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ERIC Number: ED557905
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: 260
Abstractor: As Provided
ISBN: 978-1-3037-9834-4
Ecological View of the Learner-Context Interface for Online Language Learning: A Phenomenological Case Study of Informal Learners of Macedonian
Belamaric Wilsey, Biljana
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, North Carolina State University
Studies of informal language learning and self-instruction with online materials have recently come into prominence. However, those studies are predominantly focused on more commonly taught languages and there is a gap in the literature on less commonly taught languages (LCTL), precisely the languages that are often studied outside of formal settings. The current research aims to begin to fill that gap by examining the experiences of learners of Macedonian. Using a qualitative approach, the author presents an ecological perspective of the phenomenon of learning Macedonian informally as reported by the learners themselves through interviews. Eleven participants from Albania, Canada, Greece, Hungary, Macedonia, Russia, and the United States described how their learning context impacted their study through self-instruction with online resources (n = 5) and with the additional help from tutors (n = 6). The study results were presented through the lenses of Ecological Systems theory and Learner-Context Interface theory. Most of the participants in the study reported support, albeit limited, for their Macedonian language learning and maintenance in their microsystem, as well as through Internet resources in their exosystem, whereas their macrosystem exerted a negative impact upon their language study. Most participants stated that their biggest obstacle was finding opportunities to practice the language and most participants were open to the remedy of practicing in virtual learning communities. All the participants used online means to search for resources, most were comfortable using online materials, and they considered them effective. In addition, all of the participants were simultaneously using multiple resources, such as Web sites which stream Macedonian content (news, movies, music, and e-textbooks from Macedonia), Web sites which explain Macedonian grammar and vocabulary (such as the recruitment site for the study, the Macedonian Language E-Learning Center), online dictionaries and Google translate, Facebook, Skype, radio, online flashcards, and tutoring. These conclusions taken together point to a normalization of online technologies for LCTL study. The researcher also found that most of the learners did not have specific goals and objectives on which they based their searches for and use of materials and technology, but instead had general end-goals, such as speaking Macedonian fluently. In addition, none of the participants spoke about evaluating the quality of the resources (including physical and human) that they found before starting to use them. Deducing from these two findings, it can be concluded that although the learners were experienced language learners (all of them had studied other foreign languages before), they still needed guidance on choosing effective resources and achieving their goals. This guidance is the task of instructional designers and tutors. Designers of materials for LCTLs need to be explicit about the goals and objectives on which resources are based in order to facilitate the learners' understanding of a path towards a goal. They also need to provide learners with information how to best navigate and adapt materials to fit their own needs and preferences. Furthermore, learners need to be educated that not all online resources are equally effective, trustworthy, or appropriate for their needs and they need assistance with learning to evaluate resources. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Tel: 800-521-0600; Web site:
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A