Developing L2 Strategic Competence Online

Developing L2 Strategic Competence Online

Claudia Finkbeiner (University of Kassel, Germany) and Markus Knierim (University of Kassel, Germany)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-895-6.ch022
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Research on CALL environments that explicitly focuses on the development of strategic competence is almost non-existent. This chapter reports on an exploratory study which was conducted as a semesterlong, Web-based project to facilitate the development of L2 strategic competence by means of online collaboration among advanced EFL (English as a foreign language) learners who are students in an EFL teacher education program at a German university. The project—called the “Online Learner ABCs”—combines an autobiographic approach to raise the learners’ awareness of their own strategy use with data-driven activities to foster diagnostic skills with regard to strategy use. Overall, the “Online Learner ABCs” was found to be conducive to the students’ development of L2 strategic competence, in particular by raising the students’ awareness of a considerable number of language learning strategies. Deep-level reflections on strategy use, however, remained scant, indicating that further instructional fine-tuning is needed.

Key Terms in this Chapter

The ABCs Model of Intercultural Understanding and Communication: (Schmidt, 1998; Schmidt & Finkbeiner, 2006): Aims at exploring cultural and intercultural differences through a three-step process involving two individuals from different cultural backgrounds. The three steps are: (1) A: writing an autobiography about yourself (which is not shared with the partner), (2) B: interviewing the partner to write a biography about him or her, (3) C: comparing the autobiography of oneself with the biography about the partner (and, optionally, the partner’s biography about oneself) to explore cultural differences and similarities as well as self- and other-perception.

Strategic Competence: Seen as the capacity that relates language competence, or knowledge of language, to the language user’s knowledge structures and the features of the context in which communication and language learning takes place. Strategic competence performs assessment, planning, and execution functions in determining the most effective means of achieving a communicative or language learning goal. It connects declarative, procedural, and conditional knowledge. (adapted from Bachman, 1990, p. 107).

Computer-As-Tutor vs. Computer-As-Tool CALL: “With a CALL tutor, a computer program analyzes and evaluates an individual learner’s response to a question, and provides feedback on it” (Levy & Stockwell, 2006, p. 22) whereas “with computer tools the role of the technology is best described as an ‘enabling’ device” (Levy & Stockwell, 2006, p. 24).

Intelligent CALL (ICALL): Intelligent CALL denotes the use of artificial intelligence in the development of CALL materials, for example, to create intelligent tutoring systems which are capable of processing and giving feedback on free language input.

LMRplus Model: In the LMRplus model, L stands for learner, M for moderator, and R for researcher. The model focuses on “cooperation and collaboration among the changing roles of teacher and learner and researcher” (Finkbeiner, 2004, p. 114) as well as the different sets of competencies that one needs for each of these roles.

Language Learning Strategy: A “specific plan, action, behavior, step, or technique that individual learners use, with some degree of consciousness, to improve their progress in developing skills in a second or foreign language” (Oxford & Schramm, 2007, pp. 47-48). These plans, actions, behaviors, and so on, can be placed on three continua, ranging from conscious to unconscious, from explicit to implicit, and from observable to non-observable (Finkbeiner, 1998, 2005). Furthermore, learning strategies can be categorized into major groups, for example, by distinguishing cognitive, metacognitive, and social and affective strategies (O’Malley & Chamot, 1990).

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