The perceptions of ELT students about the use of Web 20 tools, particularly wikis, in their future language classrooms

Aydınlı, Julie Mathews
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Bilkent University
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Computer and internet technologies have radically changed the way people communicate and process information in the past three decades. Such drastic advances have found their reflections in the field of Computer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL) as part of language teaching. Today, Web 2.0 offers numerous merits to language teachers and learners. While language classrooms are transformed into student-centered learning environments, learners have found the opportunity to break out of the physical boundaries of the classroom walls. Therefore, teachers have been forced to make use of online tools in order to reinforce their teaching practice. Although such transition is unlikely to cease to exist, the amount of studies examining the effects of Web 2.0 tools is rather limited. Wikis are helpful tools for language teachers for they are easy to learn and simple to use. Despite the benefits they offer to language teachers, the present literature about the use of wikis in the language classroom is even less infrequent, and a great majority of the studies examining the use of wikis in language classrooms focuses on their use for the teaching and enhancement of the writing skill. Likewise, there is only one study concentration on the reading skill. However, there has not been a study that reveals whether wikis can be used for the teaching of grammar and vocabulary. This study investigated the perceptions of the ELT students about the use of Web 2.0 tools, particularly wikis, in their future classrooms. The research was conducted at a state university in Turkey with 12 ELT students who were trained to learn to use wikis in a four-hour workshop. Pre- and post-perception questionnaires were administered in order to collect qualitative data which were statistically analyzed after the training. Follow-up interviews were conducted with four students, and these data were qualitatively analyzed. The statistical analysis of data revealed that although these ELT students were digitally literate, and they made use of several Web 2.0 tools in their daily lives, but they believed that their formal education was not enough for their future careers. There was statistically significant difference in their perceptions when their formal education was concerned. Similarly, their perceptions changed significantly for the teaching of reading, writing, and grammar. On the whole, they initially had positively strong feelings towards the use of Web 2.0 tools in their future classrooms. This positive attitude slightly increased after the wiki training. When the qualitative data derived from the follow-up interviews were evaluated, it was found that although the participants of the wiki training (WPs) had perceived wikis as complex Web 2.0 tools at first, their perceptions changed after being introduced to wikis. This change in their perception about wikis helped them to reconsider their opinions and their prejudices were transformed into confidence that they could learn about the contemporary Web 2.0 tools in order to enhance their teaching abilities. While the relevant literature looked for an answer to the question whether wikis were effective tools for writing, this research study focused on finding new ways to improve language learning performance of the students through the employment of wikis. The findings of the study revealed that wikis could be employed in the field of ELT via integrating several other Web 2.0 tools into wikis for different purposes including the teaching of writing, reading, vocabulary and grammar.

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