Effects of Technology-Enhanced Language Learning on Second Language Composition of University-Level Intermediate Spanish Students

Hands-on technology tools, some of which give students immediate feedback, allow
individuals to learn by working in what Vygotsky (1962) refers to as the zone of proximal
development (ZPD). This requires the presence of an expert other who supports the learner on
his/her journey through the ZPD. Learners utilize the language they have, working in the area
between their native language and the second language being studied on an interlanguage
continuum. On the path of language learning, interlanguage is the learner's use of language to
communicate as effectively as possible with the skills they have, i.e., the learner's version of the
target language. A computer practice program such as Spanish Partner allows students to work
at their own pace to learn grammar. Writing assistant programs such as Atajo bridge the gap
between what learners can accomplish at their current level of proficiency only with help and
what they will ultimately be able to accomplish independently.
In composition, for example, students can utilize programs such as Atajo that combine a
word processor with immediately available language reference databases that include a
dictionary, grammar reference with examples of use, spell checker, and pronunciation help. This
instantaneous accessibility may help students to express more fluidly their ideas, rather than
becoming frustrated in their expression by having to wait for a teacher or stop to use a reference
book. While peer writing can be helpful for editing if students are trained on the editing and
conferencing process, this is not always desirable nor is it feasible.
Thus, technology may increase student production, fluency and possibly the writer's
ability to produce meaningful texts earlier on in their language-learning curriculum. With such a
variety of tools as well as methods available, technology integration has the potential to provide
the necessary scaffolding and individual assistance for students in order to alleviate some of the
frustrations of learning to write in a second language. The efficacy of such technological

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Oxford, Raquel Malia Nitta. Effects of Technology-Enhanced Language Learning on Second Language Composition of University-Level Intermediate Spanish Students. Denton, Texas. UNT Digital Library. http://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc4688/. Accessed September 24, 2014.