Effects of Technology-Enhanced Language Learning on Second Language Composition of University-Level Intermediate Spanish Students Page: 133
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Teachers often focus on mechanics (spelling, accentuation and punctuation) in foreign
language writing in addition to grammatical accuracy, yet perhaps this attention is unwarranted.
Polio (2001) questions whether mechanics is a construct at all and whether it is important to
writing researchers. In the few writing studies which have included mechanics (typically a
secondary focus of these investigations), change over time in learners' ability to correctly apply
mechanics was not statistically significant (Hedgcock & Lefkowitz, 1992; Pennington & So,
1993; Tsang, 1996). This study did not focus on mechanics, but it is clear that students do not
effectively use the available technology tools, such as spell checkers, and should be encouraged
to do so.
With improvements in both the experimental and control groups on the total composition
score as well as the students' positive remarks regarding writing with technology in the lab,
support is evident for the integration of computer writing assistants in the foreign language
curriculum. Using Atajo for writing facilitates the writing experience by allowing time for
reflection, rereading, and cut-and-paste editing techniques. Previous research by Pennington
(2003) bears out the need for such and the usefulness of computers for second language writers.
Another observation during this study with implications for technology integration is that
in spite of repeated practice, some students will continue to "misuse" technology. Several
researchers have found that students did not use technology as instructed (Baily, 1992/1993;
New 1994/1995), and the implication is that in some cases students require more guidance to use
technology than might be expected (Burston, 1991; Scott, 1990). This need to provide more
explicit directions and monitoring of students is critical if they are to reap the benefits of the
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Oxford, Raquel Malia Nitta. Effects of Technology-Enhanced Language Learning on Second Language Composition of University-Level Intermediate Spanish Students, dissertation, December 2004; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc4688/m1/142/: accessed February 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .