Role of Informal Digital Learning of English (IDLE) in Hong Kong university students’ perceptions of English as an International Language (EIL)
- Dr LEE, Ju Seong
This proposed research aims to fill the current gap by investigating the relationship between IDLE and two dimensions of EIL among Hong Kong university students, who are increasingly experiencing diverse accents among users of English through IDLE activities.
Due to technological advancement and its growing affordances, English language learning and teaching beyond the classroom with technology has received recent research attention in the fields of Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) (Lai, 2017; Reinders & Benson, 2017). The PI calls this emerging phenomenon Informal Digital Learning of English (IDLE), which is defined as “self-directed, naturalistic, digital learning of English in unstructured, out-of-class environments” (Lee, 2019a, p. 116). Concurrently, it has become increasingly common for ESL/EFL learners to communicate with English speakers from diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds. Against this backdrop, Matsuda (2017) underscores the functional dimension of English from the English as an International Language (EIL) perspective, which broadly encompasses two constructs—namely, perceptions of varieties of English and strategic competence for cross-cultural communication. Although contemporary ESL/EFL students, as authentic EIL users, are increasingly engaging in cross-cultural communication in a range of IDLE environments (e.g., talking with diverse English speakers via social media or through digital gameplay), to date there is scant research on this topic. Building upon the PI’s previous studies (Lee, 2019a; Lee & Drajati, in press; Lee & Lee, 2019a, 2019b), this proposed research aims to fill the current gap by investigating the relationship between IDLE and two dimensions of EIL among Hong Kong university students, who are increasingly experiencing diverse accents among users of English through IDLE activities (Yung, 2019). Drawing on a sequential explanatory mixed-methods research design, data will be collected from 20 ESL/EFL classes at two universities by means of questionnaires (N = 400), open-ended questions (N = 400), semi-structured interviews (n = 40), and stimulated recalls (n = 40). With an interdisciplinary approach drawing from CALL, sociolinguistics, and TESOL, theoretically this study can help us better understand and further theorize the way in which informal language practice using technology is related to contemporary students’ perceptions of EIL. From a research perspective, the triangulated data gives us detailed insights into how students’ engagement in IDLE activities is conducive to developing their perceptions of EIL. Pedagogically, the findings will offer practical insights into how English language teachers can better prepare contemporary English learners for cross-cultural interactions in digital or face-to-face milieus. Additionally, since conventional EIL pedagogy seems to be limited within a classroom setting, the findings will broaden the current scope of the EIL pedagogical model beyond a classroom setting.
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