Teaching Online: What Does Blended Learning Require?

Teaching Online: What Does Blended Learning Require?

P. Toyoko Kang (University of Guam, Guam)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-880-2.ch007


This chapter provides an argument endorsing blended learning and teaching for foreign language (FL)/second language (L2) courses, in lieu of total online learning and teaching or total face-to-face learning and teaching (FFLT). Two main arguments are posed, citing concrete examples. First, that in total online learning and teaching, one of the greatest challenges is to reduce the psychological and social distance between teacher and student that leads to a dysfunctional parser (a mental language processor) for FL/L2. And secondly, online learning and teaching encourage more input, hence clarify communication---by making not only currently incomprehensible input comprehensible but also hard-tobe-comprehended output easy-to-comprehend---- through “self-negotiation of form and meaning,” and the parser’s strategy of being “first (prosodic phrase) come, first interpreted/processed.” This chapter proceeds to strongly recommend that FL/L2 teachers make simple audio files to provide their students with spoken input to prevent students from employing the L1 strategy of “first come, last interpreted/ processed.” Furthermore, this chapter shows what kind of spoken input is to be recorded in audio files for students in Elementary Japanese II and Intermediate Japanese I.
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Researchers in the field of computer assisted language learning (CALL) like Hauck and Sticler (2006) and Colpaert (2006) raise an intriguing question: What does it take to teach online? Due to the fact that our main concern is not total online learning but blended learning (BL), this chapter modifies their question as follows: What does it take to teach online for BL? Omaggio (1984) opens her chapter with the following provocative question:

The question addressed in this chapter is as old as the language-teaching profession itself: How do we help students learning a second language classroom setting become proficient in that language? Historically, the responses to this question have been as varied as… those who have tried to answer it. (p. 43, the italic I mine)

It is not the purpose of the present chapter to tackle this question, but to make the question more specifically focus on the issues of input and output: How can we help students in a second language classroom setting make incomprehensible input comprehensible, and hard-to-be-comprehended output easy-to-comprehend, such that they eventually become proficient in that language? As this modified question indicates, this chapter’s answer to the question in the title “what does BL require (to make it work)?” is “to design an online FL/L2 learning & teaching in order to make not only currently incomprehensible input comprehensible, but also currently hard-to-be-comprehended output easy-to-be-comprehended.”

This chapter has two purposes. One is to argue that for FL/L2 classes, blended learning and teaching (BLT) are more effective than total online or totally face-to-face learning and teaching (FFLT). The other is to demonstrate simple ways of scaffolding students in the second and third semester of Japanese language courses, by making currently incomprehensible input more comprehensible, and hard-to-be-comprehended output easy to comprehend under a memory efficient approach (MEA) issuing from human parser learning theory (HPLT). Kang (2007a) has demonstrated how to blend technologies in an advanced Japanese class. The present chapter, however, shows how to blend online learning in Elementary Japanese II (JA102) and Intermediate Japanese I (JA201).

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