Opportunities for Engaging Young English Language Learners Through Technology Use

Opportunities for Engaging Young English Language Learners Through Technology Use

Joy Egbert (Washington State University, USA) and Reima Abobaker (Washington State University, USA)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 19
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3123-4.ch009

Abstract

There are still many aspects of language learning that are not well explained, but second language acquisition theories provide evidence for under what conditions language is learned. Key among these conditions is the opportunities that students have for input, output, social interaction, and feedback. Teachers have control over the types of opportunities that language learners have in their classrooms, and it is important that these opportunities are engaging so that learners take advantage of them and therefore learn. Technology, used to support engaging language tasks, can help this to happen. This chapter addresses the links between second language acquisition theory and engaging opportunities for young learners in language classrooms, and it explores uses of technology that can support both.
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Introduction

Although findings from brain research and other lines of second language acquisition (SLA) study are constantly adding to our understandings of language learning, we actually know relatively little about how the brain learns and processes language (Genessee, 2000; Sousa, 2011). We do know, however, under what conditions language is learned; therefore, from a pedagogical standpoint, Spolsky’s (1989) model of conditions for language learning is one of the most useful for classroom teachers. Spolsky notes that English language learner (ELL) outcomes are a result of the knowledge which with learners come to class, their innate abilities, their general motivation for studying English, plus the opportunities that learners have that support language learning, Teachers cannot affect learners’ previous knowledge or abilities, and they may not have a role in learner’s motivations, but they do have control over the types of language learning opportunities that learners have in their classrooms. However, if the role of teachers is not only to provide the opportunities noted in the SLA literature but to make sure that students learn by taking the opportunities offered, we need to look closely at what kinds of opportunities are most linked to student achievement. This chapter addresses the links between SLA theory and engaging opportunities for young learners in language classrooms, and it explores uses of technology that can support both. Because technology should be used in the service of other goals such as developing engaging tasks and meeting learning objectives, this chapter first describes how engaging tasks can be created and then suggests how technology might support them.

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