Academic journal article Reading Improvement

Impacts of Online Technology Use in Second Language Writing: A Review of the Literature

Academic journal article Reading Improvement

Impacts of Online Technology Use in Second Language Writing: A Review of the Literature

Article excerpt

This article reviews the literature on computer-supported collaborative learning in second language and foreign language writing. While research has been conducted on the effects of online technology in first language reading and writing, this article explores how online technology affects second and foreign language writing. The goal of this study is to examine the strengths and weaknesses of online technology in second and foreign language writing instruction. The literature review suggests that online collaborative learning environments can have cognitive, sociocultural, and psychological advantages, including enhancing writing skills, critical thinking skills, and knowledge construction, while increasing participation, interaction, motivation, and reducing anxiety. The most frequently mentioned advantages are cognitive achievements and the least frequently mentioned advantages are psychological benefits. However, a few studies also reveal that online collaborative learning environments can have cognitive, social, psychological, and technological disadvantages, including mechanical errors, conflict, fear, discomfort, and time wasted on technological problems. Most studies argue for the potential benefits of online collaborative writing. None of the studies is strong against online collaborative learning or online collaborative writing. Even though a few studies recognize the drawbacks of online learning, they are not specially related to writing or second language writing. Finally, issues important for future research are discussed.

Introduction

Writing instruction of English Language Learners (ELLs) has become one of the most urgent issues in today's educational practice. As the pace of immigration to the U.S. has accelerated in recent years, increasing numbers of children in U.S. schools come from homes in which English is not the primary spoken language. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the number of children ages 5-17 who spoke a language other than English at home more than doubled between 1979 and 2004. An estimated 5 million children with limited proficiency in English were enrolled in U.S. public schools during the 2003-2004 school year (2006 United States Government Accountability Office), and they represent about 10 percent of the total school population. These students speak over 400 languages and most of them have difficulties in speaking, reading, writing, or understanding English that interfere with their ability to successfully participate in school. In the 2003-2004 school year, the percentage of students with limited English proficiency reported as scoring proficient on a state's language arts tests was lower than the (state's) annual progress goals in nearly two-thirds of the 48 states.

Furthermore, ELL writers are a diverse and complex group. They come from a range of national, cultural, religious, ethnic, and linguistic groups. They speak many languages and have extensive educational needs, including students with little formal schooling and students with native language proficiency. Accurately assessing the academic knowledge of these students in English is challenging. Compounding the challenge is a paucity of teaching strategies to address the diversity and complexity of these students' needs and to help them to improve their English proficiency. One size does not fit all in any endeavor to improve ELL students' English proficiency. Teachers need to find out what works for which students. In other words, ELL writing teachers need to look for teaching methods that address individual learning needs.

Recent ELL research has shown a mismatch between the writing programs offered to ELL students and the realities of their unique writing needs (Matsuda, 1998). According to Matsuda (1998), most writing programs in U.S. schools are more suitable for native English speaking students than non-native English speaking students, because ELL students have different linguistic, cultural, and educational needs than native English speaking students. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.