E-TUTORING AND ORAL SKILLS: MEASURING TUTEES’ LANGUAGE QUALITY AND PROGRESS
Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières (CANADA)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN13 Proceedings
Publication year: 2013
Page: 3561 (abstract only)
Conference name: 5th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 1-3 July, 2013
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Abstract:Contrary to the teaching of dead languages, teaching a second language (L2) has as its goal oral communication. On the one hand, oral interaction is probably the greatest source of anxiety for language learners (Frantzen & Magnan, 2005; Matsuda & Gobel, 2004), outside or inside the classroom. To diminish the level of L2 anxiety experienced by L2 learners, Arnold (2006) suggests that teachers provide students with oral exercises so they gradually learn to control their “stress” and communicate efficiently in the L2. On the other hand, brief contacts with native speakers can have positive effects on students’ L2 skills (MacFarlane, 1997, 2001). Yet, access to native speakers rapidly appears as an important issue in unilingual regions where contacts with the L2 are practically non existent.
Due to their intrinsic qualities, ICTs can bring authentic oral communication into the regular classroom. Moreover, research also supports that distance peer tutoring is a promising tool for the learning of an L2 (Gazaille, 2010, 2011; Gelabert, Gisbert, Thurston, & Topping, 2008). Yet, much L2 acquisition research focuses on L2 learning in the conventional classroom and on young learners. Young adult learners, and in particular those who are taught in a hybrid mode i.e. combining distance and in-class instruction, have attracted much less attention.
With the exceptions of Montréal and cities geographically close to the United States and Ontario frontiers, English is barely accessible outside the English-as-a-second-language (ESL) classroom in many cities and villages of the province of Québec (Canada). In order to support the learning of English in Québec’s unilingual regions, we developed a distance one-on-one synchronous L2 tutoring program. One of the main objectives of this e-tutoring program was to provide young adult ESL learners with more authentic L2 opportunities to improve their oral skills. Parts 1 and 2 of the study discussed tutees’ reported satisfaction and perception of learning as well as levels of classroom L2 oral anxiety and willingness to communicate. Part 3 aims at studying tutees’ oral L2 skills progress.
The e-tutoring program was offered in two cégep*-level establishments in Trois-Rivières, a unilingual francophone city in the province of Québec (Canada). Ten 30-minute long synchronous e-tutoring sessions were offered by future ESL teachers to young adult ESL learners. The tutoring was part of the students’ weekly assignments, done during class time for part of the participants and done at home for the others. The objective of our presentation is to report on the effects of one-on-one synchronous cross-level e-tutoring on some 50 young adult ESL learner’s quality of answers in terms of:
a. average length of responses;
b. quality of utterances;
c. quality of overall conversation.
We recorded and coded two sessions for each participant, one at the beginning and one at the end of the 10 weeks of tutoring. Results will be presented and implications for future research made.
* In Québec, general and vocational colleges (Cégeps) offer two-year pre-university and three-year technical programs. College education normally follows the fifth year of the secondary cycle. The designation “cégep” is reserved for public institutions; a private college is not a cégep. “College network” includes both types of institutions.
Keywords: Second language learning, distance tutoring.