The Use of ICT in Learning English as an International Language

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2006-08-04

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The simultaneous impact of globalization, the spread of English and technological development have transformed our learning and teaching English as a lingua franca in an unprecedented way (Warschauer, 2004). As a result, both English and ICT have become essential literacy skills for a growing number of non-native speakers of English to ensure full participation in the information society.

The study investigated 591 Chinese university students in an inland city in relation to (a) their technology ownership, usage patterns, and levels of perceived ICT skills; (b) their motivational orientations to learn English; (c) their perceptions of English and technology; and (d) their perceived benefits of and barriers to using ICT in learning English. Findings from the questionnaire, which had both open-ended and close-ended questions, unveiled not only the students' aspirations toward acquiring English and ICT skills but also problems and challenges they have faced in the age of globalization. In addition, the current study revealed that the economic and sociocultural contexts in which the students found themselves greatly influenced their language learning experience through technology. 

Discussing the results of the current study, I echoed recent calls for paradigm shift in the area of (a) English as International Language (EIL), (b) EIL students' motivational orientations, and (c) the digital divide. By highlighting the vital importance of nurturing human and social resources, I suggested creating supportive communities of practice for EIL teachers in a technology-enhanced language classroom. I also provided pedagogical implications with regard to developing multiple literacies.

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