Advertisement

Self-Directed Language Learning: A Semiotic Analysis of a Language Learning App

  • Wing Yee Jenifer HoEmail author
Chapter

Abstract

Virtual learning sites give learners unprecedented control and autonomy over their own learning. The flexible learning pathway is mainly contributed by the design of the apps, which offers a variety of linguistic and semiotic resources for language learning. So far, there is only limited research on the multimodal design of language learning apps. This chapter examines the semiotic arrangement of the Memrise app, which is a multilingual virtual learning site with a focus on vocabulary learning. In particular, this chapter aims to (1) map out the kind of resources that are provided for learners, (2) the way these resources are realised in the design of the app and (3) the way in which these resources are orchestrated and contribute to language learning through conducting multimodal social semiotic analysis. This chapter concludes with a critical view of the use of technology in education.

Keywords

Virtual learning sites Language learning Multimodality Social semiotics 

Notes

Acknowledgement

First and foremost, thanks must be given to the Bloomsbury Colleges PhD Studentship for funding the PhD project in which the data of this study is drawn from. I would also like to thank the Memrise team, in particular Ed Cooke and Ben Whately, for their support in this project. I would also like to thank the editors for providing constructive feedback which greatly improves the quality of the chapter. Thanks must also be given to Heidi Chan for her help in preparing this manuscript.

References

  1. Adami, E. (2014a). Multimodal Analysis of Aesthetics: Two Versions of a Food Blog Compared. NCRM Working Paper 05/14.Google Scholar
  2. Adami, E. (2014b). What’s in a Click? A Social Semiotic Framework for the Multimodal Analysis of Website Interactivity. Visual Communication, 14(2), 133–153.  https://doi.org/10.1177/1470357214565583CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Adami, E. (2015). Aesthetics in Digital Texts Beyond Writing: A Social Semiotic Multimodal Framework. In A. Archer & E. Breuer (Eds.), Multimodality in Writing: The State of the Art in Theory, Methodology and Pedagogy (pp. 43–62). Leiden: Brill.Google Scholar
  4. Adami, E. (2018a). Shaping Public Spaces from Below: The Vernacular Semiotics of Leeds Kirkgate Market. Social Semiotics, 1–25.  https://doi.org/10.1080/10350330.2018.1531515
  5. Adami, E. (2018b). Styling the Self Online: Semiotic Technologization in Weblog Publishing. Social Semiotics, 28(5), 601–622.  https://doi.org/10.1080/10350330.2018.1504713CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Alm, A. (2006). CALL for Autonomy, Competence and Relatedness: Motivating Language Learning Environments in Web 2.0. JALT CALL Journal, 2(3), 29–38.Google Scholar
  7. Bezemer, J., & Kress, G. (2016a). Multimodality, Learning, and Communication. New York and London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  8. Bezemer, J., & Kress, G. (2016b). The Textbook in a Changing Multimodal Landscape. In N.-M. Klug & H. Stöckl (Eds.), Handbuch Sprache im multimodalen Kontext (pp. 476–498). Berlin and Boston: De GruyterMouton.Google Scholar
  9. Brick, B. (2011). Social Networking Sites and Language Learning. International Journal of Virtual and Personal Learning Environments, 2(3), 18–31.  https://doi.org/10.4018/jvple.2011070102CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Brick, B. (2012). The Role of Social Networking Sites for Language Learning in UK Higher Education. International Journal of Computer-Assisted Language Learning and Teaching, 2(3), 35–53.  https://doi.org/10.4018/ijcallt.2012070103CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Buckingham, D., & Scanlon, M. (2005). Selling Learning: Towards a Political Economy of Edutainment Media. Media, Culture and Society, 27(1), 41–58.  https://doi.org/10.1177/0163443705049057CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Burston, J. (2014). The Reality of MALL: Still on the Fringes. CALICO Journal, 31(1), 103–125.  https://doi.org/10.11139/cj.31.1.103-125CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Chapelle, C. (1998). Multimedia CALL: Lessons to Be Learned from Research on Instructed SLA. Language Learning & Technology, 2(1), 21–36.Google Scholar
  14. Chapelle, C. A. (2009). The Relationship Between Second Language Acquisition Theory and Computer-Assisted Language Learning. The Modern Language Journal, 93, 741–753.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Chik, A. (2015). Recreational Language Learning and Digital Practices: Positioning and Repositioning. In R. Jones, A. Chik, & C. Hafner (Eds.), Discourse and Digital Practices: Doing Discourse Analysis in the Digital Age (pp. 112–129). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  16. Fletcher, W. H. (2007). Concordancing the Web: Promise and Problems, Tools and Techniques. In M. Hundt, N. Nesselhauf, & C. Biewer (Eds.), Corpus Linguistics and the Web. Amsterdam/New York: Rodopi.Google Scholar
  17. Gallagher, S., & Zahavi, D. (2008). Phenomenological Mind: An Introduction to Philosophy of Mind and Cognitive Science. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  18. Godwin-Jones, R. (2012). Digital Video Revisited: Storytelling, Conferencing, Remixing. Language Learning & Technology, 16(1), 1–9. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eric&AN=EJ972342&site=ehost-live&scope=citeGoogle Scholar
  19. Hafner, C. A. (2015). Remix Culture and English Language Teaching: The Expression of Learner Voice in Digital Multimodal Compositions. TESOL Quarterly, 49(3), 486–509.  https://doi.org/10.1002/tesq.238CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hampel, R., & Pleines, C. (2013). Fostering Student Interaction and Engagement in a Virtual Learning Environment: An Investigation into Activity Design and Implementation. CALICO Journal, 30(3), 342–370.  https://doi.org/10.11139/cj.30.3.342-370CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hampel, R., & Stickler, U. (2012). The Use of Videoconferencing to Support Multimodal Interaction in an Online Language Classroom. ReCALL, 24(2), 116–137.  https://doi.org/10.1017/S095834401200002XCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Harrison, R., & Thomas, M. (2009). Identity in Online Communities: Social Networking Sites and Language Learning. International Journal of Emerging Technologies & Society, 7(2), 109–124.Google Scholar
  23. Healey, D. (2007). Theory and Research: Autonomy and Language. In J. Egbert & E. Hanson-Smith (Eds.), CALL Environments: Research, Practice, and Critical Issues (2nd ed.). Alexandria, VA: Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages.Google Scholar
  24. Ho, W. Y. (2018a). Mobility and Language Learning: A Case Study on the Use of an Online Platform to Learn Chinese as a Foreign Language. London Review of Education, 16(2), 239–249.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Ho, W. Y. (2018b). Translanguaging in Online Language Learning: Case Studies of Self-Directed Chinese Learning of Multilingual Adults. Unpublished PhD thesis, UCL Institute of Education, University College London, UK.Google Scholar
  26. Iedema, R. (2003). Multimodality, Resemiotization: Extending the Analysis of Discourse as Multi-semiotic Practice. Visual Communication, 2(1), 29–57.  https://doi.org/10.1177/1470357203002001751CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Isbell, D. R., Rawal, H., Oh, R., & Loewen, S. (2017). Narrative Perspectives on Self-Directed Foreign Language Learning in a Computer- and Mobile-Assisted Language Learning Context. Languages, 2(4), 1–20.  https://doi.org/10.3390/languages2020004CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Jewitt, C. (2009). An Introduction to Multimodality. In C. Jewitt (Ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Multimodal Analysis (pp. 14–27). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  29. Jewitt, C. (2013). Multimodal Methods for Researching Digital Technologies. In S. Price, C. Jewitt, & B. Brown (Eds.), The SAGE Handbook of Digital Technology Research (pp. 250–265). Los Angeles and London: SAGE.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Jones, R. H., & Hafner, C. A. (2012). Understanding Digital Literacies: A Practical Introduction. New York: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Kan, Q., Owen, N., & Bax, S. (2018). Researching Mobile-Assisted Chinese-Character Learning Strategies Among Adult Distance Learners. Innovation in Language Learning and Teaching, 12, 1–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Kress, G. (2009). Assessment in the Perspective of a Social Semiotic Theory of Multimodal Teaching and Learning. In C. Wyatt-Smith & J. J. Cumming (Eds.), Educational Assessment in the 21st Century (pp. 19–41). Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands.  https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-9964-9CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Kress, G. (2010). Multimodality: A Social Semiotic Approach to Contemporary Communication. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  34. Kress, G. (2015). Semiotic Work: Applied Linguistics and a Social Semiotic Account of Multimodality. AILA Review, 28, 49–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Kress, G., & van Leeuwen, T. (2006). Reading Images: The Grammar of Visual Design (2nd ed.). London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Kukulska-Hulme, A. (2009). Will Mobile Learning Change Language Learning? ReCALL, 21(2), 157–165.  https://doi.org/10.1017/S0958344009000202CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Lai, C. (2013). A Framework for Developing Self-Directed Technology Use for Language Learning. Language Learning & Technology, 17(2), 100–122.Google Scholar
  38. Lamy, M. N., & Goodfellow, R. (1999). “Reflective Conversation” in the Virtual Classroom. Language Learning & Technology, 2(2), 43–61. Retrieved from http://llt.msu.edu/vol2num2/article2/Google Scholar
  39. Levy, M., & Stockwell, G. (2006). CALL Dimensions: Options and Issues in Computer-Assisted Language Learning. Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  40. Li, W. (2011). Moment Analysis and Translanguaging Space: Discursive Construction of Identities by Multilingual Chinese Youth in Britain. Journal of Pragmatics, 43(5), 1222–1235.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2010.07.035CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Li, W. (2018). Translanguaging as a Practical Theory of Language. Applied Linguistics, 39(1), 9–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Li, W., & Ho, W. Y. (2018). Language Learning Sans Frontiers: A Translanguaging View. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 38, 33–59.  https://doi.org/10.1017/S0267190518000053CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Littlejohn, A. (2011). The Analysis of Language Teaching Materials: Inside the Trojan Horse. In B. Tomlinson (Ed.), Materials Development in Language Teaching (pp. 179–211). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  44. Liu, M., Abe, K., Cao, M. W., Liu, S., Ok, D. U., Park, J., et al. (2015). An Analysis of Social Network Websites for Language Learning: Implications for Teaching and Learning English as a Second Language. CALICO Journal, 32(1), 113–152. http://dx.doi.org.myaccess.library.utoronto.ca/10.1558/cj.v32i1.114-152CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Liu, M., Evans, M. K., Horwitz, E., Lee, S., McCrory, M., Park, J.-B., et al. (2013). A Study of the Use of Social Network Sites for Language Learning by University ESL Students. In M.-N. Lamy & K. Zourou (Eds.), Social Networking for Language Education (pp. 137–157). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Livingstone, S. (2012). Critical Reflections on the Benefits of ICT in Education. Oxford Review of Education, 38(1), 9–24.  https://doi.org/10.1080/03054985.2011.577938CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Macaro, E., Handley, Z., & Walter, C. (2012). A Systematic Review of CALL in English as a Second Language: Focus on Primary and Secondary Education. Language Teaching, 45(1), 1–43.  https://doi.org/10.1017/S0261444811000395CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Motteram, G. (2011). Developing Language-Learning Materials with Technology. In B. Tomlinson (Ed.), Materials Development in Language Teaching (pp. 303–327). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  49. Pachler, N., Bachmair, B., & Cook, J. (2010). Mobile Learning: Structures, Agency, Practices. New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Pennycook, A., & Otsuji, E. (2014). Metrolingual Multitasking and Spatial Repertoires: ‘Pizza Mo Two Minutes Coming’. Journal of Sociolinguistics, 18(2), 161–184.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Reinders, H., & Lewis, M. (2005). How Well Do Self-Access CALL Materials Support Self-Directed Learning? The JALT CALL Journal, 1(2), 41–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Selwyn, N. (2015). Technology and Education – Why It’s Crucial to Be Critical. In S. Bulfin, N. F. Johnson, & C. Bigum (Eds.), Critical Perspectives on Technology and Education (pp. 245–256). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Shen, H. H. (2005). An Investigation of Chinese-Character Learning Strategies Among Non-native Speakers of Chinese. System, 33, 49–68.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.system.2004.11.001CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Shen, H. H., & Ke, C. (2007). Radical Awareness and Word Acquisition Among Nonnative Learners of Chinese. Modern Language Journal, 91(1), 97–111.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-4781.2007.00511.xCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Stevenson, M. P., & Liu, M. (2010). Learning a Language with Web 2.0: Exploring the Use of Social Networking Features of Foreign Language Learning Websites. CALICO Journal, 27(2), 233–259.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Swain, M. (2006). Languaging, Agency and Collaboration in Advanced Second Language Proficiency. In H. Byrnes (Ed.), Advanced Language Learning: The Contribution of Halliday and Vygotsky (pp. 95–108). London: Continuum.Google Scholar
  57. Swain, M., & Lapkin, S. (2013). A Vygotskian Sociocultural Perspective on Immersion Education: The L1/L2 Debate. Journal of Immersion and Content-Based Language Education, 1(1), 101–129.  https://doi.org/10.1075/jicb.1.1.05swaCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Terhune, N. M. (2015). Language Learning Going Global: Linking Teachers and Learners Via Commercial Skype-Based CMC. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 29(6), 1–21.  https://doi.org/10.1080/09588221.2015.1061020Google Scholar
  59. Ushida, E. (2013). The Role of Students’ Attitudes and Motivation in Second Language Learning in Online Language Courses. CALICO Journal, 23(1), 49–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Xing, Z. J. (2006). Teaching and Learning Chinese as a Foreign Language: A Pedagogical Grammar. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press.Google Scholar
  61. Zourou, K. (2012). On the Attractiveness of Social Media for Language Learning: A Look at the State of the Art. Retrieved from https://alsic.revues.org/2436
  62. Zourou, K., & Loiseau, M. (2013). Bridging Design and Language Interaction and Reuse in Livemocha’s Culture Section. In M.-N. Lamy & K. Zourou (Eds.), Social Networking for Language Education (pp. 77–99). London: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EnglishCity University of Hong KongHong KongChina

Personalised recommendations