Skip to ContentSkip to Navigation
founded in 1614  -  top 100 university


ICT and Language Learning: Symposium details

Programme, abstracts, biodata  

Date: 16 December 2009

Venue: University of Groningen, Zernikezaal, Academiegebouw, Broerstraat 5

Symposium organisers:  Sake Jager ( ) and Kees de Bot ( )



Welcome/tea/coffee in staff restaurant


Kees de Bot, University of Groningen



Bernd Rüschoff, University Duisburg/Essen

Web 2.0 and process-oriented language learning


Alessandra Corda, University of Leiden

Oral skills training and ICT


Steve Thorne, The Pennsylvania State University

Gaming, social media, and theories of language, learning, and mediated social practice




Christine Appel, Open University Catalunya

Teaching languages in distance education


John Nerbonne and Zhao Yan, University of Groningen

Detecting Deviant Syntax

(first slides of recording are missing)


Tea/coffee (in staff restaurant)


Rick de Graaff and Kristi Jauregi, Utrecht University

Enhancing intercultural communicative competence for language students and teacher trainees by video web communication and virtual worlds


Sake Jager, University of Groningen

ICT-Integrated Language Learning


Christine Appel: Teaching languages in distance education

In this presentation I will describe how languages are taught in the Open University of Catalunya (UOC), a university where teaching takes place entirely online, that is, students and teacher never meet face-to-face. This means that rather than using how ICT to enhance language teaching, ICT is the sole means of communication and delivery in the course. I will describe the design of a course of English as a foreign language for intermediate students (entry level B1 in the Common European Framework of Reference) taught as a compulsory subject to all students studying a degree in the UOC. This course was designed as part of the reform of the degrees in the UOC under the Bologna adaptation process, and uses a Task-based language teaching approach and the ECFR as its departing point. I will describe the main challenges we faced in implementing the programme such as building an online community through the use of a second language, training students and teachers in the use of ICT, teaching oral skills, assessment and in particular on the difficulties to engage students in collaborative work, and identifying the appropriate tools for this purpose. In doing this I will present a summary of the results of two studies undertaken on the use of Skype for oral interactive activities and Google Docs for collaborative writing activities.

Alessandra Corda: Oral skills training and ICT

Language teachers in European secondary education are becoming more and more familiar with the Common European Framework of Reference (CEF). In the Netherlands, the final exams have been linked to the CEF levels and minimum target competence levels have been defined according to the CEF for lower secondary education for all language skills, including monological and dialogical competence. As a result, oral skills, usually poorly trained in secondary education, get more attention today than in the past. But building up a coherent curriculum which allows for a clear progression through the CEF levels for oral competence is a major challenge for language teachers. I will first discuss these issues, focusing on some related pedagogical problems and briefly illustrating how ICT can be used for teachers' professional development. Then I will show how ICT can support and facilitate oral skills training at different stages in the curriculum, presenting current experiences in Dutch secondary schools.

Rick de Graaff and Kristi Jauregi: Enhancing intercultural communicative competence for language students and teacher trainees by video web communication and virtual worlds

In the European NIFLAR project, Networked Interaction in Foreign Language Acquisition and Research, two innovative e-learning environments have been developed and used, in which language students and native speaker teacher trainees can synchronously communicate. In both the video web communication environment Adobe Connect and the virtual world Second Life students from various countries communicate, collaborate and share experiences, focusing on foreign language interaction and intercultural awareness. In this virtual learning community, language students have the opportunity to meaningfully communicate with native speakers; native speaker teacher trainees have the opportunity to guide foreign language learners in their intercultural communicative development. For this, pedagogical tasks have been developed in which intercultural awareness and authentic social interaction play a much larger role than in present-day classroom language teaching.

We will present a set of design principles for effective intercultural communicative tasks and discuss their application to networked communication and education. Examples of tasks will be shown, including:

  • Czech students of Dutch as a foreign language, communicating with Dutch teacher trainees by means of the video web collaboration tool Adobe Connect;

  • Dutch students of Spanish as a foreign language, communicating with Spanish teacher trainees in Second Life.

We will discuss what the potential and differential effects are of such environments on distant interaction and intercultural communicative competence, and how this can be exploited in higher education.

Sake Jager: ICT-Integrated Language Learning

During this presentation I will be reporting on my thesis which holds that the integration of ICT requires that aspects of technology, pedagogy and the institutional environment must be attuned in such a way that favourable conditions for language learning are created. Implementation - the actions and strategies used to get ICT integrated into educational practice - should consistently address each of these aspects. I will report on the major findings of my study and discuss the ramifications of setting up an implementation framework for ICT-Integrated Language Learning which is based on principles of Task-Based Language Learning and the Common European Framework of Reference.

John Nerbonne and Zhao Yan: Detecting Deviant Syntax

(This is joint work with Timo Lauttamus, Wybo Wiersma and Lisa Lena Opas Hänninen.)

We apply automatic part-of-speech (POS) tagging to corpora of Finnish emigrants to Australia with the aim of developing techniques for detecting foreign influences in English syntax.We begin with corpora of (transcribed) spontaneous conversational speech, replete with the usual problems of repetitions, infelicities, abbreviations and ellipsis.We emphasize that this sort of material is claimed to be more difficult to analyze than e.g. edited newspaper text.We illustrate the techniques by comparing the syntax of those who immigrated as adults to that of the young immigrants, whose speech appears to be native or near native.

We use a state-of-the-art tagger by Thorsten Brandts (Google) employing the linguistically informed tag TOSCA-ICE set developed by Garside, Leech and McEnery (1997), which includes 240 POS-tags.In recent work we have attempted to improve the tagging accuracy.We collect tags into trigrams, ordered triples, in order to include some sensitivity to context, and then analyze the relative frequencies of the more than 10,000 POS-tag trigrams we find in the data.We note that this allows us to analyze not only the errors of second-language learners, but also the points at which they underuse and overuse syntactic constructions.

To tackle the analysis of a 2×10,000 table we develop a permutation test as a means of determining whether differences are statistically significant.A novelty in the current presentation is our inclusion of a technique for controlling for the influence of individual speakers.

We are ultimately interested in the potential effects of first languages and language (‘vernacular’) universals in second language acquisition. The results indicate that some influences in the interlanguage of the adults can be best attributed to transfer from the Finnish substratum. However, there are other features in our data that may also be ascribed to more “universal” contact dynamics.


Timo Lauttamus, John Nerbonne and Wybo Wiersma.Detecting Syntactic Contamination in Emigrants: The English of Finnish Australians. In: SKY Journal of Linguistics 21, 2007, 273-307. SKY (Suomen kielitieteellisen yhdistyksen aikakauskirja) is the Journal of the Linguistic Association of Finland.

Bernd Rüschoff: Web 2.0 and process-oriented language learning

Current thinking in SLA methodology favours knowledge construction rather than simple instructivist learning as an appropriate paradigm for language learning. Within this context, project-based and task-oriented scenarios have often been regarded as the real forte of digital media and technology-enhanced tools. Such approaches to learning are also rooted in the output hypothesis, which argues that learners should actively engage themselves in the creation of ‘comprehensible output’ in order to develop linguistically and cognitively.

Following the apparent upgrade of the Internet to Web 2.0, expectations are running high as to the innovative potential of this (supposedly) new platform for Technology Enhanced Language Learning. This paper will discuss the principles of output orientation in language learning with particular focus on writing activities. It will also consider how some of the tools available in the “new” Internet can be used to support the learners’ active engagement in developing the productive and reflective processes integral to an autonomous approach when creating text-based output in language learning. Furthermore, a few ideas for learning projects and samples of best practice will be presented in order to show how the use of digital writing tools can contribute to the quality and quantity of product as well as help to improve learners’ overall productive competencies and promote autonomy.


Rüschoff, B. (2006). Authentic materials and authentic learning: Literary texts and creative tasks in language learning. In Kötter, M, Traxel, O., & Gabel, S. (Eds.), Investigating and Facilitating Language Learning (pp. 205-220). Trier: Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Trier.

Rüschoff, B. (2009). Output-Oriented Language Learning with Digital Media. In Thomas, M. (Ed.), Handbook of research on Web 2.0 and second language learning (42-59). Hershey, PA. IGI Global.

Swain, M. (2000).The output hypothesis and beyond: Mediating acquisition through collaborative dialogue. In Lantolf, J. P. (Ed.), Sociocultural theory and second language learning (pp. 97-114). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Swain, M. (2006). Languaging, agency and collaboration in advanced second language learning. In Byrnes, H. (Ed.), Advanced language learning: The contributions of Halliday and Vygotsky (pp. 95-108). London, UK: Continuum.


Bernd Rüschoff holds the chair in didactics and applied linguistics in the Institute for Anglophone Studies at the University of Duisburg-Essen. His research focuses on aspects of e-learning and virtual learning platforms for applied linguistics as well as the use of digital tools for language learning. He has been involved in a number of European Union projects on technology and language learning and contributed to various Council of Europe activities, e.g. as a director of studies in Modern Languages ‘New Style’ workshops. A former president of EUROCALL, Bernd Rüschoff is currently the president of GAL – the German Association of Applied Linguistics and Vice-President of AILA, the International Association of Applied Linguistics.

Steven L. Thorne: Gaming, social media, and theories of language, learning, and mediated social practice

This presentation describes a research program examining social media and online gaming as settings for second and foreign language (L2) use and development. In recent years, there has been a great deal of research and pedagogical experimentation relating to the uses of technology in L2 education. The majority of this research has focused on in-class and directly classroom-related uses of technology. This presentation broadens the scope of inquiry to include second and foreign language-related uses of technology that extend into the interstitial spaces between instructed L2 contexts and entirely out-of-school non-institutional realms of freely chosen digital engagement. Two such instances are presented; the first includes qualitative and corpus linguistic analyses of Web 2.0 tools at use in a secondary school foreign language course; the second describes a continuum of 3–D graphically rendered virtual environments and online games. In the final section of the presentation, I briefly outline related new research projects, challenge conventional conceptions of ‘mediation’ and ‘language’, and describe a ‘post-language’ pedagogy that synergistically unites the analytic rigor of formal education with the immediacy and vibrancy of language use in digital vernacular contexts.


Steve Thorne is Assistant Professor in the department of Applied Linguistics and Associate Director of the Center for Language Acquisition at the Pennsylvania State University. He also serves as the Advisor for Mediated Learning at the Center for Advanced Language Proficiency Education and Research (a national foreign language resource center). His research focuses on cultural-historical activity theory, computer-assisted language learning, new media literacies, second language acquisition, and themes relating to social theory and critical pedagogy. His research has appeared in numerous edited collections as well as the Handbook of New Literacies, Encyclopedia of Language and Education, and the Modern Language Journal, Language Learning & Technology, Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, CALICO Journal, Language Teaching, Brain & Cognition, and Intelligence, among other venues. His book length works include a co-edited volume on Internet-mediated Intercultural Foreign Language Education (Thomson/Heinle, 2006) and the co-authored book Sociocultural Theory and the Genesis of Second Language Development (Oxford University Press, 2006).

Last modified:December 01, 2014 13:57