The effects of using Internet resources to learn English for specific interests in high school
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English language educators in school settings in non-native contexts have the responsibility to motivate students to learn the target language and help them improve test scores. This task is rendered difficult by the fact that adolescent English language learners in non-native contexts tend to study English only for tests and seldom relate it to their life experiences. Using, as a theoretical framework, the learner-centered approach and free voluntary Internet surfing, this mixed methods study explored the extent to which English language learners’ motivation to learn English and their English proficiency increased as a result of utilizing self-selected Internet resources as opposed to using teacher-assigned supplementary materials. Thirteen students from a high school in Taiwan divided into two groups, namely, self-selected group and teacher-assigned group, completed pre- and post-intervention surveys, participated in a learning project on an online learning management system, and also took pre- and post-tests. The self-selected group used self-selected Internet materials related to their topics of interest to complete the learning project, while the teacher-assigned group used materials assigned by the teacher. A non-native English-speaking teacher in Taiwan and a native English-speaking teacher in the United States also helped facilitate the project. Analysis of covariance and paired sample t tests were used for the quantitative data analysis, and the constant comparative method was used for the qualitative data analysis. The results showed that although the students’ motivation to learn English and their English proficiency did not undergo a statistically significant improvement, there was evidence to support the conclusion that learning English with self-selected Internet resources has great potential to motivate adolescents in non-native contexts and help improve their English proficiency. The students also embraced the freedom to choose their own supplementary materials and expressed their desire to continue using this method to learn English.