Graduation Year

2008

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Granting Department

Secondary Education

Major Professor

Linda Evans, Ph.D.

Keywords

Foreign language education, Computer-assisted language learning, Intercultural competence and technology, Standards for foreign language learning, Foreign language online tasks

Abstract

The Internet with its World Wide Web feature opened up a whole new frontier for language-culture learning that foreign language textbook authors have integrated into their programs. Designing tasks that progress beyond promoting learners' passive consumerism and reiteration of facts remains a goal and a challenge. Thus, three research questions characterized this study that sought to examine the on-line tasks associated with six current Spanish textbook programs. The design focused on an analysis of these tasks in light of prevailing culture learning concepts and other pedagogical paradigms posited by reputable foreign language educators to determine if they filled the gap left by textbooks in facilitating second culture acquisition. The first question asked for evidence that learners were encouraged to recognize their own cultural conditioning. Evidence was present only to a miniscule degree. The second question sought to determine the extent of opportunities provided to learn about the target culture - Hispanic - as they mirrored the objectives of the perspectives on culture learning. Low-level thinking skills and a predominance of tasks concerning products, in contrast to those concerning behavioral practices or perspectives, characterized the extent of target-culture learning. The third question sought to discover if learners were engaged in process-based tasks, whether they were prompted to identify authentic problems, suggest solutions, and apply new vii knowledge. Evidence for these situations was minimal. Additional findings revealed factual information questions to be a majority with a few tasks inviting learners to respond to hypothetical and creative situations.

Results indicate that in this early stage, the World Wide Web remains an authentic venue for culture learning; however, future directions ought to include expanding the scope of adjunct tasks as they complement the multiple presentations of culture in the companion textbook chapters.

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