Blended learning and language learning

Blended learning has been a buzzword in the field of education for the past few years. This approach combines traditional face-to-face instruction with online learning, offering a range of benefits for both teachers and learners

Book, Computer, Education, Laptop, School Building
Photo credit: Artisteer

As we all know, learning a new language can be a challenging and time-consuming process. But what if there was a way to make language learning more enjoyable and effective for our students? Blended learning has been a buzzword in the field of education for the past few years. This approach combines traditional face-to-face instruction with online learning, offering a range of benefits for both teachers and learners. In this article, we will explore the concept of blended learning, whether it works in a language learning classroom setting, and also discuss some popular implementation models for blended learning.

💡 Lessons learnt: Think outside the box, unfold the box, reshape the box.

Traditional Learning: Traditional learning for language learning typically involves attending classes in a physical classroom with a teacher and other students. This approach often follows a structured curriculum and relies heavily on textbooks and lectures. Traditional learning can be effective for learners who benefit from regular interaction with a teacher and peers, as well as hands-on practice and feedback.

Online Learning: Online learning for language learning involves accessing educational materials and interactive activities through the Internet. This approach can be self-paced and allows learners to study at their own pace and from any location with an internet connection and also gives educators the flexibility to easily track their students' progress. Online learning can be effective for learners who prefer a flexible schedule and the ability to study independently.

Blended Learning: Blended learning for language learning is a combination of traditional and online learning approaches. In blended learning, learners attend physical classes with a teacher and other students but also have access to online resources for additional practice and support. This approach allows learners to benefit from both in-person interaction and online flexibility.


As technology continues to evolve, we expect to see more innovative methods of education that combine the best of traditional and online learning. A recent meta-analysis study (Wenwen 2023) reported that blended learning can lead to improved performance, attitude, and achievement in many countries(educational environments). The study also concludes that blended learning may not be suitable for all types of students or settings. Therefore, it is recommended that educators consider the needs of their students and the learning environment before deciding whether or not to adopt a blended approach.

Does Blended learning work for teaching languages?

In a blended learning environment, learners have more control over their learning pace and style, which can increase their motivation and engagement. Students can attend traditional language classes where they can interact with their teacher and classmates, practice speaking and listening skills, and receive immediate feedback. They are also able to supplement their learning with readily available online resources, such as language practice exercises and multimedia resources, that allow them to practice and improve their language skills on their own schedule.

In a research study aimed at determining the effectiveness of blended learning in a high school Japanese class, the results concluded that students taught with the blended approach had better outcomes than those taught with conventional methods. (Maryati et al 2022).

In another study investigating the effectiveness of teaching the English language, quantitative and qualitative surveys conducted on both ELT instructors and English language learners corroborate the conclusion that the implementation of a blended approach is essential in the digital age. "The overwhelming response of both ELT specialists and ELT students is in favor of the implementation of a blended approach in teaching and learning language skills. The balanced unification of offline and online approaches has immense potential to enhance the effectiveness of teaching and learning language skills", the report says (Ahmad 2021).

Another case study investigated the use of a flipped learning approach for teaching Chinese as a foreign language to first-year students. The study looked at data from two classes, one with traditional instruction and one using the flipped approach, to see if there were differences in learning outcomes and student satisfaction. The results showed that students in the flipped class performed better in speaking and reported higher levels of self-directedness, more practice in class, and greater interest in the subject. (Yang et al 2018).

Blended learning also provides language learners more opportunities to practice and improve their language skills. As noted by Thorne and Reinhardt (2008), online tools such as discussion forums, blogs, and wikis can offer language learners more opportunities to write, read, and interact in the target language. Online language learning platforms such as Duolingo and Rosetta Stone also provide learners with personalized and adaptive language practice, which can enhance their language proficiency.

Implementing blended learning in language education

  1. Rotation Model: In this model, students rotate between different learning stations, which can include traditional classroom instruction, online activities, and small group work. It is for the educator to decide how much time is spent in face-to-face learning and how much is spent online. For example, students could spend 20 minutes in a language lab practicing grammar exercises on the computer, followed by 20 minutes of one-to-one conversation practice with a tutor, and then 20 minutes of peer-to-peer conversation practice with classmates. The rotation can be done on a fixed schedule or an as-needed basis.
  2. Flipped Classroom Model: In this model, students watch pre-recorded video lectures or complete online activities at home before coming to class. During class time, teachers facilitate hands-on activities and discussions to reinforce and deepen the learning that took place online. This model allows for more individualized attention and interaction with the teacher during class time.
  3. Flex Model: In this model, the majority of learning takes place online, with students working at their own pace. Teachers provide support and guidance as needed, but the bulk of the instruction is delivered through digital resources. Face-to-face instruction can be scheduled as needed for small group or individual support.
  4. A La Carte Model: In this model, students take individual courses online to supplement their traditional classroom instruction. This can be useful for students who need extra help in certain areas or who want to accelerate their learning in a particular subject. The online courses can be taken on a self-paced basis and can be tailored to the student's individual needs.

Adiutor

Adiutor means "helper" - we do just that, by taking a load of your school administration and helping you focus on what matters most: the kids.

References


Cao W. (2023). A meta-analysis of effects of blended learning on performance, attitude, achievement, and engagement across different countries https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2023.1212056


Bergmann, J., & Sams, A. (2012). Flip your classroom: Reach every student in every class every day. International Society for Technology in Education.

Boulton, A., Cobb, T., & Lou, M. (2018). The FLAX language system: Digital language tools for personalized learning. Routledge.

Kim, K. J., & Bonk, C. J. (2006). The future of online teaching and learning in higher education: The survey says… Educause Quarterly, 29(4), 22-30.

Lai C., Li G. (2011). Technology and task-based language teaching: A critical review. https://www.jstor.org/stable/calicojournal.28.2.498


Maryati L., Rafli Z., Setiadi S. (2022) Effect of Blended Learning in high school Japanese Language Learning outcomes


Yang J.,Yin C., Wang W. (2018). Flipping the Classroom in Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language


Ahmad J. (2021). Effectiveness of Blended Approach in Teaching and Learning of Language Skills in Saudi Context: A Case Study


Thorne, S. L., & Reinhardt, J. (2008). “Bridging activities,” new media literacies and advanced foreign language proficiency. CALICO Journal, 25(3), 558-572.

Warschauer, M., & Matuchniak, T. (2010). New technology and digital worlds: Analyzing evidence of equity in access, use, and outcomes. Review of Research in Education, 34(1), 179-225.