Introduction: About the Blended Language Learning e-Book

Agnieszka Palalas and Chrysoula Lazou

This peer-reviewed e-book comes at an unprecedented moment in online and digital education history, when the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way distance education and remote learning are viewed and practiced. With millions of learners and educators shifting to the online space, discovering the opportunities and challenges of online vis-à-vis offline learning, there has been more interest and appreciation for blending these practices.  Blended Learning (BL) is a rapidly developing area of education having tremendous implications for foreign and second language teaching and learning around the globe, particularly in the post-pandemic era that will be characterized by major shifts toward BL and transition to online learning. With the increasing popularity of Blended Language Learning (BLL), there is a need to share with our international colleagues’ research and practice reports pertaining to various aspects of BLL and to disseminate the knowledge of what works, what does not, and why.

Innovative BLL approaches utilize a purposeful combination of technologies and learning contexts to provide meaningful learning through improved access to authentic resources, situated learning activities, and innovative linguistic models. BLL strategies can facilitate language practice both in and out of the classroom. One of the key objectives of this publication is to demonstrate a variety BLL solutions and how the design of these strategies and applications is contingent on the unique characteristics and requirements of individual educational contexts. Different cultural and educational environments call for different BLL approaches. With chapter authors representing an array of countries and cultures, this book aims to highlight a need for BLL that respects diverse educational and technological needs and circumstances. Hence, all authors were encouraged to incorporate a brief description of their unique cultural and educational context.

This book compiles theory essentials and practical examples of BLL from diverse parts of the world, including those in Canada, Greece, Poland, Malaysia, and Japan, across a variety of educational levels. In chapter 1, Prokopetz offers a closer look at the application of ePortfolios to enhance the BL experiences of language learners and of graduate students developing their projects in an online course. Chapter 2, authored by Lazou, Panagiotou, and Tsinakos, reports on DigiTEENS.gr, an BLL project in Greece aiming to enhance digital and information literacy skills in EFL teenage learners during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the following chapter 3, Gajek presents another example of a BLL response to the challenges resulting from the pandemic restrictions in Poland – the eTwinning solution. Chapter 4 (Ramalingam et al.) describes the current BLL trends in Malaysian higher learning institutions. Both chapters 5 and 6 are situated in Japan. Miyashita and Barrett report on an action research study targeting the development of higher-order thinking through asynchronous forums in a BLL program at a high school in Japan. Finally, Ishikawa and colleagues present their empirical research on the design, development, implementation, and evaluation of a team-based flipped learning framework combined with a newly developed application applied in a university-level EFL course with a goal to improve students’ presentation skills. All the chapters offer evidence-based recommendations concerning the effective implementation of BLL pedagogy and technology to support language learning. To maintain the authenticity of the authors’ voice, the original dialect of English (e.g., Canadian vs. British) in which each chapter was submitted, including the authors’ preferred spelling conventions, has been maintained in this collective work.

This volume contributes to the increasingly relevant research and evidence-based BLL practice. It also invites a cross-cultural conversation about BLL strategies that reflect a purposeful blend of the following elements of the learning ecosystem: pedagogy, technology, location and time (contexts), materials and artifacts, as well as learners’ vis-à-vis teachers’ roles. We invite you to critically analyze the studies drawn from the different contexts and adapt these practices to your own needs.

This e-book is intended for second and foreign language teachers, academics, researchers, instructional designers, and other professionals in education and the workplace. It will also benefit school administrators, technology staff, directors of Teaching and Learning Centres, and other stakeholders interested in integrating BLL to promote the development of second and foreign language skills amongst their learners.

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Blended Language Learning: Evidence-Based Trends and Applications by Agnieszka Palalas and Chrysoula Lazou is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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