Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Foreign language learning in the age of the internet : a comparison of informal acquirers and traditional classroom learners in central Brazil
Author: Cole, Jason
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2015
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Full text unavailable from EThOS. Restricted access.
Access from Institution:
Several recent studies (e.g., Benson and Chik, 2010; Sockett, 2014) suggest that as a result of changes in technology and the concomitant emergence of a globalized culture, highly effective out-of-class, informal English acquisition is becoming more common. The present study compared high-level, well-motivated Central Brazilian classroom-trained learners (CTLs) with fully autonomous self-instructed learners (FASILs) of similar backgrounds. Using linguistic tests, a questionnaire and a structured interview, the study analysed group differences as well as individual differences in language proficiency, learner histories, behaviour, beliefs, and attitudes. The key research question asked whether there existed, in more than rare circumstances, FASILs who attained levels of proficiency at least as high as highly-motivated, well-trained CTLs? Furthermore, if the knowledge and skills of FASILs were, in some respects, superior to those of CTLs, what variables accounted for the advantage? FASILs significantly outperformed CTLs across a battery of linguistic tests measuring a range of knowledge and skills. Test results indicated that while CTLs tended to plateau at upper intermediate levels, FASILs generally improved through advanced levels, often achieving native-like levels of knowledge and use. The strongest contributing factor to proficiency was found to be self-determined motivation driven by a personalized relationship with English often marked by a transnational identity. The evidence suggests this type of motivation, significantly more associated with FASILs than CTLs, led users to engage deeply with the linguistic details of informal sources. The findings challenge dominant paradigms in several fields of SLA which prioritize expert regulation over independent discovery and controlled, collaborative environments over real-world contexts of use entered into for personal reasons. A hoped for consequence of this study is that SLA research and teaching practice will begin to recognize and promote rather than regulate or dismiss the unique learning arcs that more and more English learners experience in their everyday lives.
Supervisor: Vanderplank, Robert Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Second language acquisition ; Language and languages--Study and teaching--Brazil ; Language and languages--Study and teaching--Computer network resources ; English language--Self-instruction ; Education--Social aspects--Brazil