The Language Learning Activity of Individual Learners Using Online Tasks

Montoro Sanjosé, Carlos Rubin (2013). The Language Learning Activity of Individual Learners Using Online Tasks. EdD thesis The Open University.



This study combines an initial interest in private speech (Flavell 1966; Vygostky 1987; Ohta 2001; Ellis 2003), that is, self-addressed speech, used by individual language learners as they interact with online tasks, with a practice-based concern with the introduction of technology in a new self-access centre at the University of Guanajuato, Mexico. This had been done with little concern for the state of preparedness of learners and practitioners, as is often the case elsewhere (Benson 2001; Donaldson and Haggstrom 2006; Levy 2007; Winke and Goertler 2008). Literature on CALL, autonomy and task-based pedagogy revealed the need for an integrated, broad approach beyond technology itself with a special emphasis on the learning context, sociocultural issues and learner background. Often unexplored, the gap between what teachers plan and what learners do with tasks (Nunan 1989; Coughlan and Duff 1994; Roebuck 2000) began to focus the research efforts on investigating the nature of the language learning activity (Beetham 2007) of individual learners. Following suggestions from various authors from different traditions (e.g., Arnold and Ducate 2011; Lantolf and Poehner 2004; Chapelle 2001; Scanlon and Issroff 2005; Kaptelinin and Nardi 2006), activity theory (Vygotsky 1987; Leontiev 1978; Engeström 1987) was chosen as the most suitable theoretical framework and some of its key concepts, such as disturbances (Engeström and Sannino 2011; see also Montoro and Hampel 2011) and contradictions (Engeström 1987), were used to conduct a two-tiered analysis of empirical data gathered electronically during an online experiment followed by stimulated recall (SR) sessions. Findings include the widespread dependence of learners on private speech, memory and oral instruction and their underuse of learning tools (especially text-based ones such as dictionaries and notes), signalling links to literacy issues to be further explored and the prevalence of orality locally. Future research should explore these literacy issues and practical ways to improve the provision of language learning opportunities.

Viewing alternatives

Download history


Public Attention

Altmetrics from Altmetric

Number of Citations

Citations from Dimensions

Item Actions