Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Mobile Seamless Technology Enhanced CSL Oral Communication

Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Mobile Seamless Technology Enhanced CSL Oral Communication

Article excerpt

Introduction

Being able to use a foreign/second language (FL/L2) appropriately is an essential component in evaluating the success of FL/L2 education. Pragmatic competence referring to the ability to use language appropriately in different social situations, thus, should be considered in FL/L2 teaching, as described in The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (Council of Europe, 2001) and the proficiency guidelines developed by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (Swender et al., 2012).

In order to develop the pragmatic competence in the target language, some approaches have been suggested and adopted in FL/L2 education. Among them, context-based language learning is heavily highlighted by FL/L2 researchers and educators (Serrano, Llanes, & Tragant, 2011). Context-based instruction has a foundation on the sociocultural theory of second language acquisition (SLA) which emphasizes the integrated nature of learner. Moreover, social context elements in the learning process (Eun & Lim, 2009) include the contexts and the interaction mediate language learning, and thus they play an important role in the SLA process (Ellis, 2008). According to the perspective of sociocultural SLA, immersing in an authentic context is important for L2 learning (Lan, 2014) because an L2 cannot be acquired merely via context-reduced practicing by rote. L2 learning which emphasizes the importance of learners using the target language in an authentically immersive environment befits L2 learners' oral performance and forms accuracy (Lan, Kan, Hsiao, Yang, & Chang, 2013). The evidence obtained from brain-related research also supports context-immersive learning for L2 acquisition (Zinser & Li, 2012).

As Mandarin Chinese learning has become popular globally over recent years (Ramzy, 2006), many people have traveled to such countries as China, Taiwan, and Singapore, in which Mandarin Chinese is the dominant or primary language, in order to acquire the language. Taiwan has been one of the most popular countries for learners of Chinese as a second language (CSL), and especially for overseas Chinese students from around the world because the Chinese tradition and culture has been preserved on this Asia Pacific Island (Lan, 2014). How we could meet the learning needs of those overseas Chinese students in appropriately using Mandarin in real-life occasions, consequently, becomes a challenge to Mandarin training institutes (Lan, Lin, & Tsai, 2014). To take up the challenge and to consider the importance of contexts for SLA, context-based real-life language tasks are usually included in the course program of Mandarin Chinese in addition to in-class Mandarin language skill instructions to provide CSL learners with diverse experiences in exploring Mandarin Chinese (Lan, Lin, & Tsai, 2014).

A language task is something that people do in their everyday lives (Long, 1985), in which the settings and the conditions under which the task takes place are two essential elements (Nunan, 1989). The two elements referring the authentic contexts and the social interaction, as described above, both are essential in the SLA process (Ellis, 2008). Obviously, real life contexts should be first constructed for CSL learners, and then learners should practice using the learned language in social interaction. However, the two issues described below should be dealt with if successful real-life context-based language learning is anticipated. (1) It is uneasy for CSL teachers in traditional classrooms to create authentic contexts for learners to immerse themselves into the situations and carry out language tasks (Yue, 2009). The lack of similar real life contexts does not only lower CSL learners' performance but also their motivation (Lan, Lin, Kao, Chang, Sung, & Liu, 2015). (2) While carrying out language tasks, especially in real world, some obstacles are encountered by CSL learners, including the insufficient pragmatic competence for having appropriate social communication (Lan, Lin, & Tsai, 2014) and the low motivation in using Mandarin Chinese in daily interaction rather than using their first language (Edge, Searle, Chiu, Zhao, & Landay, 2011). …

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