MET:Blended Learning in a Second Language Environment
Blended Learning in Second Language Environments
Authored by: Megan Buyks and Lynette Manton. March 2010; Revised by Tamara Wong February 2011; Revised by Madelaine Campbell in June 2011; Revised and contributed to by David Jackson February 2017
- There is a long tradition of using computers in Second Language Acquisition (SLA) beginning with Computer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL) and Network – Based Language Teaching (NBLT).  Blended learning is often supportive of the constructivist approach and many educators find themselves in “the role of a tutor or facilitator of learners’ independent and autonomous learning.” 
Motteram and Sharma define 3 main categories through which an educator or institution can use blended learning in a language learning course:
1. A 'dual track' approach: 'A ‘dual track’ approach could involve the teacher-led part of the course running parallel with the self-study part, perhaps delivered on CD-ROM. These separate components could be stand-alone, or they could be made to work together more closely' (p.9).
2. An 'integrated' approach:'students are given work as consolidation or as a pre-class activity. Students are expected to use the appropriate technologies between each of the face-to-face classes. They may choose whether to do these tasks or not, rather like homework' (p.9).
3. An 'embedded' approach: 'in the classroom, as with the fixed interactive whiteboard which allows an always-on internet connection and access to web 2.0 tools such as blogs and wikis, CD-ROMs and other learning tools' (p.9).
Uses of Blended Learning in Second Language Environments
There are many online resources (e.g. text chat / forums, audio chat, video chat) that enrich the authenticity and collaborative nature for language learners that can include:
- Traditional Computer Applications
- Teacher produced documents
- Assignment submissions
- Sound files
- Web pages
- Interactive Learning Environments 
- Collaborative Work Spaces Example:Google docs
- Voice Threads
- Learning Management Systems
Examples of Blended Learning Language Courses
The following are some examples of Blended Learning Language courses:
- “The Mission of the project was to create a blended learning system, online and offline, with materials for learning and teaching in four languages (Turkish, Romanian, Bulgarian, and Lithuanian) and a procedural methodology, which can be transferred to the learning and teaching of other languages as well.” 
- “Blended learning with "redaktion-D". You learn at home, with support by e-mail from one of our tutors and only have to come to the Institut a few times. 
- “The Japanese Language Companion represents a significant step forward by offering the opportunity for teachers of Japanese to migrate from traditional classroom methods of instruction to a blended learning environment.” 
Constructivism and Blended Learning in Second Language Acquisition
Language learning takes place incidentally when learners interact and construct social practices,  therefore a blended learning course design should encourage learner participation and interaction between both students and instructors and students and their peers. Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, and Zvacek (2009) suggest implementing self-contained workspaces for groups within the course site. These group spaces can provide a platform for students to chat, exchange e-mail, share documents for group discussion, collaboration, and revision. 
Course design must be deliberate, intentional and purposeful  and learners must feel as if they are part of an online community. Communication is necessary to help build these relationships in order to foster a productive language learning environment and can be both synchronous and asynchronous.  Knowing the language learners age, cultural background, learning preferences, interests and educational levels, as well as the level of familiarity with the instructional methods and technological delivery systems,  is an important consideration when designing online courseware.
Communication is a key component in second language (L2) classes. As such, blended learning environments should be designed to allow for both synchronous and asynchronous practices to be established. Synchronous communication is often covered during the f2f components of blended learning courses, however may also be achieved during online chats or Elluminate sessions. Asynchronous communication may be achieved during discussion forums, collaborative workspaces such as Google docs, via email, in blogs or through voice threads.
Views on Blended Learning in Language Learning
There are two opposing views of blended learning in language instruction discussed in the literature.
- 1. Putting solo activities online, such as reading and grammar, can replace classroom time and prepare the students for interactive activities to practice the language in the f2f classroom.  Contact time with the instructor is reduced but is more valuable in the f2f class as the instructor becomes a facilitator of language use.
- 2. Another view is that there should be a close connection between the activities in both modes that are interactive and integrate LL to create a learning community.  Task definition prior to class to assigned groups would qualify under this view. Online and f2f collaboration to meet task outcomes could be very productive in meeting constructivist second language learning outcomes as well.
Some possible problems that arise in a blended learning second language environment are:
- Teachers may need professional development to be able to take full advantage of the affordances of blended learning.
- Traditional test-based evaluation is more difficult.
- Computer instruction can take up valuable time.
- Computer equipment is expensive and BYOD not always practical.
Some affordances that blended learning of a second language offer are:
- Students have more time to practice their speaking skills in class.
- There is an opportunity for a less teacher directed and more spontaneous learning environment.
- Affective influences on language learning become evident in a social task-based setting in class.
- Evaluation becomes more holistic.
- Computers add value to the total experience, extending and complementing the affordances for learning.
- Computers afford progress independence to meet individual needs.
- Computers afford the existence of communities of cohort learners for both synchronous and asynchronous mutual support.
- Task-based constructivist and constructionist learning is facilitated with the teacher freeing up time to be a task mentor.
On average Blended Learning in a Second Language Environment seems to be well received by most language teachers, language learners, and researchers.
In fact, a blended course design opens up a plethora of opportunities for instructional variation. In an ESL class, social activities such as skits with storylines can be discussed online before coming to class and in class practice on presentation can then be mentored in class. The same with creative video presentations set as tasks that could be discussed online first, to be subsequently collaborated on in class at the production phase. See the following video produced in ETEC 510 to illustrate just one of many possible alternative creative options.(David Jackson ETEC 510 / 2017) https://youtu.be/PqOp2XuR6-w and https://vimeo.com/201508782 The two videos belong together and should be viewed in sequence. Classroom activities can easily expand on this simple theme example, allowing for a 'constructionist' or 'task-based' approach to oral language practice in class. Lev Vygotsky and Aleksander Luria realised that human reasoning emerges through practical activities and that more complex language syntax is directly generated by such reasoning.
Blended Learning in Canada
Canada is the only country that does not have a federal Ministry of Education. As a result of this, e-learning is mandated provincially. Rory McGreal and Terry Anderson from Athabasca University, Canada, note some issues that arise as a result of the provincial jurisdiction of public education: 'The provinciality of Canadian e-learning serves to highlight the inability of Canada to sustain national strategies and focus, such as those implemented in many other countries, due to the fractious nature of federal and provincial relations, particularly in education.' 
Blended Learning in second language education in BC
Public Education System:'Through Distributed  Learning Programs such as LearnNowBC.
Within the public education system in BC, you can find language courses offered online by clicking on this link, and entering the course name: http://www.learnnowbc.ca/course_finder/course_finder.aspx Some of the language courses offered for Gr.10-12 students include Mandarin, and ESL.
Private Education System:
Within the private education system in BC, the following links provide sites that offer blended learning:
Testden.com (for ESL learning)
Camosun College (for Language Learning)
Blended Learning,Sociocultural-Constructivist, Constructivism, Constructivist Learning Environments, Multiple Intelligences, Collaborative Learning, Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, Blended Learning in an Adult Literacy Classroom, Synchronous and Asynchronous Communication:Tools for Collaboration, Wikis in Education, Authentic Learning Environments, Computers and Instructional Design in Foreign Languages, Computer-Assisted Language Learning, Integrating Technology to Enhance Classroom Instruction: Ideas for Projects and Activities, Using Interactive Whiteboards to Enhance English Language Instruction
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ETEC 510 David Jackson Video Link - Feb. 2017
This first link connects to YouTube and introduces the concept of Stop Motion video storytelling: https://youtu.be/PqOp2XuR6-w
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Blended Learning in Second Language Environments - Stop Motion Video
Video LInk: https://youtu.be/SNACXHlm0pw
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