Communicative Competence Fostered in a Nested EFL Learning Ecology: Technology-Enhanced Learning in the Chinese Context
Keywords:affordance, WeChat, usage-based approach, feedback loops, formative assessment
This study investigates the self-perceived effectiveness of a nested EFL learning model designed to create an affordance-rich learning ecology to help EFL learners realize the co-evolution of vocabulary knowledge and communicative competence. Adopting an action research approach, this study examined the predicament college students encountered under the CLT paradigm in the Chinese context, and the learning difficulties were identified. A nested EFL learning model was designed to address the issue by creating an effective learning environment in which micro, meso and exo systems interacted with each other to provide multi-mode usage events for the EFL learners’ language development. Quantitative data was collected from two online surveys (N=91) and analyzed with IBM SPSS 26, and qualitative data was elicited from students’ reflective accounts. The results revealed that the model positively affected students' language development regarding their vocabulary acquisition, listening and speaking proficiency. Other benefits derived from the learning experience outside the classroom, represented by an innovative WeCo (We Connect) reports project based on WeChat, are reflected in students’ growing self-confidence as EFL learners and their awakening consciousness to learn English by using the language. Some constructive suggestions were proposed to improve the model. The design in this study provides a solution to the learning difficulties perplexing most EFL learners. It sheds light on how teacher-guided self-regulated English learning beyond the classroom can be augmented by modern technologies to develop communicative competence accompanied by the growth of productive vocabulary knowledge.
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