Integrating Chinese Community into Canadian Society: Podcasts, Technology Apprehension, and Language Learning

Integrating Chinese Community into Canadian Society: Podcasts, Technology Apprehension, and Language Learning

Yuping Mao (Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands), Martin Guardado (University of Alberta, Canada) and Kevin R. Meyer (Illinois State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6042-7.ch077
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Abstract

The use of podcasting technology in language learning presents a unique set of challenges and holds a great deal of promise for digital natives as well as for newcomers to technology. The literature on podcasts in learning mainly focuses on student experiences in formal educational settings, while questions related to nontraditional students in freely-available language programs provided by non-profit organizations remain unexplored. Taking a case study approach, this research examines how podcasting enhances the English learning experiences of students in an English as a Second Language (ESL) course offered by a non-profit organization that provides community services to immigrants in Canada. This chapter discusses instructional and organizational benefits as well as the challenges of applying podcasts in language training. By triangulating the experiences of the students, instructor, and program coordinators, we are able to examine the effectiveness of such a program and offer recommendations for similar programs in the future.
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Background

Technology and Language Learning

Although podcasting is a relatively new technology, the use of computer technologies has a relatively long tradition in education (Collis & Moonen, 2001), including language education. Computer-Assisted Language Learning dates back to the early 1960s when simple repetition exercises were used in language education (Levy, 1997) as a direct result of behaviorism. In the 1970s and 1980s Computer-Assisted Language Learning attempted to follow the communicative approach, albeit without success (Bax, 2003). “Integrative Computer-Assisted Language Learning” (Warschauer & Healey, 1998), which originated in the 1990s and is still prevalent today (Ranalli, 2008), endeavored to include cultural contexts and to foster social interaction. These changes are the result of two forces: the rapid evolution of techology and the shifts in language acquisition theory. Meaningful social interaction (e.g., Long & Crookes, 1992) underpins current theories of language acquisition; therefore, this project adds to the extant body of research on the use of computer and online technologies in language acquisition by providing a contextualized understanding of an accessible learning tool, podcasting, and investigating its pedagogical feasibility for increasing student participation and interaction.

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