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ELECTRONIC PORTFOLIOS IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE LEARNING: CREATING A MOTIVATING WRITING CONTEXT IN AN EFL ELEMENTARY CLASS VIA STUDENT WEBFOLIOS

O.S. İnamlık

Eastern Mediterranean University (CYPRUS)
Never-ending innovations in Internet technology introduced an incredibly rich writing medium for foreign language students. Thanks to the Internet, students have had the opportunity to express their thoughts, studies and projects to billions of people from all over the world by publishing them on their web pages. These innovations brought a new dimension to traditional language portfolios, which are used to gather the paragraphs, essays and/or projects of language students to exhibit their progress and achievements over the time. The traditional portfolios, which are usually static and seen by a very limited number of people, sometimes by only a teacher and students, became very dynamic ones when they started to be easily seen by wider audiences such as friends, families, relatives or random visitors. This process introduced a new term, `Web folio`. A web folio design process can be defined as gathering the best pieces of a student’s work on a web page in order too exhibit his/her achievements in the cyber space. In addition to providing the students a new medium to transmit their works to billions of people, the Internet technology has allowed students interact with their audiences via emails, chat boards, or etc. and enriched their works with visuals such as photos, pictures, videos, etc. Thus, writing was changed into a totally more interesting, dynamic and interactive process.

This action reserach study was raised upon the negative propensities of the EFL course students in Turkish Medium Programs (TMP) at Eastern Mediterranean University (EMU) toward the traditional writing activities.
EFL 198 is a second semester English language course for students in the Turkish Language and Literature Department and Turkish Language Teaching Department. This Elementary level must course further develops language and study skills which were introduced in the EFL 197 English course taken in the first semester. In both courses, particular emphasis is placed on improving students` communication skills in writing and speaking.

This action research was conducted to explore if converting the writing instruction in EFL 198 classes into Web folio-based one could provide a motivating, authentic, interesting and technologically easy writing medium and context from the perspectives of 35 EFL 198 students and the researcher, who is also an EFL 198 instructor, by comparing their experiences and perceptions in Web folio design process with the ones in current writing instruction. In order to gather more comprehensive data from all the concerned bodies of the EFL 198 course, the study` s focus was extended by the course instructors` perceptions on web folio-based writing instruction, its feasibility at TMP and its comparison with the recent writing instruction.

The research findings revealed very positive experiences and perceptions from both the students` and the researcher` s perspectives. Both data sources defined the process very interesting, authentic, motivating and easy in terms of technological easiness. Comparing the web folio-based writing with the conventional writing activities in EFL 198 classes, both the students and the EFL 198 instructors found the former more interesting and motivating.

In closing, this thesis study proved that Web folio-based writing process provides very promising results to overcome the motivation problem in EFL 198 classes.