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English learning with Web 2.0 – An investigation into Chinese undergraduates’ technology (non)use and perspectives

Zeng, Shuang (2015) English learning with Web 2.0 – An investigation into Chinese undergraduates’ technology (non)use and perspectives. PhD thesis, UCL Institute of Education.

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Moving beyond the ‘Web 2.0’ and ‘digital native’ rhetoric, this thesis investigates what Chinese undergraduates are actually doing (and not doing) with online tools and applications to learn English outside the classroom and, why they choose to do so. Particular attention is paid to their use and non-use of the social web in their English learning context. A sociocultural framework is adopted to understand learners’ behaviours surrounding digital technology. This theoretical position puts learners at the centre of their English learning and decision-making regarding technology use. It guides the exploration into the contextually mediated choices and practices of English learners in the so-called ‘2.0’ era. Data collection for this mixed sequential study took place during the 2010-2011 academic year. The data consist of a survey of 1,485 undergraduates and semi-structured interviews with 49 participants in two large Chinese universities. The data demonstrate a few embryonic signs of how Chinese undergraduates try to ‘escape’ from their English learning context with online technologies. However, a vast majority of the participants chose to use the web as an instrument to handle their academic duties. When it comes to English learning, their use of Web 2.0 is limited and mostly non-interactive and unspectacular. In light of the above, the thesis goes on to consider a number of contextual factors that appear to constrain participants’ use of technology – not least the discourses of English learning and the cultural artefact of exams. Based on these findings, the thesis provides a framework that challenges existing beliefs about (language) learning with Web 2.0, and that contributes to understandings of how context mediates language learners’ behaviours surrounding digital technologies. The thesis concludes by suggesting ways of maximizing the learning potential of Web 2.0 for English learners at Chinese universities.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Subjects: Departments > Culture, Communication and Media
Depositing User: Mr Julian Zerfahs
Date Deposited: 02 Jun 2015 16:45
Last Modified: 02 Jun 2015 16:45
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