Call 2004 Abstract



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CALL 2004 - Abstract



The Development, Implementation, and Evaluation of a Web-based EFL Learning

Environment

Name





Meei-Ling Liaw


Affiliation


Department of Foreign Languages and Literature

Tunghai University

Taichung, Taiwan 407


E-mail address


mlliaw@mail.thu.edu.tw






Abstract



To facilitate EFL learning and foster cross-cultural sensitivity, a web-based reading

and writing environment was developed. This paper describes the year-long process

of developing, implementing, and evaluating of this on-line learning environment. First

of all, after a careful survey of students’ reading interests and language proficiency

level, articles of cross-cultural topics were selected and on-line reading and writing

activities were designed accordingly. Two bilingual corpora-based e-referencing tools,

a concordancer and a bilingual dictionary, were then built in to be at the students’

disposal while they engaged in reading and writing activities. Two instructional units

were piloted and the students’ on-line reading behaviors, i.e., the use of concordancer

and dictionary, were tracked, recorded, and analyzed. The students filled out a

questionnaire to give feedback to the designers/researchers for the improvement of

the web-based learning environment. Finally, a six-unit web-based EFL learning

environment was constructed. The web-based learning environment was then

integrated into two university freshman English classes as a supplementary

component of the course. The students worked on one unit every two weeks for one

semester. To evaluate the effects of the use of the environment on the participating

students’ language learning, the students’ performances on six on-line reading

comprehension tests and written responses to the articles were analyzed. The

students’ written responses and on-line discussion were content analyzed for levels

of cultural awareness based on the definitions provided by Hanvey (1976). The

students’ uses of the two e-referencing tools, again, were analyzed to investigate the

possibility of links between such uses and language and cultural learning. The findings

indicated a positive correlation between the frequency of usage of the two

e-referencing tools and language learning performances. In general, the students’

levels of cultural awareness demonstrated an up-ward tendency as more units were

studied. The student questionnaire findings showed that in spite of the encouraging

findings, the students suggested provisions of voiced-reading function, more

challenging articles, and links to other online learning resources for future

improvement of the learning environment. The students’ favourable uses of the

interactive discussion feature to express their thoughts on cross-cultural issues

indicated a certain comfort level with online interactive communication mode. The

findings also suggested positive effects in fostering cross-cultural sensitivity via online

reading and writing about cross-cultural issues. Recommendations are then made for

developing communicative web-based environments where language learners can

negotiate meaning over topics that are relevant both to their own life experience and

target cultures.



Keywords


Web-based learning, e-referencing tools, EFL instruction, cross-cultural

awareness





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