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Title: Critical literacy and autonomous language learning : meeting the need for self-actualisation in ePortfolios among Hong Kong tertiary students
Authors: Troshina, K
Zou, D
Issue Date: 2015
Source: EUROCALL Conference, European Association for Computer-Assisted Language Learning, Padova, Italy, 26-29, August 2015 (Abstract) How to cite?
Abstract: Incorporation of ePortfolios into the ESL curriculum has been widely regarded as a way to supplement face-to-face teaching, give each learner an opportunity to share his or her viewpoints and engage in purposeful negotiation, interpretation and decoding of language items, texts and concepts which in turn leads to the development of language as well as higher-order thinking skills. However, as evidence suggests the online space offered to facilitate ESL learning might not always fully meet individuals’ need for self-actualisation and might not always be regarded by students as relevant or encouraging self-expression or autonomy in learning. This paper investigates the phenomenon of self-directed language learning among Hong Kong ESL tertiary students in the context of English-medium social media resources related to the Occupy Central civil disobedience movement in Hong Kong from September to October in 2014. The study analyses mechanisms and techniques of vocabulary acquisition learners demonstrate through participating in discussion threads, where members engage in critical literacy practices by expressing support, criticism or neutral standpoints related to the movement using vocabulary items from relevant published online sources in the absence of teacher guidance. Results of the study show great autonomy and highly motivated language learning behavior, as all participants voluntarily contribute ideas to the discussion forum and express their own opinions concerning various pieces of news and others’ viewpoints. Subjects also managed to support their own arguments using information obtained from the news and analyse diverse aspects of relative issues without teacher’s support. This provides evidence for a high level of independence and motivation in the development of language skills resulting from students’ engagement in self-directed language learning practices. The research also reveals the benefits of teacher-free online environment for the development of critical thinking and rhetorical skills among adult learners. The above findings carry implications for the use and application of ePortfolios in terms of students’ involvement in the choice of topics and tasks, the amount of teacher’s presence needed and interaction patterns between participants. It is therefore suggested that it is essential to apply more student-directed and needs-sensitive approaches to incorporating ePortfolios into the ESL curriculum at tertiary institutions in Hong Kong and elsewhere.
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