T-MALL-Integrated Model of Engagement for Student-Driven Learning

T-MALL-Integrated Model of Engagement for Student-Driven Learning

Cécile Gabarre (Universiti Putra Malaysia, Malaysia), Serge Gabarre (Universiti Putra Malaysia, Malaysia) and Rosseni Din (Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Malaysia)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 16
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-1689-7.ch016
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Abstract

Communications in the foreign language classroom are entangled in both the learners' cultural values and the target language's and hindered by the lack of naturalistic practice outside of the classroom (Crawford-Lange & Lange, 1987). This research is a qualitative action research which is situated within a longitudinal perspective with the aim of understanding the factors arising from the learning environment contributing to increase active engagement in the classroom. Malaysian undergraduates majoring in French as a foreign language are the sample to conduct this research as they faced motivational issues due to linguistic and cultural gap between their target and native languages. The t-MALL environment stimulated and sustained the students' engagement and the analysis of video recordings revealed marked improvements in spontaneous participations. The encouraging results in terms of students' engagement, coping strategies and proficiency achievements validated the fitness of t-MALL in enhancing the learning environment within the research context.
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Introduction

This research was conducted with Malaysian undergraduates majoring in French as a foreign language. The learners faced motivational issues due to the linguistic and cultural gap existing between the target language and their native languages aggravated by the lack of opportunities to practise outside the classroom (Arnold, 2006). In Malaysia’s multilingual society, most of the learners are at least bilinguals having acquired their native and second languages by conversing in a naturalistic environment in situations of immersion. However for the students who join the French Bachelor program as absolute beginners, the foreign language classroom anxiety factor defined in Horwitz (1995) strikes them when they realise the extent of knowledge they will need to master just to cover basic communication skills. Issues of language classroom anxiety syndrome are anchored in the students’ personalities, individual learning experiences and cultural beliefs. Authors such as Dewaele (2013) and Macintyre (2007) argued that instructors needed to create an engaging learning environment addressing self-motivational factors in order to foster participations. Similarly, in the Singaporean multicultural context, Wharton (2000) reported that a communicative task-based approach provided bilingual learners with ways to benchmark their progress and develop coping strategies.

As advocated by Dewaele (2013), an increase in engagement is desired to raise exposure and interactions in the target language. This qualitative action research is situated within a longitudinal perspective with the aim of understanding the factors arising from the learning environment contributing to such an increase. Interactions are governed by communications patterns and values which are difficult to master in foreign language courses due to the lack of naturalistic experience and practice outside the classroom (Crawford-Lange & Lange, 1987). Therefore, the development of pragmatic communicative competence requires a learning environment recreating the conditions of real-life situations in order to provide the learners with feedback on both their pragma-linguistic and socio-pragmatic communication skills (Celce-Murcia, 2007). Communications in the foreign language classroom are entangled in both the learners’ cultural values and the target language’s. However, the linguistic and cultural distances can be reduced with progressive exposure to authentic situations with appropriate instructor’s scaffolding (Gass, Mackey, & Ross-Feldman, 2005). Furthermore, simulations induce the students’ reflections on socially accepted and rejected behaviours in particular situations thus contributing to develop their cultural awareness and language adaptation skills (Chang, 2009).

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