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Research help request


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Got this from an academic who's posted on here in the past on behalf of (I assume) one of her PhD students. Seems like a good fit for the forum, so if anyone's interested, get in touch. If you have any questions post 'em here and I'll try and get them answered. There's mention of a face-to-face briefing in London being needed on the linked blog, but that's not mentioned below, so not sure if it's necessary or not. [edit: it's not]


Platforms covered are Memrise, Chinesepod and Livemocha. 


Message follows


I am Jenifer, a PhD student at the Institute of Education. The working title of my thesis is 'Language learning in online platforms: A multimodal study of English speakers learning Chinese'. I am using social semiotic multimodality to understand learners' engagement on these platforms when they learn Chinese, what modes do they make use of, and how their interest determine the reading path that they take. This will be done primarily through indirect observation by the use of Camtasia screen recording. What participants will do is to install Camtasia on their computer and record their screen while they are learning on the platform. This can be done at their leisure without my presence. They will also attend interviews and keep a brief learning diary throughout the process. Please refer to this blog for more details about the research: http://multimodallanguagelearning.wordpress.com/

These platforms are run by private companies, but most of the content are free of charge. Once learners sign up for the platforms, they will be given a variety of lessons to take. Learners can decide what lesson to take, when to take them, and the order of taking them. These platforms provide a multimodal environment for language learning, and they also offer the possibility for learners to interact with native speakers of the target language through different means, such as commenting and rating on each others' progress. But since my study takes an ethnographic case study approach, this kind of interaction may or may not happen. Learners can decide whether to engage in these interactions or not.

From a broader perspective, this study focuses on informal, autonomous language learning that occurs outside of education institutions. It is to gain a deeper understanding on the multimodal environment offered by these platforms, and how learners with different interest navigate through this space. They can either be used as a stand-alone tool to learn Chinese, or as supplementary materials if learners are already attending face-to-face classes. The duration of the study is one month, and after one month I will review the progress with individual participants and I will let them decide whether to continue or not. As an incentive, I can give a face-to-face Chinese lesson to participants after the study if they wish.

Thank you for your help and please let me know if you need more information.

Best wishes


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