Open practices in ELT: some teacher education resources

I’m dusting off some teacher education resources for the new academic year

Connections between learners

Story Slam

Moth story

an example of a technology-mediated task: storytelling with second year students of English, Media & Communication.

  • the teacher prepares introductory lesson using a Moth story with transcript prepared on storyscribe
  • students talk in class, record on smartphones, then upload a recording to SoundCloud
  • the teacher creates a Google Form to collect SoundCloud links (see also Form tips here)
  • the teacher creates a generic message on gmail for individual feedback
  • the teacher makes a webpage for general feedback including resources for further study (WordPress, Google sites or Weebly)

NB: play safe (learner/parental authorisation) and play fair (copyright/creative commons)

Screen Shot 2018-09-18 at 10.21.30ITILTnewLOGOillu

Connections across classes

Who’s who? task

Primary EFL class exchange (France-Germany)

The French primary class makes a set of video selfies to send to a partner class in Germany, using English as a lingua franca. The German class does the same, and each class watches their partners’ videos to identify the pupils in a group photo.


  • Tablet technology: to make and share their video selfies, the learners used the iPad camera
  • Online sharing: for exchanging videos, the teachers used Google Drive and Gmail.
  • Classroom exploitation: to watch the videos, the teachers used
      • iPads
      • a laptop computer (with projector)
      • an IWB.
  • Video-stimulated recall: to facilitate discussion of classroom activities, the teacher educator used
    • camera, microphone, tripod
    • iMovie video editing application
    • Vimeo video sharing platform (

Screen Shot 2018-09-18 at 10.25.22

Connections with colleagues

Peer filming in task-based language teacher education

This activity was designed for first year students in our Masters in Teaching English programme at the University of Nice. It involves peer filming, where student teachers watch each other teach an activity in a secondary school EFL class and make video recordings using their smartphones. They then select an episode for discussion in their university class, and write up their analysis in a reflective paper.

Going further

Digital tools for the language classroom

iTILT mini-guides to technology for language teachers

  • digital resources
  • digital tools
  • digital networks

12 tools plus 1: Basic tools for language education

Going open with LangOER: advice for using and sharing open educational resources

ViLTE project

Task-based language teaching

Musicuentos Black Box video series (YouTube) – a set of presentations explaining classroom implications of second language research

PPP or TBLT? (slideshare) – explaining the difference between presentation-practice-production (PPP) and task-based language teaching (TBLT)

Language educators working with specific languages


EFL Classroom 2.0 (D Deubelbeiss)

Learning technologies for EFL (S Whyte)

TESOL teaching and learning website (P Chappell)


TICE et langues (J Wagner)

En français (A Creuzé)


Videos für den DaF-Unterricht (via Bianka Fuchs)

UNS student teachers 2013


Las TICE en el aula de ELE (J Wagner)

UNS student teachers 2013

Technology and language learning (Y Asencion)


1. Goals for language education

    • Kramsch, C. (2018). Is there still a place for culture in a multilingual FL education? Langscape Journal, 1. doi 10.18452/19039

A recent discussion of critical approaches to foreign language education tackling intercultural and symbolic competence and multilingual practices, including criticism of stereotypical attitudes to FL culture in textbooks. Read some extracts here.

    • Unsworth, S., Persson, L., Prins, T., & De Bot, K. 2014, An investigation of factors affecting early foreign language learning in the Netherlands. Applied Linguistics.

Research on young and very young learners of English in the Netherlands (summary)

    • Whyte, S. (2016). Who are the specialists? Teaching and learning specialised language in French educational contexts. Recherches et pratiques pédagogiques en langue de spécialité, 35(3) [link]

Modern foreign languages, second language research and languages for specific purposes: what are the intersections and what does this mean for language teaching and learning?

    • Whyte, S. (2014). Digital pencil sharpening: technology integration and language learning autonomy. EL.LE, 3(1): 31-53. Università Ca’ Foscari, Venezia. [PDF]

This article discusses pedagogical goals in language education and gives suggestions for how teachers can create conditions for language acquisition to occur using classroom technologies.

2. Language teacher education

    • Bland, J. (Ed.). (2015). Teaching English to young learners: critical issues in language teaching with 3-12 year olds. London: Bloomsbury.

A collective volume on ELT with younger learners focusing on research and practice in key areas of language education.

    • Cutrim Schmid, E., & Whyte, S. (Eds.) (2014). Teaching languages with technology: communicative approaches to interactive whiteboard use. A resource book for teacher development. London: Bloomsbury.

This book offers a collection of classroom case studies showing how different language teachers integrated the interactive whiteboard into communicative approaches in a variety of contexts (ages, languages, proficiency levels).

    • Edwards, C., & Willis, J. R. (Eds.). (2005). Teachers exploring tasks in English language teaching. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

A collection of action/exploratory research projects conducted by graduate students in language education to address questions and problems arising in their own teaching contexts. A good source for replication for student-teachers new to classroom research.

    • Whyte, S. (2015). Implementing and Researching Technological Innovation in Language Teaching: The Case of Interactive Whiteboards for EFL in French Schools. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.

A study of 9 French EFL teachers (4 primary, 2 lower secondary, 2 upper secondary, and 1 teacher educator) learning to integrate interactive technologies in their classrooms through an extended collaborative action research project. It seeks to explain differences in uptake of new pedagogical and technological affordances.

3. Task-based language teaching

Compare these two articles:

    • Anderson, J. (2016). ‘Why practice makes perfect sense: The past, present and future potential of the PPP paradigm in language teacher education’. ELTED, 19: 14-21.
    • Ellis, R. (2013). Task-based language teaching: Responding to the critics. University of Sydney Papers in TESOL, 8(1), 1-27.

See also

    • Erlam, R. (2015). ‘I’m still not sure what a task is’: Teachers designing language tasks. Language Teaching Research.
    • Erlam, R. (2013). Listing and comparing tasks in the language classroom: Examples of Willis and Willis’s (2007) taxonomy in practice. The New Zealand Language Teacher, 39,7-14.

Language teaching and language corpora: second TaLC plenary

The second plenary at the 13th Teaching and Language Corpora conference held in Cambridge in July 2018 was delivered by Anne O’Keefe of Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick (see TaLC 2018 conference links and references for first plenary by Susan Hunston).  Her topic was the interface of data-driven learning (DDL) with second language acquisition (SLA).

O’Keeffe’s talk brought together a discussion of the interface debate in SLA recently addressed in Han and Finneran (2013) with language learning theories underpinning data-driven learning tackled by Lynne Flowerdew (2015). Her slides are here. I start by looking at the background to the interface debate and the learning theories in turn, using O’Keeffe’s references (in her slides and below) plus some other reading.

The interface debate in SLA

Han and Finneran (2013) provide the background to this debate which compares explicit, conscious learning of second language lexis, morphosyntax, and phonology with implicit, intuitive identification of constructions and form-function mapping. Explicit learning is operationalised as metalinguistic knowledge used in careful writing and pedagogical exercises, for example, while implicit learning is thought to inform spontaneous, unplanned spoken production under pressure of time, for instance.

The interface question concerns the relationship between the two. The strong interface position claims that everything in language is learnable and teachable, and that explicit learning becomes implicit over time (cf skill acquisition theory, DeKeyser 2007). The weak interface position maintains a view that everything is learnable, and posits limited conversion of explicit to implicit learning. R Ellis (2002, 2008) claims that explicit learning can become implicit only when a learner is developmentally ready. N Ellis (2002, 2005) takes the usage-based position that the majority of L2 learning is implicit, but explicit learning can “re-tune” L1-influenced pattern detectors to help learners attend to relevant features of L2 input. Finally the non-interface position states that not everything is learnable, that language acquisition is too complex to be accomplished through explicit learning, and that what is learned explicitly cannot be accessed implicitly (“is not deployable in real, spontaneous communication,” Han & Finneran, 2013: 4). This last position is most famously espoused by Krashen (1977) and has strongly influenced L2 teaching via communicative language teaching (CLT).

Han and Finneran (2013) review studies supporting each position and note an evolution in SLA research from a non-interface position in the 1980s, when Chomskyan Universal Grammar dominated linguistic theory, to a weak-interface position following an increase in research in instructed SLA since 2000. These authors interpret ongoing debate on the interface question as evidence for the validity of each, and call for more fine-grained analysis to determine which domains of SLA seem to allow which type of interface. They go on to review evidence from a study of fossilisation showing variability across learners and morphosyntactic structures, which they interpret in the light of the interface debate. Backsliding and synchronous variability, they claim, suggest no interface, while the maintenance in interlanguage of nontargetlike forms suggests a strong interface. This interpretation “speaks to a possible co-existence of the presence and absence of explicit-implicit interface within any given interlanguage” (Han & Finneran 2013: 12). They therefore conclude with a call for a research programme to investigate “which aspects of grammar are susceptible to a strong interface, a weak interface, or no interface across and within second language learners? (Han & Finneran 2013: 14).

Language learning theories and DDL teaching

Flowerdew’s chapter on language learning theories announces three different approaches to anchoring DDL activities in the larger language learning enterprise, one cognitivist (noticing in usage-based approaches) and the others constructivist (including discovery and experiential learning,  as well as learner agency); she adds a section on learning styles.

For me one of the best rationales for DDL remains Cobb (2005). Data-driven learning involves learners in “grappling with raw data” as Cobb explains in his discussion of constructivism:

representations constructed from grappling with raw data, as opposed to representations resulting from someone else’s having grappled, are not just generally “better” in some vague way but specifically are more successfully transferred to novel contexts and form a better preparation for further independent learning. This paradigm also proposes a methodology for helping learners perform this grappling with raw data, namely the adaptation of the tools and methods that experts have developed over the years to help them with their own grappling. Like learners, experts in any domain experience difficulties in their encounters with unencoded data, but unlike learners they have developed tools and methods to overcome these difficulties

Cobb thus values inductive over deductive approaches to data-driven vocabulary learning, for instance. His work is cited in Flowerdew (2015), a chapter cited by O’Keeffe and outlined in the table below. The pedagogical implications and DDL activities are from Flowerdew’s chapter with some supplementary definitions and links which I have added.

noticing hypothesis
“intake is that part of the input that the learner notices”
Schmidt (1990: 139)
  • learners’ acquisition of linguistic input is more likely to increase if their attention is consciously drawn to linguistic features” (16)
  • concordance-based tasks requiring students to attend to recurrent phrases would seem to be an ideal means for enhancing learners’ input via noticing, leading to uptake (20)
  • teacher-directed noticing activities
  1. hypothesis formation through inductive corpus-based exercises
  2. explicit explanations from the teacher to confirm or correct these hypotheses
  3. hypothesis testing through follow-up exercises
  4. learner production
  • pattern-hunting (turning up ideas and expressions) versus pattern-defining (checking a specific target pattern)
exploratory, experiential, discovery, process-based learning
“learners should not be handed fully formed or “pre-emptively encoded” word meanings, but rather should grapple with raw evidence, constructing their own meanings out of numerous partial encounters with instances” Cobb (2005)
  • “the more possible starting points a corpus offers for exploitation, the more likely it is that there exists an appropriate starting point for a specific learner” (Widman et al 2011) (24)
  • students toggle between the ‘inductive’ sup-corpora and the ‘deductive’ grammar guide (25)
sociocultural theory
learning styles
peer interaction
learner agency
“socially situated models of cognition, […] view interaction as a context for cognition, rather than vice versa. Rather than judging interaction in terms of its outcome for learning, learning is viewed an an inevitable outcome of interaction” Whyte (2011)
inductive vs deductive learning, field dependence vs field independence
  • group work in association with corpus activities
  • learner choice to encourage greater autonomy
depth of knowledge: building an integrated lexicon
breadth of knowledge: increase vocabulary size

Where SLA meets DDL

O’Keeffe argues that the SLA debate over the respective contributions of explicit and implicit learning has important consequences for DDL. She outlines the three positions described by Han and Finneran (2013) and draws the following implications:

  1.  the strong interface position implies a teaching focus on forms, that is, overt teaching of a discrete-item grammatical syllabus
  2.  the weak interface position implies focus on form_, that is, a meaning-focused activities with occasional brief switches of attention to form
  3. the non-interface position implies a teaching focus on meaning only.

She discusses the type of empirical results required to test the validity of each hypothesis, suggesting the importance of research design and instruments with respect to test items, tasks, learner factors, and teachers. She suggests that if the strong interface position is correct, learners will use forms correctly in controlled and free tasks. If the non-interface position is correct, errors will occur in free but not controlled tasks. More nuanced findings would indicate a weak interface (slide 21). She concludes in agreement with Han and Finneran (2013) that all three positions are likely to be valid and that language teaching and teaching research should pursue the three hypotheses.

Some reactions

I have a number of reservations about both the explicit/implicit learning controversy in SLA and the application of learning theories in DDL as presented here.  I feel that somewhat hasty conclusions with far-reaching conclusions about language teaching with corpora are being drawn without full consideration of acquisitional or pedagogical issues. And I agree with O’Keeffe that it is important for the field and its place in both L2 research and in language education that the community should take a clear position on issues that should inform the design of DDL activities and programmes, and the research that is conducted on their effectiveness.

Among the shortcuts I see in the research cited by O’Keeffe are

  1. a broad church approach to explicit versus implicit learning

With respect to the interface question, Han and Finneran 2013 draw this conclusion which O’Keeffe reiterates:

in view of the conflicting arguments across the interface and non-interface positions, it appears likely that each position has some validity to it. (2013: 7)

To me this is akin to saying that since some climate scientists deny a human role in global warming we should continue to keep an open mind. Just because a debate exists doesn’t mean all sides are equally valid, and it is a simple affair to keep a putative controversy alive artificially. Perhaps more seriously, it seems to me that the weak interface is already a compromise between strong and weak positions, and it allows researchers to investigate where and how explicit and implicit learning influence interlanguage development. In other words, if you accept the weak interface argument that L2 development can include both implicit and explicit learning, you do not also need (cannot logically also) accept both or either the strong position (all explicit learning can become implicit, or all implicit learning derives from an explicit foundation) or the non-interface position (explicit learning can never become implicit). Long (2017) has an interesting discussion of implicit/explicit and incidental/intentional learning which I think is relevant here (see this post).
Having said that, the actual importance of the explicit/implicit learning interface for DDL practitioners is perhaps less than critical. Learner use of language corpora implies explicit learning. It suggests a focus on formS to gain declarative knowledge of collocations and colligations, for example, as opposed to the type of focus on form_ advocated by communicative and task-based language teaching approaches, where all learning of forms is embedded in meaning-focused activities. To do this you need to accept a strong or weak interface position at least implicitly (unless you are prepared to settle for explicit L2 learning which never leads to acquisition, which seems unusual to say the least). I can see no teacher or learner use of language corpora where implicit learning might be triggered. This leads me to my second reservation.

2. pedagogical implications of SL learning theories

The research on instructed L2 learning cited by L. Flowerdew (2015) represents a wide range of approaches which seem more or less compatible with DDL. Usage-based research (N Ellis, see also Susan Hunston’s TaLC 2018 plenary) obviously has a natural affinity with DDL since they share an interest in corpora and corpus tools and a cognitivist agenda, using authentic data to shed light on input available to language users as well as characterise their output. Constructivism, too, makes sense in the form of Cobb’s argument that learning from one’s own “grappling” with authentic language is likely to be more effective in terms of retention and transfer to new contexts than grappling by proxy, that is, explicit teaching of the results of a teacher’s or material writer’s engagement with authentic language.

I am less convinced of the application of Vygotskyan sociocultural theory to DDL, unless in a diluted form where corpus work alternates with other forms of language use and learning, in which case DDL becomes one element of a wider approach to language teaching and learning, rather than a learning programme in its own right. Learners can share searches and work in groups, and receive scaffolding and feedback from peers and teachers, but actual interaction with a corpus remains an individual endeavour. Thus it is more compatible with a cognitivist approach which seeks to account for learning occurring in one learner’s mind, rather than the socially informed learning of interest to socio-constructivists.

Similarly I think it is somewhat questionable to see concordance lines as so many opportunities for noticing. I understand Schmidt’s original formulation of noticing as something akin to Tomlin and Villa’s (1994) notion of detection, that is, something attended to during language use rather than language study, and thus closer to implicit rather than explicit learning. Again Long (2017) has a discussion of these distinctions as well as of empirical work on teaching/learning applications. These pedagogical studies (Cintron-Valentin & Ellis 2015, Malone 2016) are based on computer-delivered materials which are of less interest to me as a language educator working with classroom technologies (as opposed to the computer suites required for these materials), but may be interest to DDL colleagues working in computer-rich environments.

I also have reservations about equating the freedom of the search box with learner choice, agency, and autonomy as both Flowerdew and O’Keeffe have done. While it is undoubtedly preferable to offer learners as much choice as possible in building and using corpora and to cater for different levels of proficiency, motivation, and so on, I think we have to be careful about viewing language corpora as a silver bullet (as with other CALL tools and pedagogies). Regarding DDL, a number of papers at TaLC 2018 showed that even advanced learners were often ill-equipped to find the information they wanted via corpus tools (Charles), and sometimes wrong in the conclusions they drew (Tyne).

In conclusion, it should be clear if only from the length of this post that I find the SLA/DDL intersection an interesting area for research and teaching. I think it important that L2 researchers and corpus linguists engage with each others’ work. Perhaps this cross-fertilisation is more developed in SLA research than in L2 pedagogy. If so, TaLC is no doubt an important forum for focusing on DDL pedagogy informed by research in L2 education.


[blue = O’Keeffe’s references, black = my additions]

  • Boulton, A. and Tom Cobb (2017) “ Corpus Use in Language Learning: A Meta-Analysis”. Language Learning, 67(2): 348-393.
  • Chapelle, C. A. (2003) English language Learning and Technology. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. Ellis, N. (2002). Frequency Effects in Language Processing: A Review with Implications for Theories of Implicit and Explicit Language Acquisition. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 24 (2), 143-188. doi:10.1017/S0272263102002024
  • Cintron-Valentin, M. and Ellis, N. (2015) Exploring the interface: explicit focus-on- form instruction and learned attentional biases in L2 Latin. Language Learning 37(2): 197–235.
  • Cobb, T. (2005). Constructivism, applied linguistics, and language education. Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics, 2nd. ed.
  • DeKeyser, R. (2007). Skill acquisition theory. Theories in second language acquisition: An introduction, 97113.
  • Ellis, N. (2005) At the interface: dynamic interactions of explicit and implicit language knowledge. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 27.2: 305–52.
  • Ellis, N. C. (2002). Frequency effects in language processing: A review with implications for theories of implicit and explicit language acquisition. Studies in second language acquisition, 24(2), 143-188.
  • Ellis, R. (2008) Investigating grammatical difficulty in second language learning: Implications for second language acquisition research and language testing. International Journal of Applied Linguistics 18.1: 4–22
  • Ellis, R. (2002) Does form-focused instruction affect the acquisition of implicit knowledge? A review of the research. Studies in Second Language Acquisition 24.2: 223–36.
  • Flowerdew, L. (2015). Data-driven learning and language learning theories: Whither the twain shall meet. In A. Leńko-Szymańska & A. Boulton (Eds.), Multiple affordances of language corpora for data-driven learning. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, pp. 15–36.
  • Graus , J. & Coppen , P.-A. 2016. Student teacher beliefs on grammar instruction. Language Teaching Research , 20(5): 571-599.
  • Han, Z.-H., & Finneran, R. (2014). Re-engaging the interface debate: Strong, weak, none, or all? International Journal of Applied Linguistics, 24(3), 370-389.PDF
  • Izumi, S. (2002). Output, input enhancement, and the noticing hypothesis: An experimental study on ESL relativization. Studies in second language acquisition, 24(4), 541-577.
  • Johns, T. (1994) “From printout to handout: Grammar and vocabulary teaching in the context of data-driven learning”. In T. Odlin (Ed.), Perspectives on Pedagogical Grammar. New York: Cambridge University Press, pp. 293-313.
  • Krashen, S. 1977. Some Issues Relating to the Monitor Model. In H. Brown, C. Yorio , and R. Crymes ( eds ). On TESOL ’77, Washington DC: Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, pp.144-158.
  • Laufer, B. and Hulstjin , J. (2001) “Incidental vocabulary acquisition in a second language: The construct of task-induced involvement’. Applied Linguistics, 22: 1-26.
  • Lee, H., Warschauer , M. and Lee, J.-H. (2018) “The Effects of Corpus Use on Second Language Vocabulary Learning: A Multilevel Meta-analysis”. Applied Linguistics, (advance online: hIps://]cle-abstract/doi/10.1093/applin/amy012/4953772 )
  • Long, M. (2017). Instructed second language acquisition (ISLA): geopolitics, methodological issues, and some major research questions. ISLA, 1(1): 7-44. PDF
  • Malone, J. (2016) Incidental vocabulary learning in SLA: effects of frequency and aural enhancement (Qualifying Paper. PhD in SLA Program). College Park: University of Maryland.
  • Papp, S. Inductive learning and self-correction with the use of learner and reference corpora. In Hilgado , E., Quereda , L. and J. Santana ( eds ). Corpora in the Foreign Language Classroom. Amsterdam: Rodopi , pp. 207 – 220.
  • Schmidt, R. (2001). Attention. In P. Robinson (Ed.), Cognition and second language instruction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 3-32.
  • Schmidt, R. W. (1990). The role of consciousness in second language learning. Applied linguistics, 11(2), 129-158.
  • Tomlin, R. S., & Villa, V. (1994). Attention in cognitive science and second language acquisition. Studies in second language acquisition, 16(2), 183-203.
  • Whyte, S. (2017). Focus on form(s): principles and practice. On teaching languages with technology.
  • Whyte, S. (2011). Socio-constructivism. Learning and Teaching Foreign Languages, UOH.

Language education in the tertiary sector: two reviews

I reviewed two recent edited volumes related to language teaching and learning in higher education, one focusing on telecollaboration or virtual exchange (O’Dowd & Lewis 2016), the other on languages for specific purposes (LSP), especially English and French (Sowa & Krajka 2017).

9781138932876Online intercultural exchange: policy, pedagogy and practice
Robert O’Dowd and Tim Lewis (eds.)
New York: Routledge, 2016
ISBN : 978-1-138-93287-6 (hardcover)
ISBN : 978-1-315-67893-1 (ebook)
308 pages




innovations-in-languages-for-specific-purposes-innovations-en-langues-sur-objectifs-specifiques_9783631719237_295Innovations in Languages for Specific PurposesInnovations en langues sur objectifs spécifiques. Present challenges and future promisesDéfis actuels et engagements à venir
Magdalena Sowa and Jaroslaw Krajka (eds.)
Bern: Peter Lang, 2017
ISBN 978-3631-71921-3
343 pages



The first collection focuses on different types of intercultural exchange made possible by technology:

“Online intercultural exchange: policy, pedagogy and practice, edited by Robert O’Dowd and Tim Lewis, deals with telecollaboration or virtual exchange at university level, including online exchange projects in foreign language education, research findings, pedagogical and technological guidelines, and practitioner case studies. Part of the Routledge series on language and intercultural communication under the direction of Zhu Hua and Claire Kramsch, the book includes three introductory and concluding chapters by the co-editors, and 14 chapters from 16 contributors both in Europe (UK, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, and Spain) and beyond (US, Canada, Australia, and Brazil)“. Alsic review

In my review I noted three interesting oppositions raised in several chapters

  • individual versus institutional initiatives: who is responsible for creating and maintaining online intercultural exchange?
  • actual versus virtual exchange: is study abroad necessarily preferable to telecollaboration?
  • successful versus conflictual exchanges: how can critical incidents shed light on important factors for effective teaching and learning?

The second volume gives an overview of teaching and learning French or English for specific purposes:

“The articles are organised into six sections: cross-linguistic dimensions, course design, tasks and skills, teaching resources, digital tools, and assessment. Each includes two to four chapters in French, English or both, for a total of seventeen articles (eight in French, nine in English) by twenty authors including practitioners, researchers, and teacher educators […] The authors in this collection are concerned with a variety of specific purpose domains, including business, law and social sciences, medicine and technical sciences, and academic or teacher preparation papers.” ASp review

In this review, too, I selected three common themes of interest to a wider readership

  • the essential role of the teacher in LSP, and the challenges of balancing language and content requirements;
  • a new focus on learner autonomy, particularly with respect to corpus linguistics approaches involving data-driven learning;
  • evaluation and assessment, which are important in course design and for institutional reasons, but also in LSP classroom practice.

Both books are recommended reading for those involved in language education at tertiary level for the wide range of practitioner voices which they include, and for their treatment of a broad spectrum of approaches, objectives and tools, raising interesting questions for colleagues working in different contexts and for stakeholders in this important area.



ITILT mini-guides for language teaching with technology


These three guides are for language teachers working in technology-mediated task-based approaches to second/foreign language teaching and learning. Download them from the project website or directly here:

They were prepared during the Erasmus+ project ITILT, on Interactive Teaching in Languages with Technology, involving teachers and learners of 4 different EU languages in 5 countries: English in Belgium, France, Germany, French in Belgium, Turkish in Turkey, and Welsh in the UK.

We worked with novice and experienced classroom teachers at primary, secondary, and university level to collect practice examples of task-based teaching with different technologies: tablets (iPads), mobile phones, and video communication. The website gives an video overview of each task, plus a series of short clips to highlight different activities in the task sequence. Teacher and learner commentary then give participant perspectives on the tasks.

The project also aimed to develop an online community of practice bringing together ITILT teachers in different countries to share tips and experiences. This proved challenging to implement, since teachers in different countries were filmed at different points over the 3-year lifetime of the project, and demands on their time to prepare tasks, film activities, and discuss outcomes were quite heavy.

Nevertheless the project did bring to light a great many interesting ideas, resources, tools, and practices from our participating teachers in their different contexts, and we have selected a range of these to present in the three ITILT mini-guides. In keeping with our collaborative action-research approach to the project, these guides each offer

  1. an introduction to the theme – resources, tools, or networks,
  2. a key illustration which is situated in language education theory,
  3. discussion of a range of examples of classroom tasks from the project, and
  4. links and references for further reading.

We trust the guides will be useful to teachers interested in technology-mediated task-based language teaching, and both novice and experienced practitioners. For those new to technology in the language classroom, our 12 plus one tools may be worth a look.

Outils numériques pour l’enseignement des langues

Une formation sur le numérique pour les langues de spécialité au Pôle langues à Paris 2 avec l’accent sur quelques outils gratuits simples et des exemples de mise en oeuvre dans des activités pédagogiques qui visent une communication spontanée et le travail collaboratif, et permettent un feedback individualisé par l’enseignant.


Outils numériques pour travailler en langues dans le supérieur

Des tutoriels courts avec un bref descriptif, lien internet, idées pédagogiques, puis petit guide de prise en main ; également des outils comparables et un mot sur les inconvénients éventuels.

Exemples de pratique

1. Un projet de storytelling

Donner des retours individuels et collectifs sur une production orale en utilisant

2. Re-écriture d’un conte

Partage de ressources libres et rédaction collaborative sur Google Docs

Pour aller plus loin

Mieux comprendre l’enseignement-apprentissage par tâches

Monter un projet télécollaboratif

Les ressources et les pratiques éducatives libres (REL, PEL)

  • Déclaration de Paris sur les ressources éducatives libres 2012 PDF
  • Kurek, M. & Skowron, A. (2015). Going open with LangOER. PDF


Negotiating multimodal tasks with young EFL learners

Shona Whyte
Euline Cutrim Schmid

AILA World Congress, 27 July 2017, Rio de Janeira, Brazil


Workshop 14

  • B: Language teaching and learning
  • 9: Educational technology and language learning

Time: Thursday, 27/07/2017: 6:00pm – 7:00pm · Location: Queluz V

  • live video communication (VC) in English as a lingua franca in French and German primary schools
  • spoken interaction using interactive whiteboard (IWB), with large-scale class projection of an audio/video feed and screen-sharing of an IWB file containing movable objects
  • communication in small groups: one learner in each class interacted with a partner in the remote class, each supported by other learners in their own classroom
  • challenges of VC with young beginners: technical issues; materials and activity design; classroom implementation
  • frameworks for analysing classroom interaction and modelling technology integration which have implications for the language classroom and teacher education
  • analysing how learners exploit the communicative affordances of the multimodal VC environment multimodal discourse analysis: speech, gaze and gesture


Cognitive-interactionist approaches to instructed second language acquisition stress the role of meaningful exchanges in interlanguage development (Ortega, 2007); and in today’s highly connected world, such exchanges can occur via telecollaboration between classrooms in different countries. This study investigates the affordances of one such communicative opportunity: live video communication (VC) in English as a lingua franca in French and German primary schools. Spoken interaction between classes is supported through the technical affordances of the interactive whiteboard (IWB), with large-scale class projection of an audio/video feed and screen-sharing of an IWB file containing movable objects. The primary EFL classes communicated in small groups: one learner in each class interacted with a partner in the remote class, each supported by other learners in their own classroom. Previous research has highlighted the challenges of VC with young beginners in terms of (a) technical issues, (b) materials and activity design, and (c) classroom implementation; it has produced frameworks for analysing classroom interaction and modelling technology integration which have implications for the language classroom and teacher education (Cutrim Schmid & Whyte, 2014; Whyte, 2015). However, a close analysis of actual learner interaction is so far missing from this research programme, hence understanding of how learners orchestrate and exploit the communicative affordances of the multimodal VC environment remains limited. The present study seeks to address this shortcoming by investigating a series of short live exchanges between young learners in two VC tasks using multimodal discourse analysis (Collentine, 2009; Dooly & O’Dowd, 2012; Holt, Tellier & Guichon, 2015). Video recordings from each side of the exchange are combined and transcribed using multimodal annotation software. Analysis permits comparisons across learners, across tasks and over time of learners’ use of speech, gaze and gesture to harness different features of this environment in the negotiation of learning tasks.




iTILT-related publications

Cutrim Schmid, E. (2017). Teacher Education in Computer-Assisted Language Learning: A Sociocultural and Linguistic Perspective. London: Bloomsbury.

Cutrim Schmid, E. (2015). Bridging the gap between school and university in CALL teacher education. In Reis, C., & Santos, W. (Eds.). Formação de Professores de Línguas em Múltiplos Contextos: Construindo Pontes de Saberes e Agenciamentos. Coleção Educação e Linguagem. Campinas: Editora Pontes, 76-101.

Cutrim Schmid, E., & Whyte, S. (2015). Teaching young learners with technology. In Bland, J. (Ed.). Teaching English to Young Learners. Critical Issues in Language Teaching with 3-12 year olds. London: Bloomsbury.

Cutrim Schmid, E., & Whyte, S. (Eds.) (2014a). Teaching languages with technology: communicative approaches to interactive whiteboard use. A resource book for teacher development. London: Bloomsbury. [link]

Cutrim Schmid, E. & Whyte, S. (2014b). Ongoing professional development in IWB mediated language teaching: evening up the odds. In Cutrim Schmid, E., & Whyte, S. (Eds.) Teaching languages with technology: communicative approaches to interactive whiteboard use. A resource book for teacher development. London: Bloomsbury. [link

Cutrim Schmid, E. & Whyte, S. (2012). Interactive Whiteboards in State School Settings: Teacher Responses to Socio-constructivist Hegemonies. Language Learning and Technology, 16(2): 65-86.

Hillier, E., Beauchamp, G., & Whyte, S. (2013). A study of self-efficacy in the use of interactive whiteboards across educational settings: a European perspective from the iTILT project. Educational Futures, 5 (2), 3-22 [PDF]

Whyte, S. (2015). Implementing and Researching Technological Innovation in Language Teaching: The Case of Interactive Whiteboards for EFL in French Schools. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. [link]

Whyte, S. (2015). Capítulo 5 – Aprendendo a ensinar com a vídeo conferência em salas de aula de língua estrangeira do ensino primário (Learning to teach with videoconferencing in primary foreign language classrooms). In Reis, C., & Santos, W. (Eds.). Formação de Professores de línguas em múltiplos contextos: construindo pontes de saberes e agenciamentos. Coleção Educação e Linguagem. Campinas: Editora Pontes.

Whyte, S. (2014). Theory and practice in second language teaching with interactive technologies. In Cutrim Schmid, E., & Whyte, S. (Eds.) Teaching languages with technology: communicative approaches to interactive whiteboard use. A resource book for teacher development. Bloomsbury. [link]

Whyte, S., & Cutrim Schmid, E. (to appear). Classroom technology for young learners. In Garton, S., & Copland, F. (Eds.) Routledge Handbook of Teaching English to Young Learners. Routledge.

Whyte, S., & Cutrim Schmid, E. (2014).  A task-based approach to video communication with the IWB: a French-German primary EFL class exchange.  In Cutrim Schmid, E., & Whyte, S. (Eds.). Teaching languages with technology: communicative approaches to interactive whiteboard use. A resource book for teacher development. London: Bloomsbury. [link]

Whyte, S., & Alexander, J. (2014). Implementing tasks with interactive technologies in classroom CALL: towards a developmental framework. Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology, 40 (1), 1-26. PDF

Whyte, S., Beauchamp, G., & Alexander, J. (2014). Researching interactive whiteboard use from primary school to university settings across Europe: an analytical framework for foreign language teaching. University of Wales Journal of Education, 17, 30-52. [link]

Whyte, S., Cutrim Schmid, E., & Beauchamp, G. (2014). Second language interaction with interactive technologies: the IWB in state school foreign language classrooms. AILA World Congress, Brisbane.

Whyte, S., Cutrim Schmid, E., van Hazebrouck, S., & Oberhofer, M. (2014). Open educational resources for CALL teacher education: the iTILT interactive whiteboard project.  Computer Assisted Language Learning, 27 (2), 122-148 doi: 10.1080/09588221.2013.818558

Whyte, S. (2013). Orchestrating learning in the language classroom: the IWB as digital dashboard. Babylonia, 2013(3), 55-61. [link]

Whyte, S. (2011). Learning to teach with videoconferencing in primary foreign language classrooms. ReCALL, 23(3), 271-293.


CALL and CMC references

Caws, C., & Hamel, M. J. (2017). Learner Computer Interactions: New insights on CALL theories and applications. Philadelphia, PA: Benjamins.

Chapelle, C. (1998). Multimedia CALL: Lessons to be learned from research on instructed SLA. Language Learning & Technology, 2(1), 21-39. PDF

Chun, D., Kern, R., & Smith, B. (2016). Technology in language use, language teaching, and language learning. The Modern Language Journal, 100(S1), 64-80. PDF 

Collentine, K. (2009). Learner use of holistic language units in multimodal, task-based synchronous computer-mediated communication. Language Learning and Technology, 13(2), 68-87. PDF

Corona, V. (2017). An ethnographic approach to the study of linguistic varieties used by young Latin Americans in Barcelona. Qualitative approaches to research on plurilingual education, 170-188. PDF

Doughty, C., & Long, M. (2003). Optimal psycholinguistic environments for distance foreign language learning. Language Learning & Technology, 7(3), 50-80.

Guichon, N. , & Cohen, C. (2016). Multimodality and CALL. In F. Farr & L. Murray (Eds.), The Routledge handbook of language learning and technology (pp. 509 – 521). Abingdon, UK : Routledge.

Guichon, N. , & Wigham, C. R. (2016). A semiotic perspective on webconferencing supported language teaching. ReCALL , 28 (1), 62 – 82.

Helm, F., & Dooly, M. (2017). Challenges in transcribing multimodal data: a case study. Language learning & technology, 21(1), 166-185.

Holt, B.,  Tellier, M., & Guichon, N. (2015). The use of teaching gestures in an online multimodal environment: the case of incomprehension sequences. Gesture and Speech in Interaction 4th Edition, Sep 2015, Nantes, France.

Moore, E., & Dooly, M. (Eds.). (2017). Qualitative approaches to research on plurilingual education/Enfocaments qualitatius per a la recerca en educació plurilingüe/Enfoques cualitativos para la investigación en educación plurilingüe. PDF

Smith, B. (2017). Methodological innovation in call research and its role in SLA. Language Learning and Technology, 21(1), 1-3.




The task of teaching

I was at the American University of Paris yesterday on a beautiful day in a beautiful part of the city.

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I was invited to talk about pedagogical innovation by integrating technology in the language class; AUP is a liberal arts college with an international study body and students learn French as the host language and academic English for their studies.

I ran a workshop in French taking an OER perspective on task-based language teaching with technologies, with activities focusing on both specific teaching ideas and particular digital tools.

More interesting for me were subsequent discussions with AUP and visiting faculty on more general issues concerning pedagogy and the changing roles of teachers and students in university teaching. Two themes emerged for me: motivation for learning, and general objectives for teaching.

Delayed gratification?

Who is responsible for student motivation and learning?

Some faculty feel quite strongly that it is up to students to find a way into the course content that is presented to them. The consensus among those discussing this yesterday was that instructors have some responsibility in this both in the way they present material and the assignments they set their students.

I was reminded of A.N. Whitehead’s three-stage model of learning, where he recommends teachers try to keep three balls in the air at all times: a “romantic” or big-picture reminder of what a class is trying to achieve and why it matters, “precision” or practice activities that help students develop essential skills and understanding, and a “generalisation” phrase where their attention is drawn to how these new skills are already bringing them closer to their big-picture goals.

I have applied this model to language teaching in a talk on “digital pencil sharpening” (see slides 20 through 36 for the section on general teaching and learning). I believe Whitehead was on to something when he complained that too much teaching spends too long on low-level information, skills and practice, and does so in isolation from what we might term pre- and post-practice reflection, which would help learners make sense of the drudgery.

Other university educators have taken a similar stance. The mathematician Paul Halmos provided the pencil-sharpening metaphor to refer to our tendency to procrastinate in order to avoid intellectually challenging work. I think this also applies to classroom contexts when we fill our syllabus with basic texts and boilerplate assignments to provide “background” which we see as an essential preliminary to the “real” content. But the “good stuff” keeps receding over the horizon.

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Robert Duke makes this point in his excellent 2008 talk Why Students Don’t Learn What We Think We Teach. He is especially good on conflicting student/instructor agendas and agrees with Whitehead on the importance of the “here and now,” as this little extract shows:

I wrote about this in a paper on technology and learner autonomy in language education. The more I discuss pedagogy with teachers of subjects other than languages, the more I feel task-based language teaching has a lot to offer the wider educational community.

A second area of my discussions with AUP colleagues is perhaps more related to education in its broader sense than to the specifics of what happens at the chalkface.

What role do we in humanities or liberal arts play in teaching students to think?

Thinking about things that matter

Perhaps inevitably in the current political context, our discussions turned to some of the bigger issues of our times: climate change, immigration policy, electoral discourse. How should we address these with our students?

In the run-up to the US presidential campaign I came across the work of cognitive linguist George Lakoff on political discourse.  Lakoff uses frame theory and metaphor to explain how political thought is shaped (and thus manipulated).

He applies this theory to the Trump campaign on his website, and you can read more here for example. I decided to take this theme as our topic for an undergraduate translation course in our media and communication strand: the science of framing political debate. While we need to be careful about political bias in our teaching, I feel we also have some responsibility to take on issues like these when relevant to our classes.

Here’s my take on Lakoff’s contrast between strict father and nurturing family frames in a presentation I prepared for my students:

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Translation classes, perhaps more than other foreign language classes, allow discussion of issues in a somewhat impartial and unemotional manner. It’s a good opportunity to tackle the meaning and implications of texts in a neutral way: does this expression in language A mean that same as that one in language B? Why did the writer use this particular expression, and how can we render it faithfully yet idiomatically? We’re not discussing what we think about a particular argument or line of thinking. We’re focusing on what the intended meaning seems to be, and how different translations render different aspects of that meaning salient.

The framing comes, of course, from our selection of texts to translate.

What do I take from all this?

Perhaps that it’s stimulating to talk about teaching and learning with colleagues in other disciplines in different university contexts.

Perhaps that language education might have some approaches and ideas for addressing pedagogical issues that are relevant to other university disciplines.

Or simply that the “here and now” can shift depending on both the focus of your attention and your vantage point.


Duke, R. (2008). «Why Students Don’t Learn What We Think We Teach» [lecture; online]. (2013-06-01).

Halmos, P. (1985). I Want to Be a Mathematician. New York: Springer Verlag.

Halmos, P. (1975). «The Problem of Learning to Teach». American Mathematical Monthly, 82, pp. 466-476.

Whitehead, A.N. ([1917] 1932). «The Aims of Education». In: Whitehead, A.N. The Aims of Education and Other Essays. London: Ernest Benn.

Whyte, S. (2014). Digital pencil sharpening: technology integration and language learning autonomy. EL.LE, 3(1): 31-53. Università Ca’ Foscari, Venezia. [PDF]