An Analysis of the Effect of a Cyber Home Learning System on Korean Secondary School Students' English Language Achievement and Attitude

By Shin, Ji Hye; Albers, Peggy | TESL Canada Journal, Spring 2015 | Go to article overview

An Analysis of the Effect of a Cyber Home Learning System on Korean Secondary School Students' English Language Achievement and Attitude


Shin, Ji Hye, Albers, Peggy, TESL Canada Journal


Internet use has become an everyday occurrence for a large part of the population in the world. At the tap of a return button, people access the Internet for finding information, getting directions, and studying courses on any topic online (McAuley, Stewart, Siemens, & Cormier, 2010). With access to innumerable online resources, e-learning policies and initiatives over the past few years have begun to make possible the promise of the "self-directed" and "independent" e-learning (Beetham & Sharpe, 2013), especially for students who also seek out self-directed learning.

South Korea currently faces a number of pressing educational issues such as increased household private tutoring expenses, deteriorating quality of public education, and fierce competition surrounding the Korean Scholastic Aptitude Test (KSAT; Park, 2009). These challenges often result in parents' disillusionment with the educational system, as well as a decline in teacher self-image. The dissatisfaction of students and parents with public education has in recent years led to extreme dependence on incredibly expensive private after-school education to compensate for the perceived deficiencies of public education (Hwang, Yang, & Kim, 2010). This trend toward increased reliance on private tutoring reveals a growing gap in access to educational opportunities that jeopardizes the egalitarian ideals of Korean society.

In order to address these education-related challenges and respond to the exploding computer literacy demands accompanying the rapid technological development of Korean society, policy makers have begun to make substantial reforms to the Korean educational system. Information communication technology (ICT) use in education and e-learning has been identified as a key means by which to meet computer literacy needs as well as to expand educational opportunity and improve satisfaction with public education in Korea.

This article addresses the significant role that one self-learning program in South Korea plays in English as a Foreign Language (EFL) students' learning to position them for better chances to get into their first-choice universities. The purpose of this quasi-experimental study was to examine the effectiveness of the Cyber Home Learning System (CHLS) as a supplementary instructional aid, and to elicit participants' perceptions of the CHLS in terms of its advantages and limitations. Three research questions guided the study: (a) Does CHLS improve EFL learners' level of English proficiency? (b) Which level of EFL learners among lower, intermediate, and advanced benefits from using CHLS? (c) Do EFL learners perceive CHLS as effective and helpful English-language learning tools?

Computer-Assisted Language Learning and E-Learning

Research comparing distance education to traditional face-to-face instruction indicates that studying at a distance can be as effective as traditional instruction for supporting self-study, especially when instructional methods and technologies used are appropriate to the instructional aims, student-to-student interaction, and timely feedback (Bernard et al., 2004; Sitzmann, Kraiger, Stewart, & Wisher, 2006; Verduin & Clark, 1991). Further, online access to programs removes learning from the physical boundaries of schools and into spaces where students can work with materials on their own time and with lessons prepared by experts. The Korean Ministry of Education, Science and Technology and Korea Education and Research Information Service (MEST & KERIS, 2012) argues that online access to learning supports students' rights to equitable education by enabling students from all geographic areas, those with physical disabilities, or those who have not passed required courses to study and learn at their own pace and on their own time (MEST & KERIS, 2012).

Although language learning through Internet access and computer technology predominantly arose as a phenomenon in the mid 1990s, investigations on the capabilities of technology for language instruction started in the 1960s by teachers and researchers at universities (Chapelle, 2005). …

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