Abstract

The current study explores closely how using a combined modalities of asynchronous computer-mediated communication (CMC) via blogs and face-to-face (FTF) interaction through ethnographic interviews with native speakers (L1s) supports autonomous learning as the result of reflective and social processes. The study involves 16 American undergraduate students who participated in blogs to develop their intercultural competence over the course of one-semester study abroad. The results show that blogs afforded students the opportunity to work independently (e.g., content creation) and reflect upon cross-cultural issues. Critical reflection, however, relied on the teacher’s guidance and feedback, as most of the students were cognitively challenged by not being able to clearly articulate different points of view. It is likely that students were not accustomed to reflecting. The findings also indicate that task type fostered autonomy in different ways. While free topics gave students more control of their own learning, teacher-assigned topics required them to critically think about the readings. Lack of access to Internet at the host institution and family also contributed to a limited level of social interaction. The study concludes that well-designed tasks, effective metacognitive and cognitive skills, and the accessibility to Internet are essential to maximize the potentials of blogs for learner autonomy and intercultural communication.

Publication Date

10-1-2011

Journal Title

Language Learning & Technology

Publisher

University of Hawai'i National Foreign Language Resource Center

Document Type

Article

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