U.S. Foreign Language Student Digital Literacy Habits: Factors Affecting Engagement

  • Jeffrey MaloneyEmail author
Part of the Educational Linguistics book series (EDUL, volume 37)


In today’s academic contexts students are presented with a wide variety of digital technologies that present opportunities for authentic input and interactions with other speakers. Of special importance to consider is the cultivation of digital literacies and their connection with different factors (Guikema & Williams, 2014). Until now, there have been few attempts at linking extramural digital literacy practices with factors such as proficiency, study abroad experience or declared language majors. This study focuses on exploring students’ digital literacy practices in the L2 and draws a connection with the level of daily practices, language proficiency, study abroad experience, and declared language major. A pre-test survey was created and given to roughly 600 American Spanish L2 students that elicited information about tech-use across two indices: technology for language learning (e.g., dictionaries, apps) and technology for entertainment (e.g., movies, social media) in the L2. Surveys were taken before completing ACTFL certified tests in reading, speaking and listening. Findings indicate significant correlations for language proficiency, declared language major and study abroad experience and reported levels of technology use in the L2. Findings are discussed in reference to how to improve student engagement via digital means.


CALL Digital literacies Study abroad Proficiency Spanish as a foreign language ACTFL 


  1. ACTFL. (2012). ACTFL proficiency guidelines. Alexandria, VA: ACTFL. Available from Google Scholar
  2. Álvarez Valencia, J. A. (2016). Language views on social networking sites for language learning: The case of Busuu. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 29(5), 853–867. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Black, R. W. (2009). Online fan fiction, global identities, and imagination. Research in the Teaching of English, 43, 397–425. Google Scholar
  4. Bull, S., & Wasson, B. (2016). Competence visualisation: Making sense of data from 21st-century technologies in language learning. ReCALL, 28(2), 147–165. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Burston, J. (2014). MALL: The pedagogical challenges. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 27(4), 344–357. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Celik, S. (2013). Internet-assisted technologies for English language teaching in Turkish universities. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 26(5), 468–483. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Chapelle, C. A. (2007). Technology and second language acquisition. Annual review of applied linguistics, 27, 98–114. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Chapelle, C. A. (2009). The relationship between second language acquisition theory and computer-assisted language learning. The Modern Language Journal, 93(s1), 741–753. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Chen, X. B. (2013). Tablets for informal language learning: Student usage and attitudes. Language Learning & Technology, 17(1), 20–36. Google Scholar
  10. Chik, A. (2014). Digital gaming and language learning: Autonomy and community. Language, Learning & Technology, 18(2), 85–100. Google Scholar
  11. Chun, D., Kern, R., & Smith, B. (2016). Technology in language use, language teaching, and language learning. Modern Language Journal, 100(S1), 64–80. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cornillie, F., Thorne, S. L., & Desmet, P. (2012). ReCALL special issue: Digital games for language learning: challenges and opportunities. ReCALL, 24(3), 243–256. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Garrett, N. (2009). Computer-assisted language learning trends and issues revisited: Integrating innovation. The Modern Language Journal, 93(s1), 719–740. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Godwin-Jones, R. (2011). Emerging technologies: Autonomous language learning. Language Learning & Technology, 15(3), 4–11. Google Scholar
  15. Grgurović, M., Chapelle, C. A., & Shelley, M. C. (2013). A meta-analysis of effectiveness studies on computer technology-supported language learning. ReCALL, 25(2), 165–198. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Guikema, J. P., & Williams, L. F. (Eds.). (2014). Digital literacies in foreign and second language education. San Marcos, TX: Computer Assisted Language Instruction Consortium (CALICO).Google Scholar
  17. Hafner, C. a., Chik, A., & Jones, R. H. (2013). Engaging with digital literacies in TESOL. TESOL Quarterly, 47(4), 812–815. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hubbard, P. (2013). Making a case for learner training in technology enhanced language learning environments. CALICO Journal, 30(2), 163–178. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Kern, R. (2014). Technology as Pharmakon: The promise and perils of the internet for foreign language education. Modern Language Journal, 98(1), 340–357. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Kinginger, C. (2013). Identity and language learning in study abroad. Foreign Language Annals, 46(3), 339–358. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kline, P. (2013). Handbook of psychological testing. London, UK: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kramsch, C. (2006). From communicative competence to symbolic competence. Modern Language Journal, 90(2), 249–252. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Lai, C. (2015). Modeling teachers’ influence on learners’ self-directed use of technology for language learning outside the classroom. Computers & Education, 82, 74–83. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Lai, C., & Gu, M. (2011). Self-regulated out-of-class language learning with technology. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 24(4), 317–335. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Lai, C., Shum, M., & Tian, Y. (2016). Enhancing learners’ self-directed use of technology for language learning: the effectiveness of an online training platform. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 29(1), 40–60. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Lankshear, C., & Knobel, M. (2008). Digital literacies: Concepts, policies and practices. In C. Lankshear & M. Knobel (Eds.), Digital literacies: Concepts, policies and practices (p. 321). New York, NY: Peter Lang.Google Scholar
  27. Lea, M. R. (2016). Reclaiming literacies: Competing textual practices in a digital higher education. Teaching in Higher Education, 18(1), 106–118. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Lee, L. (2011). Blogging: Promoting learner autonomy and intercultural competence through study abroad. Language Learning & Technology, 15(3), 87–109. Google Scholar
  29. Lee, C., Yeung, A. S., & Ip, T. (2016). Use of computer technology for English language learning: Do learning styles, gender, and age matter? Computer Assisted Language Learning, 29(5), 1035–1051. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Lenhart, A. (2015). Teens, social media & technology overview 2015. Washington, DC: Pew Research Center. Google Scholar
  31. Levy, M. (2009). Technologies in use for second language learning. Modern Language Journal, 93(s1), 769–782. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Levy, M., & Steel, C. (2015). Language learner perspectives on the functionality and use of electronic language dictionaries. ReCALL, 27(2), 177–196. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Lin, H. (2015). A meta-synthesis of empirical research on the effectiveness of computer-mediated communication (CMC) in SLA. Language Learning & Technology, 19(2), 85–117.Google Scholar
  34. Lin, C.-H., Warschauer, M., & Blake, R. (2016). Language learning through social networks: Perceptions and reality. Language Learning & Technology, 20(1), 124–147. Google Scholar
  35. Liu, G. Z., Lu, H. C., & Lai, C. T. (2014). Towards the construction of a field: The developments and implications of mobile assisted language learning (MALL). Literary and Linguistic Computing, 31(1), 164–180. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Meyers, E. M., Erickson, I., & Small, R. V. (2013). Digital literacy and informal learning environments: An introduction. Learning, Media and Technology, 38(4), 355–367. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Pearson Student Mobile Device Survey 2015. (2015). Retrieved from
  38. Peterson, M. (2012). Learner interaction in a massively multiplayer online role playing game (MMORPG): A sociocultural discourse analysis. ReCALL, 24(2012), 361–380. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Peterson, M. (2016). The use of massively multiplayer online role-playing games in CALL: An analysis of research. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 29(7), 1181–1194. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Reinhardt, J., & Zander, V. (2011). Social networking in an intensive English program classroom: A language socialization perspective. CALICO Journal, 28(2), 326–344. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Ryu, D. (2013). Play to learn, learn to play: Language learning through gaming culture. ReCALL, 25(2), 286–301. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Steel, C. H., & Levy, M. (2013). Language students and their technologies: Charting the evolution 2006–2011. ReCALL, 25(3), 306–320. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Sung, K. M., & Tsai, H. M. (2014). Motivation and learner variables: Group differences in college foreign language learners’ motivations. International Journal of Research Studies in Language Learning, 3(2), 43–54. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Sylvén, L. K., & Sundqvist, P. (2012). Gaming as extramural English L2 learning and L2 proficiency among young learners. ReCALL, 24(3), 302–321. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Tanaka, K., & Ellis, R. (2003). Study abroad, language proficiency, and learner beliefs about language learning. JALT journal, 25(1), 63–85. Google Scholar
  46. Thorne, S. L., & Reinhardt, J. (2008). “Bridging Activities,” New media literacies, and advanced foreign language proficiency. CALICO Journal, 25(3), 558–572. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Thorne, S. L., Black, R. W., & Sykes, J. M. (2009). Second language use, socialization, and learning in internet interest communities and online gaming. Modern Language Journal, 93(1), 802–821. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Trinder, R. (2016). Blending technology and face-to-face: Advanced students’ choices. ReCALL, 28(1), 83–102. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. White, K. D. (2016). Cultures and communities in the virtual world: Beginning the exploration. IALLT Journal of Language Learning Technologies, 43(2). Retrieved from:
  50. Williams, L., Abraham, L., & Bostelmann, E. D. (2014). A survey-driven study of the use of digital tools for language learning and teaching. In J. P. Guikema & L. Williams (Eds.), Digital literacies in foreign and second language education (pp. 29–67). San Marcos, TX: Computer Assisted Language Instruction Consortium (CALICO).Google Scholar
  51. Winke, P., & Goertler, S. (2008). Students’ computer access and literacy for CALL. CALICO Journal, 25(3), 482–509. CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Languages and LiteratureNortheastern State UniversityTahlequahUSA

Personalised recommendations