MET:Blended Learning in a Second Language Environment

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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

Figure 1: Blended Learning‎

Blended Learning consists of "using online tools to communicate, collaborate and publish, to extend the school day or year and to develop the 21st-century skills students need.[1]

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). [2] 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.” [3]

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:

Figure 2: Online Resources

Examples of Blended Learning Language Courses

The following are some examples of Blended Learning Language courses:

Autonomous Language Learning (ALL)

  • “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.” [6]


  • “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. [7]

Japanese Language Companion

  • “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.” [8]

Constructivism and Blended Learning in Second Language Acquisition

Language learning takes place incidentally when learners interact and construct social practices, [9] 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. [10]

Course design must be deliberate, intentional and purposeful [11] 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. [12] 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, [13] 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. [14] 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. [15] 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) and 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.' [16]

File:Wiki chart.pdf
Figure 4: Private Vs Public Spheres‎

Blended Learning in second language education in BC

Public Education System:'Through Distributed [1] 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: 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:

[2] (for ESL learning)

[3]Camosun College (for Language Learning)

See also

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


  1. Liz Pape, 2010
  2. Kern, Ware & Warschauer, 2008
  3. Gallardo del Puerto & Gamboa, 2009, p. 140
  4. Motteram & Sharma, 2009, p. 9
  5. "Learning Management System", n.d.
  6. Europena Union Socrates Lingua Programme (2011) (
  7. Goethe Insitut (2011).
  8. Free Press Release (2010)
  9. Block, 2003
  10. Buyks & Tutkaluk, 2009, p. 2
  11. Buyks & Tutkaluk, p. 9
  12. Buyks & Tutkaluk, p. 8
  13. Willis, 1994
  14. Scida & Saury 2006; Schweiter, 2008
  15. Littlejohn & Pegler,2007; Gallardo del Puerto & Gamboa, 2009
  16. McGreal & Anderson, 2007

ETEC 510 David Jackson Video Link - Feb. 2017

This first link connects to YouTube and introduces the concept of Stop Motion video storytelling:


Block, D. (2003). The social turn in second language acquisition. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

British Council. (2006). Blended Learning: Opening the English classroom. Retrieved February 14 2011 from:

Buyks, M. & Tutkaluk, E. (2009). Design and development of online learning environments. Unpublished Manuscript.

De George-Walker, L., & Keeffe, M. (2010). Self-Determined Blended Learning: A Case Study of Blended Learning Design. Higher Education Research and Development, 29(1), 1-13. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Europena Union Socrates Lingua Programme. (2011). ALL Autonomous Language Learning. Retrieved from:

Free Press Release (2010). Blended Learning Sources Releases Japanese Language Learning Software. Retrieved February 14, 2011 from:

Gallardo del Puerto, F & Gamboa, E. (2009). The evaluation of computer-mediated technology by second language teachers: collaboration and interaction in CALL. Educational Media International. Vol. 46, No.2, June 2009, 137-152. Retrieved from

Garrison, D. R., & Kanuka, H. (2004). Blended learning: uncovering its transformative potential in higher education. The Internet and Higher Education, 7(2), 95–105.

Goethe Insitut. (2011). German Courses: Blended Learning with redaktion-D. Retrieved from:

Kern, R., Ware, P. & Warschauer, M. (2008). Network-based language teaching. Retrieved from

Learning Management Systems. (n.d.) In UBC ETEC 510 Wiki, Retrieved February 13, 2011, from

Littlejohn, A., & Pegler, C. (2007). Preparing for blended e-learning. New York: Routledge

Luria, A.R. (1981). Language and Cognition, John Wiley & Sons, Washington, D.C.

Macdonald, J. (2008). Blended Learning and Online Tutoring (2nd ed.). Hampshire, UK: Gower.

Motteram & Sharma (2009) Blended Learning in a Web 2.0 World. International Journal of Emerging Technologies & Society. Vol.7, N. 2, 2009, 83-96. Retrieved from

Schweiter, J. (2008). Preparing students for class: a hybrid enhancement to language learning. College Teaching Methods & Styles Journal. Vol 4, Number 6, June 2008, p 41-50. Retrieved February 2010.

Scida, E. & Saury, R. (2006). Hybrid courses and their impact on student and classroom performance: a case study at the university of virginia. Calico Journal, Vol 23, No 3, May 2006. Retrieved February 2010.

Thomas, M. & Reinders, H. (2010). Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology, Continuum International Publishing Company, New York, NY.

Vygotsky, L.S. (1978). Mind in Society - The Development of Higher Psychological Processes, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.


Blended Learning in Second Language Environments - Stop Motion Video

Video LInk:

Video References:

Jee, R. Y., & O'Connor, G. (2014). Evaluating the Impact of Blended Learning on Performance and Engagement of Second Language Learners. International Journal Of Advanced Corporate Learning, 7(3), 12-16. doi:10.3991/ijac.v7i3.3986

Pinto-Llorente, A., Sanchez-Gomez, M., Garcia-Penalvo, F., & Casillas-Martin, S. (2017). Students' perceptions and attitudes towards asynchronous technological tools in blended-learning training to improve grammatical competence in English as a second language. Computers in Human Behavior, 72, 632-643. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2016.05.071

Mouza, C. and Lavigne, N. (eds). 2013. Chapter 1: Emerging Technologies for the Classroom. Explorations in the Learning Sciences, Instructional Systems, and Performance Technologies. New York: Springer Science + Business Media.

Blender Brain GIF. Retrieved from: https : //

Blended Learning Blender GIF. Retrieved from: https : //

Earth Spinning GIF. Retrieved from: http: //

The Simpsons Classroom GIF. Retrieved from: https : //

Further Readings

Alm, A. (2008). Integrating emerging technologies in the foreign language classroom: A case study. International Journal of Pedagogies and Learning, 4(4), p. 44-60. Retrieved from

Amiri, F. (2000). IT literacy for language teachers: Should it include computer programming? System, 29, 77-84

Brandl, K. (2005). Are you ready to “Moodle”?. Language Learning & Technology, Vol. 9, No. 2, May 2005, p. 16-23. Retrieved from 1/

Eskow, S. (2007). All learning is hybrid learning: The idea of 'the organizing technology'. Educational technology and change. Retrieved from

Garrison, D. R. & Vaughan, N. (2008). Blended learning in higher education: framework, principles, and guidelines. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Hinkelman, D. (2005). Blended learning: Issues driving an end to laboratory-based CALL. JALT Hokkaido Journal Vol. 9 pp. 17-31.

McGreal, Rory & Anderson, Terry. (2007). E-Learning in Canada. “International Journal of Distance Education Technologies”. Hershey: Jan-Mar 2007. Vol. 5, Iss. 1; pp. 1-6

Michigan State University. (2007). Language learning moves into the digital age. Retrieved from

Mossavar-Rahmani, F. & Larsen-Daugherty, C. (2007). Supporting the hybrid learning model: a new proposition. Merlot Journal of Online Learning and Teaching. Vol 3, No 1, March 2007. Retrieved from

Motterram, G. & Sharma, P. (2009). Blending learning in a Web 2.0 World. Retrieved from

Pape, Liz.(2010). Blended Teaching and Learning. "School Administrator". Vol 67, No 4, April 2010 pp. 16-21. Retrieved from UBC Library online.

Pellerin, M. & Roy, S. (2006). Blended teaching approach: Blended face-to-face language teaching and learning with online learning. Proceeding of the Twelfth International Call Conference, Antwerp, Belgium.

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2009). Foundations of distance education. Teaching and Learning at a Distance: Foundations of Distance Education (4th Ed.). Columbus, OH: Merril Prentice Hall.

Stacey, E & Wiesenberg, F. (2007). A study of face-to-face and online teaching philosophies in Canada and Australia. Journal of Distance Education, 22 (1) 19. Retrieved from CBCA Education(PQ)database.

Thorne, S. & Black, R. (2007). Language and literacy development in computer-mediated contexts and communities. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 27, p. 1–28. Retrieved from

Warschauer, M. (2005). Sociocultural perspectives on CALL. In J. Egbert and G. M. Petrie (Eds.) CALL Research Perspectives (p. 41-51). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Earlbaum. Retrieved from

Willis, B. (1994). Distance educations: Strategies and tools. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology Publications.