With the integration of mobile devices into our daily lives, there have been considerations about how to make use of them in educational terms. In reply to this need, a new field has emerged. In their 2008 paper, Kukulska-Hulme and Shield define Mobile Assisted Language Learning (MALL) as “formal or informal learning mediated via handheld devices and potentially anytime, anywhere.” The writers assert that MALL makes learners take the responsibility of their own learning as they determine the content and the medium of instruction, rather than being the receiver of information in a teacher-led course. They stress that there is a shift in the concept of mobile learning; from portability of devices to mobility of learners (Sharples, 2006).

The writers list mobile phones, MP3/MP4 players, Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) and palmtop computers as mobile devices that are generally used in field research.  They divide the approaches to MALL into two main categories depending on their focus; content-related and design-related approaches. Content related studies tend to offer data about course material development whereas design related studies focus more on independent learning, which can very well be informal. The former approach uses mobile devices as the medium for the distribution of teaching materials in contrast to the latter. In design related approach, the core is interaction with other parties such as other learners or tutors.

Most MALL studies employ mobile phones as the medium. Such studies include the works of Pecherzewska and Knot, 2007;  Andrews, 2003; Levy & Kennedy, 2005; McNicol, 2005; Norbrook & Scott, 2003; Pincas, 2004; Norbrook & Scott; 2003, Levy & Kennedy, 2005; McNicol, 2005 and Stockwell (2007).  Because of some advantages they offer like learner familiarity to medium and favorability of them by students, mobile phones are used more than other forms of mobile devices. Little attention has been paid to the facilitation of oral production through mobile phone use, though.  Exceptional studies which try to employ oral interaction are Dias 2002a,2002b; Stanford University Tomorrow’s Professor Listserv, 2002 and Irish as a Second Language lessons reported by Cooney& Keogh, 2007.  These studies also had their limitations , namely, Dias’ study being  text based only whereas the later ones being too difficult to schedule because of the need to make the learners and the tutors interact during a specific time period.

There are also other studies that used handheld computers, tablet PCs, MP3 players and digital voice recorders. For example, Samuel’s 2003 study shows that handheld computers can be used to make learners produce and reflect on each other’s work. Lan et al. (2007:137) state that they set up a network enabling learners to reach a certain point in tests and then be able to help others as a tutor. The learners could listen to and assess each other’s work through Skype connections. These examples show that the chances to teach through mobile devices are infinite.

While designing MALL activities, teachers/ researchers should pay attention to the general principles of the field: mobility, portability, learner needs and practicality issues. “Anytime, anywhere” is the core of this approach as the most important benefit of using mobile devices is their portability and practicality, independent from constraints like the time and place of learning. In the contemporary world, individuals are so busy that they might need to learn a language while they do many other things such as working or commuting. Thornton and Houser (2005, p.218) state that most students suffer from a lack of instruction time in class and the researchers say they believe  MALL is a good opportunity to increase exposure.

In their 2012 paper titled Mobile-Assisted Language Learning, Miangah and Nezarat suggest the integration of video and voice chat feature into MALL so that teachers can provide material to the learners in addition to giving them feedback interactively. This provision has already become reality in recent years, which shows the rapid changes happening in the field.

No matter what medium they use or which skill they aim to teach, meaningful, cost effective, cooperative, learner-specific instruction is what MALL studies thrive for. There is a lot of room for improvement in the field as the language learning/teaching processes are undergoing constant change. MALL activities can help learners use multimedia and allow them to make information their own by reshaping it.


Facebook is the world’s largest social networking site and it could be used for teaching L2. However, the number of research studies is not enough to evaluate its efficacy. In this article, Dizon explores how effective Facebook use is when it comes to teaching writing. Dizon here examines any possible improvements that could be attained through the integration of Facebook into L2 writing teaching in writing fluency, lexical richness and grammatical accuracy.

Thirty students from the faculty of Foreign Language Studies of a Japanese university participated in the study. After a proficiency test (TOEIC or EIKEN), students were placed in their classes. The experimental group (n=16) was taught by the researcher whereas the control group (n=14) was instructed by two different teachers.  Participants completed 24 free writing tasks within a 12 week period. They were given a pre, a mid and a post test to evaluate their performances. The experimental group wrote on their class Facebook page while control group kept individual journals. Neither of the groups was allowed to use dictionaries or text books to aid them. The control group did not have any other tasks than their writing but the experimental group had to interact with a minimum of two students on Facebook on a daily basis. Focused free writings were not graded but given corrective feedback so that all participants received the same type of feedback. Only treatable errors were corrected.

There are three variables of the study;

  • the number of words each participant writes in the given time on the three assessments,
  • lexical richness, meaning the ratio of words written beyond the most common 1000 words,
  • the number of treatable errors made in every 100 words.

After implementing and analyzing the three assignments, the researchers concluded that

firstly, Facebook can better promote fluency of writing when compared to paper-and-pencil writing. Secondly, both groups failed to make a significant improvement in the field of lexical richness. On the contrary, there was a slight decrease in their lexical performance, which the researcher attributes to the fact that the students were not allowed to use dictionaries or other resources that might help them improve their vocabulary knowledge. Finally, the researcher did not find a meaningful difference between the grammatical accuracy of student performances in neither of the groups. So, the researcher states that the medium did not play an important role on grammatical accuracy.

There are also limitations of this study. To start with, the small number of participants makes it hard to generalize. The fact that the instructor of the experimental and control groups were different may also have played a role on the performances as teachers and their instructional practices may be different.

It is stated in the conclusion that although there are some limitations, use of social networking sites may contribute to the development of L2 writing skills. Obviously, Facebook  occupies a big part in the lives of young people and it can be used for teaching purposes after careful planning regarding the needs , abilities and available resources of the students.


According to literature, blogs offer various advantages in teaching writing such as fostering teacher-student and student-student interaction, offering writing practice, enabling the students to work in their own time and at their own pace. Process oriented writing focuses on continuous interaction among peers as well as between students and teachers. Peer reflection is valuable because it helps students develop an understanding of good writing.

In this article, researchers present the results of their study conducted with fifty intermediate level EFL students in Karadeniz Technical University. They test the impact of blog use on the writing performance of their students in a process oriented writing task. In this study, both the control and experimental groups followed similar procedures while doing the process-writing task. They were first taught the target paragraph types, then necessary language to write those specific paragraphs. Students received teacher modelling and were asked to choose a topic to write about. After this stage, the two groups’ tasks differentiated from each other.  The control group did their pre-writing activities in class time, received feedback from their teacher only and did not publish their work anywhere. However, they wrote reflections and shared them with their classmates only. The experimental group students wrote their paragraphs on their blogs in addition to having access to their tutor’s blog, where they could access model texts and extra input. In feedback stage they received feedback both from their teachers and their peers. They published their final papers on their blogs and wrote reflections on each other’s pages.

Efficacy of this procedure was calculated by comparing the pre test and post test results of both groups. The control group improved their scores by 6.321 points at the end whereas the experimental group improved by 16.197 points. The main concern of the study was to focus on whether the students improved their content and organizational skills along with an increase in grammatical and lexical areas. The researchers state that there was a dramatic increase in overall scores, especially in content and organization areas but they couldn’t find a meaningful difference in other fields: grammar and vocabulary.

The gap between the scores of the two groups could be explained by the positive effects of blogging such as easy access to instruction outside the school, abundance of feedback received, increased exposure time and more motivation. However, the number of participants is very small, a big concern for the generalizability of the results. Still, the researchers suggest that teachers integrate blog writing into process oriented writing tasks.



In their 2016 paper published in The Modern Language Journal, Chun, Kern and Smith first consider how technology use changes the ways contexts are produced and messages are conveyed. They then ask some practical questions to consider related to the way technology should be used in language learning and how to evaluate its efficacy.

The writers suggest that current literature makes a mistake by defining technology as the use of digital resources and computers only. Instead, they define it as a broad spectrum of mediational resources, ranging from writing and pictures to computers. They hope to give reader(s) an insight into a more “capacious view of technology”, which may help them adapt to tomorrow’s technologies to be invented as well as the current ones.

Whether technology is useful or harmful still remains a dilemma for teachers. The supporters of technology use advocate that it enhances intellectual capacity and creativity; on the other hand, research suggests that there are also downsides of technology use as it harms students in terms of their thinking and literacy. Literacy is defined in the article as “know-how needed to deal with technological forms of language both as a producer and as an interpreter of meaning”. Being literate in one form does not necessarily mean being literate in another (Kern, 2015).  It is suggested that teachers should adopt an approach highlighting the fact that every new technology builds up on the conventions of previous ones as well as bringing its own brand-new properties so that their learners can develop an understanding of the ways to cope with differences each time the medium or technological tool changes.

The writers state that teachers’ being confused about whether or not to use technology or how to use it is not an unexpected phenomenon. Although technology may be harmful in some ways, they argue that trying to exclude technology from any learning /teaching process seems unlikely today as it would be so unnatural, if not impossible. So, teachers must not focus on the question whether or not it is useful or harmful to use technology in class. Instead, they should focus on technology as a medium that affects the way the language(s) change. It is the teachers’ duty to show the students what the old and contemporary forms of language are; as the language also is reflected on many different materials and technology. They should teach students how to pay critical attention to culture bound forms of expression, meanings, ideologies and contexts as well as the mechanics of a language.

Technology use also changes many conventions of communication such as the time and space, genres, writer/reader roles. In the past, face to face communication was mainstream and there was a need for proximity. However, with technological tools, people can communicate via symbolic spaces and they can do it both synchronously and asynchronously. In electronic communication, we produce “disembodied language”-language interpreted at a later time than its production. This shift requires the language learners to be aware of “real” and “virtual” operations. Here, teachers can use explicit instruction to highlight this shift if the students are unfamiliar with the medium. Enabling the students to understand how one context differs from the other is also important because each technological communication medium brings about its own rules. An example to this is how the expectations about the acceptable speed of communication change with different tools such as texting, e-mails and postal mail.

Technology use in language learning/teaching raises questions of ethics. Today, the internet is widely available and anything on the internet is considered common property that can easily be copied and pasted, which makes plagiarism a huge issue. In addition, since the underlying cultural and mediational ways are overlooked, individuals take the credit for the whole production. In order to avoid this, teachers should familiarize students with the cultural values of the target language.

Language learners should also be informed about how deceptive people’s profiles or expressions in the text based technological mediums can be. As it is easier for people to construct a better-self online, individuals have a tendency to overestimate and idealize the qualities of others. This may affect the way the students see the culture. Also, anonymity in such environments may be both good and bad for students. It may be good in that students have more freedom when interacting with others. On the other hand, anonymity also lessens the feelings of responsibility and social obligation, which may give rise to conflicts or even verbal attacks.

Digital literacies have political dimensions that students need to be aware of.  When interacting through new communication technologies, people use their conventions about social life as well. Importance, social position, authority and dependability are also important elements of interaction through these tools. Although the internet can offer many benefits in education, it can also be used to dominate, manipulate or exploit others. When teaching literacies, teachers should make students think about how political dimensions may be interpreted differently by people from different cultures and they should teach them to be kind to others.

In the second part of the article, the writers suggest that teachers take four questions into consideration when teaching a language through technological mediums;

  1. What are the specific learning goals for the students?
  2. What language, culture and instructional resources are available?
  3. How can the available resources be best used to reach the learning goals?
  4. How can teachers assess the effectiveness of resources in attainment of the desired learning goals?

They argue that the needs and abilities of students should be taken into account when planning to use technological tools. The effectiveness of technological tool use depends partly on the literacies of students, which makes it imperative to familiarize students with the cultural relations, meanings and social contexts hidden in different literacies. Teachers also need to consider the availability of different resources that they can use while teaching a language. They should think about ways to incorporate new technologies into their teaching so that they can help students reach the desired communicative competence goals. As opposed to the older media that was only received (read), today’s media necessitates the learners to interact online as well as to create multi-dimensional contexts.  Although these new forms are superior to the previous forms in that they allow more communication and creation, they may also have some limitations. That is why, teachers should carefully design tasks that require the learners to do critical reflection. When it comes to measuring the effectiveness of technology use, teachers should not only focus on the learning outcomes but also on what happens along the way in the learning process. The preferences of and actions taken by learners can provide insight into how each learner makes use of specific technologies for learning purposes.


This article is an invaluable resource for the teachers who incorporate technology into their teaching because of several reasons. First, the article exemplifies some ways technology can be used in language learning by giving concrete examples for each one of the four skills. Secondly, it states the role expected from teachers in the process; teach language forms, but also familiarize students with how different tools shape our language use, how different factors come into play when using digital tools, help the learners follow the ethical codes of conduct and politeness as well as an understanding of the other culture(s). Finally, this article highlights the importance of critical reflection on language presented in digital mediums so as not to deter students from learning because of the overestimation of others’ qualities and feeling themselves inadequate. It must not be forgotten that language teachers are generally the planners, guiders and evaluators of students’ learning processes. So, the questions discussed in this article may shed light into their way.

EDITOR: Marie-Noëlle Lamy
EDITOR: Katerina Zourou
TITLE: Social Networking for Language Education
SERIES TITLE: New Language Learning and Teaching Environments
PUBLISHER: Palgrave Macmillan
YEAR: 2013

REVIEWER: Ferit Kilickaya, Mehmet Akif Ersoy University

Review’s Editor: Helen Aristar-Dry


Edited by Marie-Noёlle Lamy and Katerina Zourou, the volume aims to explore whether and how social networking promotes language learning. Through various chapters that focus on not only theoretical insights but also empirical data obtained from a variety of methodological approaches, the book touches upon issues such as the relationship between social networking, language learning and teaching, and how socialization in social media contributes to language education. The volume is composed of four parts, entitled ‘The Wider Ecology of Language Learning with SNS’, ‘Pedagogies and Practitioners’, ‘Learning Benefits and Challenges’, and ‘Overview’; it contains 10 chapters in total.

In Part I, ‘The wider ecology of language learning with SNS’, Chapter 1, by Jonathon Reinhardt and Hsin-I Chen, is entitled ‘An ecological analysis of social networking site-mediated identity development’ and investigates the social networking site (SNS) practices in Facebook and RenRen of a Chinese student doing her Ph.D. in Applied Linguistics in the USA. Through an ecological approach and a qualitative perspective, how this participant invested in a new identity was analyzed. The results of the study indicated that the participant used Facebook and RenRen to make new friends and as a means to socialize with other students to create her own identity as a Ph.D. student. As for the socialization process, the participant developed and presented her intercultural and multilayered identities (human, friend, girlfriend, student, teacher, and cultural and community participant).

In Chapter 2, entitled ‘Architecture students’ appropriation and avatars- -relationships between avatar identity and L2 verbal participation and interaction’, the authors, Ciara R. Wigham and Thierry Chanier, analyze the verbal interactions in SecondLife and VoiceForum of architecture students learning in L2. This chapter, like the previous one, focuses on identity construction in addition to the contribution of avatar appearance and nonverbal means of communication. The participants included eight female and nine male students aged 21 to 25 years old. The data were collected from group reflective sessions, recorded screen and audio output, and pre- and post-course questionnaires, as well as text-chat logs saved from reflective sessions. The results indicated that the participants attributed great importance to the use of avatars for L2 communication and that avatar appearance changed the way they addressed each other as well as their interaction in L2, suggesting that when the participants do not rely on their first world identity, their verbal interaction increases.

Chapter 3, ‘Online reading groups and network dynamics’ by Chris Lima and Marie- Noёlle Lamy, responds to how online reading groups (ORG) relate to historical reading groups, the role of online media in this relation, the online networking features of the ORG and how these features affect English Language Teaching (ELT) teachers’ professional development. One hundred twenty-six members of the ORG site participated in the study, and the data collection instruments included the documentation stored on the website, online survey, and the short pieces of writing provided by some of the participants on their participation in the ORG. The results revealed that the traditional practices of reading groups, such as sharing ideas and reading materials, were well suited to online media and that some members extended their online activities to offline activities and vice versa. The results also indicated that SNS such as Facebook does not seem to serve ELT teachers for professional development better than traditional websites such as forums.

In Part II, under the theme of ‘‘Pedagogies and Practitioners”, Chapter 4, ‘Bridging design and language interaction and reuse in Livemocha’s culture section’, is engaged with Web 2.0 language learning communities, particularly Livemocha, focusing on the section in which users can see other members’ cultural photos and/or share their own photos, in order to explore places around the world. The authors, Katerina Zourou and Mathieu Loiseau, examine whether different designs of Livemocha’s culture section affect language interaction and try to specify technological and pedagogical designs that will lead to an active social networking site. To this end, 105 culture threads in the culture section were randomly selected, and only the data that were open to public were subject to analysis. Following the data analyses, several design suggestions were made regarding social learning and feedback, one of which proposed including feedback loops in the design to sustain new users’ activities.

In Chapter 5, ‘Profiles in social networking sites for language learning- Livemocha revisited’, Richard Harrison aims to determine the role of user profile in SNS, focusing on how it affects the interactions between learners and peer experts. In this regard, he revisits a previous study conducted by Harrison and Thomas (2009) that discussed how user profiles and identities affected language learning and points out that in Livemocha, because of the lack of users that could help others, the users were in search of ‘experts’ to help them. The participants of the study included seven students in postgraduate applied linguistics, which deals with the use of technology in language teaching and learning. The study benefited from an enthomethodological approach and focused on how users interacted in Livemoacha. The data were collected from classroom observations, discussions, and presentations. The results showed that user profiles were at the very heart of interactions as they reinforced initial relationships that fostered learning.

Chapter 6, ‘It’s not just the tool: Pedagogy for promoting collaboration and community in social networking in CMC’, brings a different perspective to the use of technological tools in collaboration. The authors, Carolin Fuchs and Bill Synder, use the SNS Google Wave in their study, whose participants include pre-service language teachers in the USA and in Taiwan; they propose that how learners use the tool beyond pedagogical tasks matters more than which tool they use. Based on action research, the study focused on the participants’ collaborative exchanges, and the data were collected from the questionnaire where the participants were asked to reflect on the tools they used and on their exchanges. According to the results obtained, the participants highly valued Google Wave as it provided them with immediate communication and the opportunity to discuss projects; however, the results revealed limited evidence of social networking, leading to the conclusion that including a SN tool into the curriculum or a course did not ensure social networking.

Part III, under the theme of ‘Learning Benefits and Challenges’, opens with Chapter 7, ‘A study of the use of social network sites for language learning by university ESL students’, which focuses on examining the online communities Busuu, Livemocha, and English Café. The authors, Min Liu, Matthew K. Evans, Elianie Horwitz, Sunjung Lee, Monica McCrory, Jeong-Bin Park and Claire Meadows Parrish, investigate how university ESL students use these SNS for language learning and their perceptions regarding their experiences. The participants included twenty-one ESL university students from 11 countries that attended an Intensive English program in a southwestern University. The data were collected from the three ESL courses in which the participants used the aforementioned sites over six weeks to perform structured learning activities in class as well as outside. The findings demonstrated that all three sites allowed the participants to communicate with others, to make friends, and to collaborate with other users. However, the participants said that the main aim of using these sites was to practice language skills, rather than only socialize.

In Chapter 8, ‘Online and offsite: Student-driven development of the Taiwan-France telecollaborative project beyond these walls’, the authors, Meei-Ling Liaw and Kathryn English, examine how groups of students in two different countries construct meaning, present themselves, and develop their relationships with each other. The participants included forty-eight English majors in Taiwan and eighteen students of engineering or management in France. These two groups of students aimed to develop their intercultural communication skills in addition to learning through text-, audio-, and video-based exchanges. The data collected included the texts published by both groups on the official website of the project and the Facebook site created by the students. The results of the study revealed distinctive differences in the two sites, the official website, and the Facebook site, regarding the participants’ attitudes. On the official website, the interaction was mostly unidirectional since the participants only posted the tasks assigned by the instructor and focused on the assignments. However, on the Facebook site, initiated by the students, the exchanges were informal and more interactive.

Chapter 9, ‘Formative assessment within social network sites for language learning’, moves the discussion to how formative assessment is conducted on SNS. The authors, Paul Gruba and Cameron Clark, reflect on their own experiences as learners in Busuu, Livemocha, and Babbel and discuss how they go through three areas “placement”, “progress”, and “interaction”. The participants included the authors as beginner learners of Spanish. The results indicated that the participants considered peer assessment unsatisfactory and unrewarding, and the assessments on these sites were rather short and were provided in a model answer. Moreover, the responses provided as feedback by other users lacked consistency.

In Part IV, under ‘Overview’, Chapter 10, ‘Social media-based language learning: Insights from research and practice’, reviews all the previous contributions of the book in terms of research (types of research, themes explored, and data collection issues) and design and pedagogy (mediation, types of networking and community building, forms of interaction, genres, formal and informal learning). The authors, Marie-Noёlle Lamy and François Mangenot, reconsider all the contributions in the aforementioned perspectives and suggest different ways to make use of social networks, such as class-based exploitation of informal practices from the social web, small-group collaborative projects, and the introduction of learners to sites that include verbal productions and genres as models.


This collection is a useful textbook for postgraduate courses in foreign/second language learning as well as researchers in the field of language teaching and learning willing to analyze learner exchanges as well as learning experiences on online platforms, SNS.

The major strength of this book lies in the empirical investigations into learner experiences on SNS. We have a variety of books recently published on the use of technology in language learning and teaching (just to name a few, Thomas, 2009; Stockwell, 2012; Thomas, Reinders, & Warschauer, 2012; and very recently, Toetenela, 2014). This book builds on and extends the knowledge collected through these books and articles through data-based investigations using a variety of methods.

Each chapter in the book provides an effective overview of the issue being investigated with summaries of the points in key readings; this is followed by the study described in detailed. The studies discussed in each chapter are either researcher manipulated or naturally occurring. Moreover, the issues discussed include a variety of disciplinary resources such as sociology and educational technology, following qualitative and quantitative research methodologies.

Another strength of the book is the fact that the studies presented use a variety of research methodologies. For example, Chapter 9, entitled ‘‘Formative assessment within social network sites for language learning’, benefits from an autoethnographic survey of the researchers’ own experiences on some of the SNS, which will give some researchers the courage to conduct studies using this approach as most have difficulty accessing subjects. In this regard, the book also provides ‘food for thought’ for those interested in the application of a variety of research methodologies in their current and/or future studies on the use of technology in language learning and teaching.

Regarding improvements for the future editions of the book, I suggest that the effect of SNS on learner motivation be addressed. The editors, in the introduction part, explained that they did not receive any contributions, although the call for chapters also asked potential contributors to address this issue. Another suggestion is the inclusion of a glossary at the end of the book, including the terms that are specialized or newly-introduced.

Overall, this collection is an invaluable source of empirical studies for researchers, teachers, and graduate students interested in using social networking tools in language learning and teaching. Thus, the book will be of utmost value for those in search not only of studies that will inform them about recent literature but also of empirical investigations that can be used as a model for future studies.


Stockwell, G. (Ed.). (2012). Computer assisted language learning: Diversity in research and practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Thomas, M. (Ed.). (2009). Handbook of research on Web 2.0 and second language learning. Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference.

Thomas, M., Reinders, H., & Warschauer, M. (Eds.). (2012). Contemporary computer assisted language learning. New York, NY: Continuum.

Toetenela, L. (2014). Social networking: A collaborative open educational resource. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 27(2), 149-162.

This review appeared originally in the LINGUIST List at http://linguistlist.org/issues/25/25-4901.html

The work of Dr. Marc Prensky is quite interesting in that it dwells on the main reason of the decline in education system, results of which most educators are compelled to face with, even without suspecting or realizing it. He asserts that it is the generation gap separating today’s students from their teachers and summarizes the main reason by stating that “Our students have changed dramatically. Today’s students are no longer the people our education system was designed to teach.”

He mentions that today’s students have not just altered their dressing style, slang or appearance, but a lot more has been changed, and  he exemplifies this change by a striking example of the amount of time spent on using technological devices compared to the time spent on reading books. He also  states that “ a big discontinuity has taken place” which he names as “singularity”, and it led to a new thinking pattern in which he means they think and process information differently from their predecessors including thinking fast, parallel thinking and multi-tasking. Furthermore, he even states that today’ generation’s brains are likely to be physically different because of the tremendous input they received while growing up. He calls this generation “Digital Natives”, a term used for people born in the digital era, and “Digital Immigrants” referring to those born and grew up in pre-computer era, and throughout the article he mentions the differences lying between Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants, and its consequences. 

Associating the situation with cultural migration, he asserts that it very unlikely that Digital Natives will go backwards in which the traditional educators feel comfortable and are talented at teaching; therefore, he advocates that we need to get used to the new thinking pattern and reconsider our teaching style by adapting our “methodology and content”. He suggests that teachers are compelled to communicate in the language and style of their students. However, it does not mean changing the meaning of what is important, but it means changing the way you teach accordingly. The second issue dealt with is content – “legacy content” and “future content”. The former includes reading, writing, arithmetic, logical thinking etc. On the other hand, the latter one includes software, hardware, robotics, genomics etc. and it also includes  ethics, politics, sociology, language, and other things that go with them which catch attention of today’s generation. When he mentions the former one, he dwells on that these skills are still quite important; however, some of them will vanish in time, and he underlines that it is the latter one calling today’s generation’s attention. At this point, he poses the critical question: how many Digital Immigrants are prepared to teach it?

Having stated that the year the writer wrote the article can be no coincidence, I definitely agree with Dr. Prensky that worldviews of “Digital Immigrants” and “Digital Natives” represents are so different. Additionally, it has consequences educators have to deal with, and it is the educators that need to bridge the gap between “them” and “us”. Hence, it is crucial to adapt not only the methodology but also the content accordingly to reach Digital Natives without changing the meaning of what is important.

Reviewed Article:

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants. On the Horizon, 9(5), 1-6.


Brown identifies four themes in his article published in TESOL Quarterly in 1991 examining the current trends or state of art and providing an insightful map of the developments in teaching English to speakers of other languages. These could be outlined as;

a)      Learners

In this first theme, Brown tries to analyze some learner-related issues and answer questions such as “Why are our students learning English? What are their ultimate goals? What can knowledge of the English language do for them?” Therefore, learner motivation and empowerment get their share in Brown’s analysis. In the case of motivation, Brown prefers intrinsic vs. extrinsic dichotomy for pedagogical reasons instead of adopting Gardner’s integrative vs. instrumental dichotomy, and pays attention to the superiority of intrinsic motivation in the success of a language learner.

Empowerment, which refers to increasing the economic, political, social, educational, gender, or spiritual strength of individuals and communities according to Wikipedia, is the another case Brown looks at in this theme. Brown suggests that language teachers should work against the powerlessness of students and get them involved in the process of learning so that they could gain control over their lives.

b)     Sociopolitical and geographical issues

In this part, Brown illustrates the importance of English as an international language or which might be now called as Lingua Franca. As English becomes more dominant in every aspect of our lives especially in nonnative-English-speaking countries, the recognition of varieties of English gets much more important. Thus, including these varieties in the curriculum might cater to the immediate needs of learners. Brown also takes the expanding international range of language policy issues into account.

c)      Subject matter

Brown states that content-centered education presents both opportunities and challenges. In terms of opportunities, an increase in intrinsic motivation and empowerment could be observed in students. As for the challenges, they range from appropriate course books to other curricular activities. In addition, Brown suggests that task-based curricula could be helpful to organize content. Furthermore, he believes peace and environmental education might focus students on some human survival issues and empower them with consciousness. Hence, teachers should also play a different role as “transformative intellectuals”, helping learners to become aware about many earthly issues.

d)     Method

In this last but not least theme, Brown describes the change in the pedagogy, reminding the past, and highlights cooperative, learner-centered teaching. He sees learner strategy as an important factor in the ultimate attainment of language learning and urges teachers to help learners “to learn how to learn” so that they could easily adopt their own strategies.

Though Brown talked about these issues twenty three years ago, sounding like a really long time, these issues still hold their positions in TESOL at present time.