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Title:Informal digital learning of English: The case of Korean university students
Author(s):Lee, Ju Seong
Director of Research:Dressman, Mark
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Dressman, Mark
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Sadler, Randall; Smith, Patrick; Oh, Eunjung Grace
Department / Program:Curriculum and Instruction
Discipline:Curriculum and Instruction
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Informal digital learning of English
English learning outcomes
Abstract:With a changing ecological environment of second language (L2) learning and teaching, as well as its huge potential for out-of-class L2 learning, an increasing number of Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) and Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) researchers and practitioners have become interested in ‘informal digital learning of English (IDLE)’ in various English as a foreign language (EFL) contexts. To date, however, it is still inconclusive whether or to what extent the quantity (frequency) and quality (diversity) of IDLE activities used by EFL students can contribute to English learning outcomes. Further, research on factors that influence the learners’ Willingness To Communicate (WTC) when engaging in IDLE activities has yet to be fully clarified by empirical research with L2 learners in EFL contexts. To address these research gaps, data were collected using mixed methods through a questionnaire, semi-structured interview and English learning outcomes from 77 Korean university students enrolled in 15 different EFL classes of three separate universities. This study found four key results: First, contrary to earlier findings, this study found that quantity of IDLE was not related to vocabulary scores. It suggested that the quality of IDLE was significantly, positively associated with vocabulary outcomes. Second, IDLE quantity was significantly correlated with affective variables (i.e., confidence, enjoyment and anxiety) and a standardized English test (i.e., TOEIC). In contrast, IDLE quality was significantly correlated with not only the affective variables and standardized English test but also productive language outcomes (i.e., speaking and productive vocabulary knowledge). Third, among the six English outcome variables investigated, enjoyment and anxiety were identified as significant predictors of IDLE quantity, whereas anxiety, speaking, and productive vocabulary knowledge were significant predictors of IDLE quality. Finally, sociopolitical variables (i.e., L2 communication practice and social anxiety), contextual variables (i.e., familiarity with interlocutors and communities), and an individual variable (i.e., L2 self-confidence) are major sources of influence on participants’ L2 WTC. Additionally, these five variables interplayed simultaneously during L2 communication in the IDLE context. Four individual cases were also provided as evidence of these statistical findings and capture an overview of the breadth and depth of Korean EFL university students’ engagement with IDLE activities. These results lead us to the conclusion that the frequent engagement in IDLE activities may not automatically guarantee successful L2 vocabulary gains. Rather, engagement with varied types of IDLE activities that combines both form- and meaning-focused language learning is essential for achieving L2 vocabulary acquisition. Additionally, we can gain more in-depth insights into how IDLE quantity and quality can make a unique contribution to EFL learners’ overall English outcomes and determine how educational stakeholders (e.g., institutions, teachers, and parents) can help.
Issue Date:2018-04-20
Rights Information:Copyright 2018 Ju Seong Lee
Date Available in IDEALS:2018-09-04
Date Deposited:2018-05

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