Volume 02 - Issue 1

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    Using Instagram for language learning
    (University of Hawaii National Foreign Language Resource Center, 2021-10-01) Wagner, Keith
    As a corpus of multimodal microblogs, Instagram is a useful language learning tool. The app abounds with authentic L2 content and allows for language learning outside of the classroom. This report proposes systematic methods for learners to cultivate multilingualism on Instagram. The multimodal literacy techniques I outline cater to Instagram posts as a specific genre, and I use example posts in a variety of languages to illustrate different learning processes, relying on multiliteracies pedagogy as a theoretical lens. My discussion also makes use of Instagram’s hashtag and geotag search functions as well as its automatic translation feature to demonstrate ways of finding L2 content and critically assessing machine translation output. This report is intended both for L2 learners who want to advance language goals using social media and for specialists in postsecondary language teaching, research, and program direction who are interested in Instagram’s offerings as a mobile-assisted language learning (MALL) resource. Language educators can use the ideas I present as groundwork for introducing students to MALL and multimodal literacy simultaneously. From there, educators can either create in-class activities with pedagogical scaffolding or encourage students to work independently with Instagram outside the classroom.
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    Developing transferable writing skills through manga
    (University of Hawaii National Foreign Language Resource Center, 2021-10-01) Yasuta, Takako ; Blake, John
    This article describes how Japanese undergraduates developed transferable writing skills using manga, or Japanese comics. All learners in Japan have some familiarity with manga. In this project, learners created a manga for a local business to promote their product or service to non-Japanese customers. This project therefore not only benefits the learners but may also benefit the local community. Learners gathered or created information, sequenced the information, developed a story, and conformed to strict guidelines regarding copyright, content, layout, and format. The language features of manga were explored using guided discourse analysis, enabling learners to identify role language—that is, the linguistic features associated with a particular character. Learners then established role language for their manga characters and used the best matching expressions and sentence patterns in their speech. This novel approach is enjoyable, motivating and produces tangible outputs that can be shared online or in print. A critical reflection on the theoretical underpinnings provides evidence in support of this approach. Through writing manga, learners improved their awareness of register. Samples of student-created work show how learners co-constructed their text with envisaged audiences and created persuasive narratives. In the present report, we share practical tips on adopting this approach and avoiding potential problems.
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    Fulfilling a wish list: Creating an OER beginning Spanish textbook and curriculum
    (University of Hawaii National Foreign Language Resource Center, 2021-10-01) Ceciliano, Jenny ; Notman, Lisa
    This report discusses the experience of creating and implementing a new open educational resource (OER) first-year Spanish textbook and curriculum at Portland State University in Portland, Oregon. The project began with a long wish list of features. We hoped for a program that would be structured enough to support graduate teaching assistants with little teaching experience, but flexible enough for experienced instructors to make adjustments based on their own expertise, current events, or their unique group of students. We wanted the program to be inclusive and centered on diverse, authentic voices. We wanted to focus on topics that would be interesting and motivating to adult students living in and around Portland, Oregon. We wanted the program to be attentive to theories of second language acquisition and adult education, and we needed it to be free for students. Research, preparation, and writing of the textbook began in late 2018, and implementation began at Portland State University in the fall term of 2019. As we prepare for wider release, we would like to share our experiences with developing our OER textbook and program, the challenges and successes we have encountered, and our continuing goals for the project.
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    Toward inclusive and relevant second language education for Black students
    (University of Hawaii National Foreign Language Resource Center, 2021-10-01) Zárate-Sández, Germán
    In this report, I describe the research and curricular changes I am implementing to deal with issues of inequity encountered by Black students in the Spanish program I direct at Western Michigan University. In the first stage, a comprehensive analysis of student demographics, enrollment, and academic performance over six years revealed that Black and African American students begin Spanish education at high rates but are less likely to advance to courses beyond second-year Spanish and more likely to obtain lower final grades than other groups. These findings are consistent with literature showing similar patterns of participation and achievement among Black students in language learning across secondary and higher education. Following methodologies used in previous studies, the second phase of the project consists of a comprehensive needs analysis composed of surveys, interviews, and class observations aimed at better understanding Black students’ experiences and needs in my department’s Spanish program. Based on results from the needs analysis, the last part of the project will educate personnel in the program on issues of equity and diversity and will implement changes in the curriculum to make our Spanish courses more relevant for Black students.
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    Down the rabbit hole: Machine translation, metaphor, and instructor identity and agency
    (University of Hawaii National Foreign Language Resource Center, 2021-10-01) Vinall, Kimberly ; Hellmich, Emily A.
    While machine translation (MT) technologies have improved in profile and performance in recent years, there is still much to learn about the broad impact of these technologies on language educators. In this article, we investigate interactions between instructors’ beliefs about MT and their identity and agency in the language classroom through the lens of metaphor. Anchored in an ecological theoretical frame, the study examines in-depth interviews with 11 participants using open and inductive qualitative coding. Findings reveal that, to varying degrees and with differing outcomes, all the participants reported that MT had altered their roles and practices in the classroom. These were expressed through a range of metaphors (e.g., MT as a “crutch,” MT as a “bridge,” MT as a “prosthetic hand”). The cross-case analysis of these metaphors revealed three primary relationships between instructors, MT, and FL teaching/learning across participants: a) MT as destructive, b) MT as supportive, and c) MT as transformative. After chronicling these metaphors and relationships in detail, the article concludes with a discussion of major tensions evoked by the findings and their implications for language education at the postsecondary level.
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    Exploring tutoring and learning gains for learners of Arabic
    (University of Hawaii National Foreign Language Resource Center, 2021-10-01) Amer, Mahmoud
    The present study examined the link between tutoring sessions and students’ learning of Arabic. The language tutor in this study spent one semester with a beginner level class of Modern Standard Arabic (MSA). Tutoring logs following each session were used to explore the extent to which these sessions could be linked to learners’ performance in the class. Findings showed a positive and significant, albeit moderate, correlation between the number of tutoring sessions each student attended and their final grade. The analysis of the logs (n = 174) also showed that vocabulary usage, pronunciation, reading, and grammar were the most frequently requested topics during the tutoring sessions. Additionally, the logs showed that students sought tutoring around exam times. These findings offer various ways to reflect on how students utilize language learning resources, including interactions with a native-speaking tutor.
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    Becoming a legitimate L2 speaker: The role of non-traditional speaker models
    (University of Hawaii National Foreign Language Resource Center, 2021-10-01) Rilliard, Marylise
    Based on a multiliteracies-inspired and sociolinguistically informed advanced French composition class, this study employed autobiographical narratives from speakers that were traditionally considered non-legitimate models for L2 teaching purposes; these autobiographical narratives were used to inspire students to develop an authentic L2 voice and to see themselves as legitimate L2 speakers. Students explored their L2 identities in French through a self-inspired fictional character, using as guides two autobiographical narratives of identity quest by non-traditional French speakers: the novel Le bleu des abeilles (2013) by Laura Alcoba and the film Qu’Allah bénisse la France (2014) by Abd Al Malik. Written and oral French productions for different genres, as well as metalinguistic reflections in English were collected and analyzed. Results indicate that ideas and materials that were relatable to students—namely, relatable experiences and language—were most useful to them in developing their L2 voice and achieving authentic and legitimate L2 speakership. These results point toward the benefits of using non-traditional speaker models, as they serve to legitimize students’ sense of their own L2 speakership, which could ultimately lead them toward a better, more informed grasp of the language.
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    Engaging native speakers in language scaffolding in a Chinese classroom
    (University of Hawaii National Foreign Language Resource Center, 2021-10-01) Kong, Kaishan
    The study reported in this article was carried out in a Chinese language class at the college level to explore the benefits and challenges of language scaffolding through interactions between pairs consisting of a Chinese as a Foreign Language (CFL) learner and a Chinese Native Speaker (CNS). The CNSs were international students on campus. CNS and CFL learners formed tandem learning dyads to support each other’s language and exchange cultural knowledge on given topics. Data included students' discussions, writing samples, and reflective interviews. Research findings revealed that the CNS provided corrective feedback through various strategies and that the CFL learner’s Chinese was improved through language correction and language expansion. However, a number of challenges emerged for future improvement, including a lack of training on providing corrective feedback, unstable partnerships, and time constraints. This article includes suggestions for language program directors and instructors as they consider how to include their international student body in curriculum design.
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    Language learners read comics: Background knowledge and perceptions of multimodal texts
    (University of Hawaii National Foreign Language Resource Center, 2021-10-01) Benjamin, John D.
    When didacticizing a comics text for L2 instruction, teachers consider its content and appeal, potential difficulties in language and form, possible tasks and activities, and finally, ways comics can support existing instructional materials, especially the more traditional texts that have long constituted L2 curricula. What is lacking, however, are data on the background knowledge of form and content learners bring to comics texts in the classroom. Without this evidence, teachers are left to make assumptions about what needs to be explicitly taught and scaffolded in guiding learner comprehension of comics. To investigate learner background knowledge of comics and comics reading, this article presents a questionnaire study focusing on L2 learners’ previous reading experiences, knowledge, and views. It asks advanced university L2 German learners (n = 26) about their comics knowledge in terms of characters, form, plot, and themes to determine whether they possess the necessary schematic background knowledge for reading. It further studies whether learners consider comics as literature and if they regard the reading of these texts as an effective task in language courses. The results provide insight into L2 learners’ comics knowledge for instructors and comics scholars as well as a model for approaching other multimodal texts in L2 instruction.
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    Project-based learning and the development of translingual/transcultural subjectivities: Case studies from the Italian classroom
    (University of Hawaii National Foreign Language Resource Center, 2021-10-01) Gaspar, Borbala ; Warner, Chantelle
    Contemporary approaches to second language and culture education often emphasize the importance of meaningful experiences, which in the case of instructed language learning, has prompted interest in pedagogies that allow learners to engage with acts of doing and creating that go beyond language practice. Project-based learning, which gives learners opportunities to solve a problem or develop a product relatively autonomously, remains one of the main models for what this can look like in the classroom. Some recent studies have suggested that project-based pedagogies coupled with literacy-oriented approaches can also foster learners’ awareness of discourse and how language choices index identities within a given community (e.g., Michelson, 2019). This study contributes to these conversations by exploring how project-based learning coupled with ideas from contemporary literacy studies can engage a range of multisensory meaning-making resources, which afford learners rich opportunities to experiment with their own positions vis-a-vis aspects of the language and culture they are studying. Based on three case studies from an intermediate Italian class, the article shows how some students worked within and beyond the parameters of the project—a multi-week research project on a cultural topic of the students’ choosing—to fashion for themselves translingual and transcultural subjectivities (Kramsch, 2009), with personal relationships to the Italian language and culture. The article concludes with implications for project-based pedagogies that approach literacy as lived experience that goes beyond texts, as well as for future research that considers literacy activities as multisensory.