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Vocabulary Learning in English Class: Tablets in the Classroom

Conference paper
Authors Leona Bunting
Published in ICMAL. International Conference of Modern Applied Languages. Identity across cultures. 2016 Proceedings Bucharest.
Publisher Lumina Publishing.
Place of publication Bucharest
Publication year 2016
Published at Department of Applied Information Technology (GU)
Language en
Keywords Tablets, English as a second language learning, classroom practices
Subject categories Languages and Literature, Educational Sciences


Tablets have become increasingly popular among young people in Sweden and this rapid increase also resonates in school, especially in classrooms for younger children. In the present study, the teacher had de- signed a task in which the students were to work with YouTube clips on tablets to further their context-based guessing strategies in English when encountering unknown vocabulary, intentionally mimicking a situation the students may encounter out of school. The aim of this study was to investigate how a teacher implements a teaching design with the objective to help the students develop methods for handling unknown vocabulary in English as a second language to be used both in and out of school. The students’ activities were scrutinized in view of the teacher’s instructions and the resources available for the task and also how the teacher scaffolded the students and what prompted scaffolding. A class of 28 twelve-year-old students and their English teacher in a Swedish comprehensive school participated in the study. A classroom task was followed over nine lessons. The lessons were video-recorded and interviews were made with the teacher and the students. Results show that the students develop vari- ous methods for solving a task which many of them find difficult. While some rely solely on their aural ability to identify and understand new vocabulary, others make use of context or written text in the clips. The teacher scaffolds the students mainly by breaking down the task into manageable components. There are examples of differentiation as the teacher offers more explicit scaffolding where needed. The teacher’s design of the task allows the students to develop intellectual tools for learning how to learn. It also allows for an adaptive process which demands great flexibility on the teacher’s part.

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