EFL: Computer-Assisted Reading Instruction University .EFL: Computer-Assisted ... (EFL) reading classroom

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    EFL: Computer-Assisted Reading Instruction

    University of Sydney

    Kang-Mi Lim

    Abstract

    This study examined the impact of Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) on

    Korean TAFE college students in an English as a Foreign Language (EFL) reading

    classroom in terms of their perceptions of learning effectiveness, tutor, classroom interest

    and difficulty. This study compared CALL and traditional reading classes over one

    semester. A group of 74 first year English majors students were divided evenly into 2

    classes. Both groups were taught by the same teacher and covered the same topics in their

    weekly two-hour reading lesson. A written survey was also administered at the end of the

    semester. Group interviews supplemented the data obtained from the surveys. The

    questionnaires were analyzed by a principle component factor analysis, a repeated-

    measure ANOVA and a discriminant analysis whereas the interview with teacher and

    students were analyzed by a content analysis. Most students in the CALL class showed

    positive responses. Students in CALL-based English class perceived their learning

    environment offered ample opportunities for collaboration and mutual support, as well as

    for exposure to, and interaction with, a variety of interesting, enjoyable and useful

    materials and tasks.

    INTORODUCTION

    In recent years, there has been much research about various aspects of teaching and learning a

    second language. One of the most significant recent developments impacting on teachers and

    learners in language education programs is educational technology, in particular the use of the

    computer in the language classroom (Warschauer, 2000; Chapelle, 2000; Levy, 2000). With the

    government of South Korea promoting globalization since 1997, both information technology and

    English language education have developed rapidly (Kim, 2000). Information technology and

    communicative competence in English have become central to the move towards globalization,

    and the number of English learners and teachers using computers has increased significantly in

    recent years (Kwak, 2001).

    One of the areas of most rapid expansion in English language education in Korea is Computer

    Assisted Language Learning (CALL). The range of possibilities in CALL has become wider than

    ever before, with the technology related to computers and networks developing at a tremendous

    pace. The use of CALL in English teaching and learning is now very diverse, including the use of

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    multimedia-based CD ROMs, E-mail and the Internet, as well as more traditional word

    processing and instructional software.

    Research in the field of computer-assisted language learning has certainly developed in the last 20

    years (Warschauer, 1996, 2000; Chapelle, 1998, 2000; Levy, 2000, 1997; Chapelle, &

    Hegelheimer, 2000; Kern, 1995; Sullivan & Pratt, 1996; Dunkel, 1991). However, there appears

    to have been few studies of the issues, problems, and potential solutions relating to the impact of

    computers on English language teaching and learning within a Korean context, particularly in a

    reading classroom.

    The primary aim of this study is to investigate how CALL can be effectively integrated into

    learning of English reading in a Korean context, and to consider some of the advantages,

    disadvantages and problems arising from the use of CALL in learning English.

    The secondary aim is to examine the similarities and differences between the traditional English

    class and the CALL based English class in the Korean context through the reading class in terms

    of classroom effectiveness, interest, tutor and classroom difficulty. The implications of these

    similarities and differences will be investigated in order to assess the impact of computers at the

    college level English as Foreign Language (EFL) classes in Korea. The research questions are as

    follows:

    1 To what extent is CALL-based learning (dis)-similar to traditional English learning in the English

    reading class of Korean College context?

    2 In what ways do these differences impact on Korean EFL students learning of English?

    METHOD

    Research Design

    This study compared the CALL and traditional reading class over one semester in terms of

    perception of learning environment. The two classes were taught by the same teacher. Both

    classes had a two-hour reading lesson per week covering the same topic. The same textbooks

    were used for the first session. However, during the second session, one class learnt English

    reading using the computer, while the other class learnt English reading continuing to use the

    same text that was used in the first session.

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    The same instruments were used for the two classes, which enabled comparison of the CALL and

    traditional reading class. The written survey was administered at the end of the semester. In

    addition, group interviews with students from the two different classes, and with the teacher, were

    conducted to supplement the data obtained from the surveys.

    Students

    The subjects for this study were 74 first year English majors from one college of technology in

    Korea. They were allocated randomly to two classes of 37 students, where one was the CALL

    based English reading class and the other was a traditional English reading class.

    All of students both in the traditional English classroom and CALL based English classroom were

    in their 20s, and their mean age was 21.5 years in the traditional class and 21.0 years in the

    CALL based class. According to sources from the school, all students were high school graduates.

    In addition, the female students outnumber male students both in the traditional English class and

    the CALL based English class.

    There are no significant differences between the traditional English class and CALL based

    English class in terms of their age (t= 0.835, p= 0.408 ), gender [Class (2) by Sex (2) contingency

    table Chi 2

    = 0.939)] and their education background, and this indicates that the two groups are

    very similar. Therefore, it was concluded that comparisons could be made between the traditional

    English class and CALL based English class.

    RESULT

    All data collected were systematically entered into a computer for quantitative and qualitative

    analyses. Quantitative data were arranged into spreadsheets, and later analysed using the

    Statistical Package for the Social Science (SPSS), version 11.5.

    Recorded interviews were transcribed. Qualitative data, including focus-group interview

    transcripts and open-ended items included in the surveys, were subjected to content analysis, in

    order to identify emerging themes and trends.

    The questionnaire

    There were four factors extracted from the Survey by a principle component factor analysis and a

    repeated measures ANOVA were used to examine statically factor score differences between the

    two methods of instruction (classes). Consequently, the two methods of instruction (Classes) were

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    compared in terms of the factor scores and then a discriminant analysis detected three items

    which best differentiated the two classes.

    Description of Extracted Factors: Quantitative data extracted from the Survey were submitted to

    an exploratory principle component factor analysis with varimax rotation, in order to identify

    relationships among items and, therefore, the subscales or factors which could be taken as

    summary measures of the items. Negative items were reverse scored (e.g, item 19), so that a

    positive factor score reflected a positive perception. The four extracted factors, which each

    included items that loaded more than 0.550, measured learners perceptions of:

    Course effectiveness (items16, 3, 6, 15): This subscale reported learners evaluations of their

    understanding of the academic subject, as well as availability of informative feedback and the

    effectiveness of materials;

    16 I have learned a lot in this course (.809)

    3 You get feedback in tutorials which helps you learn (.724)

    6 The material is useful. (.720)

    15 I have gained a good understanding of the language system (.694)

    Tutor (items 13, 12, 14, 7): This subscale collected learners evaluations of their tutors

    contributions and comments, as well as on the tutors attitudes to their teaching.

    13 The tutor knows the subject matter well (.885)

    12 The tutor stresses important points (.774)

    14 The tutor communicates his/her enthusiasm for the subject (.747)

    7 The tutor is professional in attitude (.672)

    Course interest (items 1, 10, 19, 18): This subscale included presenting materials in an interesting

    way, as well as learners disposition towards recommending the course to fellow students.

    10 The tutor presents material in an interesting way (.898)

    1 The tutorials are well organised (.651)

    19 I would recommended this language course to fellow students. (.607)

    18 I found the language course interesting (.568)

    Course difficulty (item 17): this item was considered separately, since it did not appear to be

    related to any other included in the survey. Learners were asked to state whether they had

    perceived the course to be more difficult than other subjects for their course.

    17 The subjects was