[Su-IT570] Resources: A Constructivist Approach to Online Language Teaching and Learning

It has been widely accepted that communication skills are critical in second language acquisition. A constructivist approach is regarded as a powerful and effective tool to achieve the goal of enhancing learners’ communication skills. Furthermore, implementing current Internet technologies has been proved to be beneficial to effectively apply the constructivist approach in language learning.

1. Rüschoff, B., & Ritter, M. (2001). Technology-enhanced language learning: Construction of knowledge and template-based learning in the foreign language classroom. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 14(3-4), 219-232.  

When discussing the current state of the art with regard to the use of new technologies in the foreign language classroom, two issues tend to come up again and again. On the one hand, it cannot be denied that even today, in the so-called post-communicative era, the effects of traditional instructivist theories of language learning with their transmission-based modes of learning are still somewhat dominant, in particular at the grassroots level. This is all the more surprising, as a discussion of constructivism as an appropriate platform for new approaches to language learning and acquisition seems to have dominated the debate at least on a theoretical level in recent years. On the other hand, it is becoming more and more apparent that the available of¯ine and online software tools offer exciting opportunities for the language classroom that cannot be adequately attended to without calling the paradigm of instruction into question.

This paper is an attempt to contribute to the ongoing debate on this crucial issue by offering some key principles that move the discussion further in the direction of constructivist learning theories. A few of the theoretical issues discussed in Germany in the context of CALL and TELL are presented. New information and communication technologies will be touched upon, but the main focus will be an assessment of constructivism as the appropriate paradigm for language learning in the new millennium. In addition, the paper considers using Papert’s term constructionism as a basis for putting theory into practice and in order to keep separate the theoretical platform of such an approach and its practical implementation in the knowledge society. On a methodological level, construction of knowledge and information processing are regarded as key activities in language learning. In conclusion, template-based learning is discussed as a possible metaphor for the design of technology-enhanced learning materials for the next millennium aimed at providing learners with constructionist learning scenarios.

2. Can, T. (2009). Learning and teaching language online: A constructivist approach. Novitas-ROYAL, 3(1), 60-74.  

The recent advances in technology have necessitated first new approaches and then new methodologies in the area of foreign language learning and thoroughly teaching. The Internet and the virtual learning environments have diversified the opportunities for school teachers, instructional designers as well as learners by varying and broadening the alternatives for learning and teaching of languages. Employing tools and applications, other than classroom and course books, in the learning of foreign languages requires reconsidering the pedagogy, methodology, applications, teacher roles, interaction types, and teaching environment itself. And also multiple selections of channels, through which the teaching materials can be implemented mandate the revision of traditional one way communication between the teachers and the learners. An acknowledgement is brought about by the constructivist approach with its assumptions about learning and knowledge, multiple perspectives and modes of learning and the complexity of learning environments. Constructivist approach is promising at promoting learners’ language and communicative skills as well as at fostering their autonomy, social and interactive skills contributing to their development into more confident, pro-active and responsible individuals by supporting incentives on diverse media in language learning and teaching.

3. Swan, K., Garrison, D. R. & Richardson, J. C. (2009). A constructivist approach to online learning: the Community of Inquiry framework. In Payne, C. R. (Ed.) Information Technology and Constructivism in Higher Education: Progressive Learning Frameworks. Hershey, PA: IGI Global, 43-57.

This chapter presents a theoretical model of online learning, the Community of Inquiry (CoI) framework, which is grounded in John Dewey’s progressive understanding of education. The CoI framework is a process model of online learning which views the online educational experience as arising from the interaction of three presences – social presence, cognitive presence, and teaching presence.  Each of these three elements in the CoI model are described and related to Dewey’s work, and research findings and issues concerning them reviewed. The development of a common CoI survey measure that promises to address some of these issues is described and discussed.  The chapter concludes with emerging findings from new studies which use the CoI survey, directions for future research, and practical uses of the CoI model.

4. Carwile, J. (2007). A constructivist approach to online teaching and learning. Inquiry, 12(1), 68-73.

The author contends that using a learning-centered, or constructivist, approach in online courses is critical to student success.

5. Wang, Li. (2005). The advantages of using technology in second language education: technology integration in foreign language teaching demonstrates the shift from a behavioral to a constructivist learning approach. T.H.E. Journal, 32(10), 38-42.

The author contends that using a learning-centered, or constructivist, approach in online courses is critical to student success.

6. Gold, S. (2001). A constructivist approach to online training for online teachers. JALN, 5(1), 35-57.

This article examines the pedagogical role of the teacher in online education. Specifically, the transition from in-class room instruction to online instruction is a complex one involving specialized training in the technical aspects of delivering quality educational materials (or environments) to the students, and specialized training in how to foster knowledge acquisition within this new environment. The article focuses on the pedagogical training that an online instructor needs to become an effective teacher.

The article investigates a two-week faculty development pedagogical training course aimed at preparing teachers to operate effectively within an online educational environment. In attempting to orient the teacher to the online environment, the course used a constructivist instructional methodology within an online context. Several types of collaborative exercises were employed such as virtual field trips, online evaluations, interactive essays, and group projects.

7. Reyes, S. A., & Vallone, T. L. (2008). Constructivist strategies for teaching English language learners. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Vallone, T. L. (n.d.). A Constructivist Approach to Teaching English Language Learners.  

8. Constructivism – Learning and ID


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