Improving the management of flow of control in computer-assisted listening comprehension tasks for second and foreign language learners
MetadataShow full item record
The aim of this project is to conceptualise, develop and realise an appropriate instructional design model for a humanistic integrated multimedia Computer-Enhanced Language Learning (CELL) package for self-access language learning. Previous language learning software programs have typically been technology-driven or pedagogy-driven rather than learner- or learning-driven. As a result, many of the programs currently available or under development are not compatible with modern principles of communicative or learner-centred language learning. Although one of the oft-cited advantages of learning using computer technology is that learners can work at their own pace and in their own time, many software programs fail to take full advantage of the technology in the design of the flow of control between lessons, help, feedback, and learners. In a self-access program in particular, it is important that learners understand how to learn autonomously, and that they know how to use the software program effectively. In order to develop a program which helps learners towards autonomous learning, the design process needs to focus on the needs and characteristics of learners, principles of learner-centredness, appropriate strategies for effective autonomous learning, and how these relate together. The approach taken in the overall design process is a sociocultural one, modelled on Vygotskian (1978) principles, with the software program and learning materials filling the role of mediators in the language learning process. The flow of control in the CELL package based on these principles is flexible enough to allow autonomous learners to control the order, pace, level, and material which they access, as well as providing flexible modes of interaction. This flexibility is necessary to cater for individual differences in learning styles, including preferred channels of sensory perception and cognitive processing. Since many users of language learning software are computer novices, the interface to the software needs to be easy to navigate. The listening and viewing tasks forming the CELL software package realised in this work are designed to minimise the cognitive or response demands being made on learners until they have more confidence, or until they are more proficient in the language being learnt. The package which should be regarded as a ‘proof of concept’, provides learners, at whatever level of second language proficiency, with the means of gaining access to meaning through the medium of authentic video material. This is achieved by adjusting the task demands according to a hierarchic taxonomy, to accommodate the difficulty of the material. Information on effective language learning strategies is incorporated into the package, while the use of these strategies is demonstrated and practised through the listening and viewing comprehension tasks themselves. This project therefore brings together the theories and research findings from disparate disciplines to produce an instructional design model for a multimedia software package for second language learning. After surveying and examining the findings from these areas, it is concluded that a sociocultural approach to language learning is compatible with principles of Computer Enhanced Language Learning. A multimedia software program model designed for self-access use based on these principles, together with those of autonomous language learning and awareness-raising in appropriate strategy use, is proposed. The prototype multimedia program which exemplifies the instructional design principles derived from the previous examination is then presented. Information collected using this prototype as a tool can be analysed to provide us with useful information on how learners interact with the multimedia language learning program, the choices they make, and the use they make of the help and exploration tools incorporated into the program. This information will assist researchers in the task of evaluating the advantages and disadvantages of specific aspects and components of the program in order to determine those characteristics of a multimedia language program that promote optimal learning in a Computer-Enhanced Language Learning environment.