordance was operationalized in an EFL digital social reading context through indicators derived from learners' annotations. The findings based on student-reported data showed that digital collaborative reading practices had contextual, social, and linguistic affordances for EFL learners. Following the discussion of the findings, the study invites future research to examine L2 learners' practices in a DAT-mediated environment in relation to affordances for specific language areas such as grammar and writing.
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Literature Review

The literature examining the impact of DATs in second language (L2) teaching and learning settings is in its infancy despite a growing interest in the subject in the last decade. Previous work in the field investigated the employment of collaborative annotation systems to enhance reading comprehension of EFL learners. In their preliminary work, Chang and Hsu (2011) analyzed the efficiency of a translation-annotation tool developed for a multi-functional handheld device and revealed that the tool contributed to students’ reading comprehension, and a majority of the students found the system beneficial for them. Their study also uncovered that students in groups of two, three, or four were more successful with respect to their level of reading comprehension compared to individual students or those grouped into fives. In another study, Lo, Yeh, and Sung (2013) compared learners’ level of recognizing paragraph elements and overall comprehension through an experimental design. The results illustrated that the experimental group, who employed the annotation tool, exhibited better performance in post-tests featuring both cued and free recall tests. Examining the annotation types of EFL students, Tseng, Yeh, and Yang (2015) found that learners frequently engaged in collaborative reading through four types of annotations including marking vocabulary, leaving notes for unknown vocabulary in native language (Chinese), marking text information, and adding summary notes to each paragraph. While the first two types facilitated learners’ lexical recognition and understanding, the other types of annotation fostered their reading comprehension.

In a series of recent research conducted by Yeh, Hung, and Chiang (2017) and Tseng and Yeh (2018), EFL learners’ reading comprehension was examined through the instructional framework of Reciprocal Teaching (RT), as part of which learners assumed teacher roles for a collaborative understanding of texts. Through pre- and post-reading comprehension tests in both studies, it was found that learners’ English reading comprehension developed following the intervention of DAT and students practicing RT strategies with the tool. In addition to the above-cited research which was exclusively conducted in East Asian contexts, Solmaz (2020) explored the implementation of a DAT (SocialBook) for second language socialization and development in an advanced EFL reading course in Turkish higher education context. The findings illustrated students’ successful socialization into a multitude of networks and genres by means of hybridized communicative practices in which they displayed both expert and novice performances while perceiving an achievement of development in reading, writing, and vocabulary.

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