Keynote 1: Geoffrey Sockett
The Online Informal Learning of English: Challenges to learning theory and teaching practice
As the internet has allowed second language learners and users around the world to gain access to online contents and interactions in their target languages over the past 10 years, the field of informal learning has become a matter of increasing interest for researchers in SLA. Target language audiovisual materials which were once only found in learning centre cupboards are now freely available online and target language interactions which once required international travel are now a day to day part of social networking.
Drawing on his own and other relevant research into this area, Prof. Geoff Sockett will give an overview of the key questions in this emerging field. Most existing studies have generally confirmed that the basket of activities we refer to as OILE or IDLE or EE are widely practiced and often have a positive impact on language acquisition. Among the fundamental questions to be addressed in the field today is whether these activities are undertaken with the intention of learning the language, or whether language acquisition in these contexts is just a by-product of a range of leisure activities. Most of Prof. Sockett’s work has focused on the latter hypothesis. In the former case, we are exploring a new set of parameters in the field of learner autonomy. In the latter case we require a theoretical framework to determine what kind of attention is necessary for acquisition to take place and whether particular learner profiles are more likely to benefit from these activities.
The specific issue addressed at this seminar is that of the integration of informal practices into formal contexts, in other words, if learners are spending tens of hours per week in contact with the target language (which, in most studies, is English), what does this mean for classroom practice? In some ways this is the least important question we could ask about informal learning since the number of classroom hours of many learners is dwarfed by their exposure time to English language media and social networking. Indeed OILE takes place extensively amongst people who do not attend English classes at all. In other ways, it is also the key question for language educators who are faced with an unprecedented opportunity to be relevant to learners who may perceive their formal and informal activities as unconnected phenomena.
Prof. Sockett will conclude by looking at examples of online courses currently being piloted in Paris which draw on a view of students today as fledgling language users and seek to implement bridging activities between the formal and informal worlds.
Geoff Sockett is Professor of Linguistics at Paris Descartes University, where he currently also serves as Vice President for International Relations. He has previously directed a Master’s programme in Web design for language learning at the University of Strasbourg. His research interests focus on the Online Informal Learning of English, which is also the title of his 2014 book on the subject. He is currently involved in the piloting of online English courses based on contents drawn from the informal sphere.
Keynote 2: Meryl Kusyk
The dynamics of L2 English development through participation in online informal activities
The online informal learning of English (OILE) is a field of research that investigates the ways in which non-native English speakers interact in and with the L2 in an informal, online context (reading, watching, listening, chatting, playing), as well as the impact that these interactions may have on speakers’ L2 development (Toffoli and Sockett, 2010; Sockett, 2014). This talk provides a detailed discussion of the field of OILE and reports on a study of university students’ long-term L2 development through participation in informal activities. The data discussed include a questionnaire (n=953) of French and German university students’ informal online practices and two individual case studies. Results from the questionnaire indicate that large percentages of the sample participate regularly in OILE activities such as listening to music, reading and watching television series. The case studies track subjects’ L2 development over 10 months, using chunks, complexity, accuracy and fluency as measures of linguistic change. In line with the dynamic systems approach, individual development is highly variable and each case constructs his/her own authentic and unique OILE-user profile. The conclusion of this talk focuses on methodological issues relevant for OILE researchers and looks ahead to ideas for future studies.
Meryl Kusyk is a research associate and lecturer of applied linguistics at the Karlsruhe University of Education. Her primary research interests are language learning and technology as well as informal language learning. She has published several journal and book chapters in these fields and co-edited the book Digital Environments and Foreign Language Interaction: Formal and Informal Learning in Real and Virtual Worlds.
Keynote 3: Liss Kerstin Sylvén
The wealth of learning opportunities provided by extramural L2/FL exposure, and the role of context
In recent years, there has been growing interest from researchers in the potential of learners’ language related activities for L2/FL learning outside of the educational context (Benson & Reinders, 2011; Chik, 2013; d’Ydewalle & Pavakanun, 1997; Gee, 2007; Olsson, 2016; Peterson, 2012; Rankin, McNeal, Shute, & Gooch, 2008; Reinders, 2012; Sauro, 2017; Sundqvist, 2009; Sundqvist & Sylvén, 2012; Sylvén & Sundqvist, 2012; Thorne, Black, & Sykes, 2009; Webb & Rodgers, 2009). Drawing on such studies, Professor Sylvén will argue for the wealth of learning opportunities provided by extramural L2/FL exposure, in particular exposure to English. Examples of extramural activities will be given, and based on scientific evidence, the pros and possible cons of various such activities will be considered. Professor Sylvén will also discuss the possibility of making use of these activities ‘intramurally’, i.e. inside the classroom. Finally, the talk will problematise the role played by the context in which the L2/FL learner is situated.
Liss Kerstin Sylvén is professor of Language Education at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. Her main research interests are exposure to extramural L2/FL English and its effects on language learning, and various aspects of Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL). She has published in journals such as International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, Journal of Immersion and Content-Based Language Education, Studies in Second Language Learning and Teaching, The Language Learning Journal, ReCALL and CALICO Journal. Recently, the book Extramural English in Teaching and Learning. From Theory and Research to Practice, which Sylvén has co-authored together with Dr Pia Sundqvist, was published by Palgrave Macmillan.
Keynote 4: Huw Jarvis
Using technology beyond the classroom: Insights from learners
Huw will begin his talk with a brief outline of the well-established traditional links between learner autonomy and computer or mobile assisted language learning (CALL\MALL). He will then report on a series of studies which investigated what adult English L2 students in The UK, The UAE and Thailand do with technology outside of classroom and what it means to them. He will argue that these studies and others, together with technological advances, bring into question established thinking on CALL\MALL and independent learning. The talk will then go on discuss the implications of digital residence in English as an L2 for informal learning and to suggest that a post CALL\MALL era of mobile assisted language use (MALU) is more appropriate for describing and investigating practice. Finally, Huw will briefly compare and contrast a traditional presentation-practice-production (PPP) and CALL\MALL with an alternative task-based approach and MALU.
Huw Jarvis has 34 years of experience in language education as a teacher, teacher educator and researcher. He has skills and expertise in a number of areas but his two niche specialisms comprise a post Computer\Mobile Assisted Language Learning (CALL\MALL) era of Mobile Assisted Language Use (MALU) and Social Media for Continuing Professional Development (CPD) in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). He has published widely and delivered many plenary talks on MALU and has recently worked with Stephen Krashen, Rod Ellis in this area. His CPD work draws on his 8 years of experience as the founder and editor of www.TESOLacademic.org which he has taken from a Web 1 dissemination-based platform of video talks to a Web 2 interactive-based resource with unrivalled outreach via: a Facebook group of over 10,000 members; a Twitter feed with almost over 3,000 followers; a YouTube channel with over 70 talks and 38,500 views in the last year; and a LinkedIn outlet for professional networking. Huw has recently taken early retirement as a Senior Lecturer in TESOL, but his work in language education very much continues.
A summary of his work is available from: http://www.tesolacademic.org/huwjarviseditor.htm