Summary of #AusELT chat with Huw Jarvis on Mobile-Assisted Language Use (MALU), 5/8/14

Photo credit: @grahamstanley on eltpics

Photo credit: @grahamstanley on eltpics

Many thanks to Huw Jarvis (@TESOLacademic) for agreeing to be our guest for the August #AusELT chat. Thanks also to @ElkySmith for moderating. It was an interesting hour where several lines of discussion arose and it was good to see regular #AusELTers (@cioccas, @sujava, @Penultimate_K) joined by newcomers @McIntyreShona and @ReinventEnglish.

The topic of the chat was on the shift from traditional approaches in edtech (specifically CALL and MALL) to the more contemporary and social media-based MALU.

• First up – the acronyms:

CALL = computer assisted language learning
MALL = mobile assisted language learning
MALU = mobile assisted language use
SM = social media
ICC = intercultural communicative competence

MALU involves using a range of devices for a range of purposes in 2nd language learning. For our purposes in the chat, this is English. According to @TESOLacademic, MALU is a more accurate acronym to describe and investigate practice and it is his suggestion that MALU replace CALL/MALL which are misleading terms because what learners are doing with devices in less controlled contexts is rarely CALL and usually MALU.

The ‘M’ in MALL and MALU represents a broader range of devices than the ‘C’ in CALL. Mobility is now highly significant for all kinds of interactions in an L1 and for many also in an L2.

The ‘C’ in CALL comes from a bygone age of “just” desktops and laptops. Most blended learning curricula really still only acknowledge these two forms of technology and don’t really include mobile devices and social media.

The ‘U’ reflects not so much an aversion to the ‘learning’ in Krashen’s learning/acquisition dichotomy, but a recognition of a bigger picture in which acquisition is also recognised. One of the uses can be to consciously learn, but ‘picking up’ language through use is also significant, particularly with SM.

• Is there a place for MALU in ELT curricula or is its value more ‘extra-curricular’? (@ElkySmith)

If we define our job as being to equip students to operate efficiently in an L2 in a digital age, then there is a place in our curriculum. Introducing a digital literacies strand into the standard ELT syllabus “a la Pegrum et al” should definitely be considered as digital literacy in an L2 is key. It is, however, always a struggle to introduce anything new and many course designers are pushed to fit in such things as learning skills and critical thinking, never mind digital literacies! Therefore MALU ideas are best integrated into the syllabus and should not be treated as an ‘add-on’ – what Bax, discussing CALL, terms ‘normalisation’.

Some schools actually do have a social media curriculum but the example SM curriculum given by @McIntyreShona needed updating and could be made more interesting to students. This curriculum deals with Facebook, Twitter, wikis and blogs, the jargon which is used, and the shortcuts. The students, it seems, are not so much into wikis and blogs.

Incorporating digital literacy into ELT syllabi would also necessitate enhancing the digital literacy of teachers as not everyone knows how to gain and then impart these skills.

• SM in L1 and L2 is a dominant practice (outside class) for many users…so why does ELT neglect it? (@TESOLacademic)

It isn’t just SM use – ELT neglects a lot of things such as pronunciation, listening skills, and extensive reading! However, neglecting SM means missing out on the opportunities for more informal, incidental, incorporative, and authentic ways to acquire and use English. This is possibly because mobile technology is perceived as more social than educational and therefore not as ‘real’ learning. (@Penultimate_K)

When talking of areas in ELT that are neglected, @ElkySmith pointed out that intercultural communicative competence was one such area. He asked it if was possible that MALU could help with this? While it is possible that ICC is something that is gained incidentally through SM use, no one had really come across any real discussion of ICC and SM/ed tech, but @TESOLacademic noted that ICC and shifts away from EFL/ESL to ELF (English as a Lingua Franca) were also potentially well-aligned with MALU. For example, students report gaming online in L1 AND in L2. @ReinventEnglish asked if there were more games, apps, and SM that were ‘English Only? This perception of ‘English Only’ in games may be attributed to a bias towards the L2. The games are not so much developed as ‘English Only’ but because more often than not English is the language that the game-developers use, the gamers engage in the dominant language and adapt it so that they can participate in the game. Internet cafes in countries such as Thailand are packed with gamers playing in their L1 and L2 and the interchanges are ‘effortlessly macaronic and weighted more to L2’.

@TESOLacademic stated that SM ’belongs’ to [the digital residents] as it is not a ‘virtual learning environment’ like Blackboard or Moodle. There is certainly a difference between the ‘environment’ of the VLE and the ‘residence’ of the digital resident.

• Perceptions of MALU when used in class

This ownership (of English and of SM) is not always apparent to the students themselves, despite the fact that MALU arises out of work on student practices NOT teacher preferences (@TESOLacademic). @McIntyreShona pointed out that as well as being reluctant to engage in Facebook and other SM in English, her students are often worried about their lack of accuracy. This is interesting as it indicates that if SM forms part of a class activity, students see accuracy as being important. However, when engaging in extra-curricular SM or in gaming, accuracy is not so important to them.

Accuracy-based activities are perhaps seen as part of a more traditional CALL approach (which involves practice – rather than use – of English in the self-access centre) and of teacher-directed activities. It seems that students frequently post in L2 on Facebook with each other but respond less to teachers’ posts. It is possible that this is because they may be worried about everything the teacher sees as something which may be assessed, so they are giving priority to accuracy over fluency in these interchanges. (It is also significant that if the teacher starts using ‘their’ SM space, it may start ‘looking like learning and not so much fun!’ @cioccas) Studies have shown that students in the UAE as well as Thailand use both L1 and L2 with SM. Other studies show more L2 ‘turn-taking’ happens online compared with face-to-face interaction which again has implications for the fluency/accuracy debate as well as for teacher-directed vs self-directed learning and L2 use.

• How to use MALU in class – some suggestions

o For an EAP task, have students evaluate the credibility of websites and also to reference them.
o Get students to ‘interact’ (beyond clicking on “like”) in an L2 with Youtube. It was pointed out that Youtube use was passive and receptive (which is not a bad thing) and that it could be balanced out with other social media, Twitter, Facebook, etc. for more active and productive use.
o To review and share useful websites. (The teacher provides models for discussion, then negotiates the criteria with the class – all depends on the skills in class)
o Create a video introduction (an idea from a UECA PD session that @cioccas saw)
o Use apps in English (‘getting away from learning’ is arguably good – @TESOLacademic is with Krashen on this!) rather than using apps to learn English. Both are okay to do, but students’ expressed preference suggests the former
o “Managing” information e.g. deleting, putting things in folders, saving/backing up in virtual spaces (Dropbox,

• To conclude:

“So long as they’re using L2, it’s a win, IMO.” @McIntyreShona
“YES ;-) … and they may learn more too!” @TESOLacademic


From Huw (@TESOLacademic)

Web-page with keynote addresses, articles, and other links

From Lesley (@cioccas) (video introductions with a new class)

Bax – normalisation (of CALL)

Krashen – learning/acquisition distinction

Pegrum et al – digital literacies strand

Upcoming #AusELT chat with Huw Jarvis – Tuesday August 5th 8:30pm AEST

Please note that this #AusELT chat session will be held on Tuesday August 5th at 8:30pm AEST (11:30am BST) when we will be joined by our special guest Huw Jarvis. 


Shifting from Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) to Mobile Assisted Language Use (MALU) for describing and investing practice

Many teachers and students lament how fast technology has changed in recent years. ELT, with its abundance of acronyms, has often tried to label things. Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) has been a predominant one for many years. Technological changes have seen the emergence of newer acronyms; Mobile Assisted Language Learning (MALL) and more recently Mobile Assisted Language Use (MALU).

This chat session will explore MALU and how Huw feels it can ‘describe, investigate and inform practice’. He notes that his own ideas on MALU are ‘still evolving’ so he sees the chat session as ‘an opportunity to share ideas and issues’.

Huw feels It would be useful for participants to read the following two papers:

Jarvis, H. (2014). ‘Digital residents: Practices and perceptions of non native speakers.’ Asian EFL Journal Teaching Articles. Vol. 75. pp. 21-35. Available from

Jarvis, H. and Achilleos, M. (2013). ‘From computer assisted language learning (CALL) to mobile assisted language use.’  TESL-EJ.  Vol. 16. No.4. pp. 1-18. Available from

Both papers (and many more) are available as open access from where Huw is the editor.

We look forward to seeing you and Huw on Tuesday August 5th at 8:30pm AEST (11:30am BST). 

#AusELT chat summary: “Professional development – that’s what I want!” (3rd July 2014)

What do we want imageWhat a lively chat about professional development! @cioccas posted some questions for us to think about before the chat and then structured the chat around these. This was a great idea because we could formulate some answers before the chat and this made it easier to post (copy and paste our pre-written ideas) and took the stress off us to constantly type (well, at least that’s what I did!) The questions and issues we discussed are below, and the main comments are summarised.


What do teachers want and expect from PD?

@andrea_rivett posted: “It should be relevant, interesting and get me to think about my own practice.” @Penultimate_K commented that newer teachers wanted direction and skills development and more experienced teachers wanted refinement and innovation. @KateRoss0901 reminded us that some teachers wanted traditional forms of PD such as post-graduate study, seminars and workshops. @sujava and @sophiakhan4 wondered whether all teachers wanted PD. @sujava mentioned that any PD should include a takeaway for use in the classroom as teachers are time poor.

What is PD?

@Penultimate_K reminded us that self-directed PD is often forgotten as a form of informal PD. @KateRoss0901 made the insightful comment that we encourage our students to be self-directed learners but don’t seem to follow this approach in our own PD. @andrea_rivett raised the question of a definition of PD. Is it formal, informal, online, F2F, written, spoken, individual, collaborative, paid, unpaid, teacher-directed, institution-directed? Does it result in a certificate / assessment / observation / some form of classroom practice? Is it private reflection? Who defines it and how do we motivate teachers to participate in it?

@cioccas said that teachers should choose what PD they wanted and that it should be differentiated. @sophiakhan4 recommended we all read Karen Benson and Phil Chappell’s contribution on PD in the English Australia Journal as it deals with a program for differentiated PD.

Expectations around PD

@sujava said that some teachers felt pressed for time and felt that PD was an imposition. @MeredithMacaul1 reminded us of teacher workload as obstacles to attending PD. @cherrymp asked if these things were excuses. @sujava mentioned that some people want to teach / do their job and then go home and @SophiaKhan4 asked if we had unrealistic expectations of teachers. Are people in other professions required / expected to do PD?

A few people mentioned that PD should be provided as part of the job and @aparnajacob said that people expected to be paid as part of PD. Personally, I would expect mandated PD to be paid but anything I was interested in I could pursue myself. It’s always worth putting in a proposal to management to have PD subsidized (e.g. travel and accommodation expenses). Online PD would save costs here but @cioccas has observed that online PD is not always accepted by managers.

What do managers want and expect from teacher PD?

@andrea_rivett said PD was everyone’s responsibility but teachers and managers could suggest, deliver and organise it. @michaelgriffin asked how we can encourage and support teachers to manage their own PD, seek opportunities for PD on their own and become independent learners. This is a question those in management and teacher development constantly grapple with.

 A PD budget

The conversation turned to how to allocate a PD budget. Some recommendations included:

  • any budget for group and individual PD should be aligned to organizational goals
  • teachers who were sponsored by their organisation to attend an event could come back to their campus / college and share what they learned
  • learning institutions could take turns in hosting PD to keep costs down
  • teachers can share delivery (reduced prep time) so a guest speaker is not needed (and therefore no payment required)
  • teachers can put in proposals for external PD conferences and if accepted their college could pay for them to go
  • get staff to deliver PD, everyone votes and the best presenter gets a PD allowance (to attend a conference etc.) with the aim always being to bring back and share the ‘learning’

 Sharing PD opportunities

The conversation then turned to how to share PD opportunities / advertise PD. Some ideas were:

  • Bulletin board, newsletter, group / email list
  • Scoop.It (online magazine), English Australia newsletter

@cioccas asked how information about PD opportunities was disseminated to teachers who weren’t connected and @KateRoss0901 commented that this could be approached from various angles (formal, informal, electronic, spoken, written), which would catch a wider audience. She also commented that employees had a responsibility to develop themselves.

Who participates in PD? Why / why not?

@hairychef asked the pertinent question: “Has the issue of low engagement in highly qualified staffrooms been addressed?” @sujava mentioned PLNs: Facebook, Pearltrees and Twitter and showing people how to sign up. @cioccas mentioned that she has seen little take up of this from teachers even after several attempts.

This prompted the question from @cioccas: “How to encourage and support teachers to manage their own PD, seek opportunities for PD on their own and become independent learners?” @cioccas suggested a series of teacher-led PD sessions, which are starting to take off where she works. @sophiakhan4 mentioned the benefit of having models to inspire and show others what is achievable. She met her models through social media. A few people commented that managers should model best practice.

NB: If interested, you can

What is the role of teachers in their own PD?

 Some suggestions included:

  • to think about what they are interested in vs what they “need” to improve in
  • to run a PD session each – nothing too fancy (30 mins)
  • to do PD in pairs
  • to have active roles in Professional Organisations

Explore here for more ideas on:

What is the role of managers in teacher PD?

 Some suggestions included that managers should:

  • give PD presenting opportunities and responsibilities to teachers
  • have active roles in Professional Organisations
  • model good learning and development (mentoring)
  • use / allocate mentors to promote enthusiasm and commitment

Engagement and feeling valued

The conversation turned to teachers not feeling engaged because they didn’t feel valued and two points were raised. Firstly, do teachers not feel valued because of low self-esteem? Secondly, is the issue here industry baseline standards? Should entry to TEFL be like entry to medicine with the same standards? Would this make teachers more engaged in PD? @hairychef suggested ongoing demand-high teacher training. @KateRoss0901 mentioned that teachers may feel that remuneration didn’t warrant further investment in their careers. @cherrymp suggested we keep working on it that change will come.

On that hopeful note the chat was wrapped up at 9.30pm and we were all left with ideas for moving forward with PD in our centres. I suggest we try some of these ideas and report back from time to time on the AusELT Facebook page.

This post by @sujava


Professional Development – that’s what I want!

The next #AusELT Twitter chat will take place on Thurs 3rd July at 8.30pm Sydney time (click here to see the time where you are). #AusELT stalwart Lesley Cioccarelli has kindly volunteered to manage and moderate this one, on a topic which is close to her heart: professional development. In this pre-chat post she shares some questions and resources to get you in the mood :) 

What do we want image It seems that everyone wants more Professional Development (PD), teachers and managers alike. But do we want the same things, and do we want them in the same timeframes, formats, etc.?

These are some of the questions we could discuss in the chat:

  • What do teachers want and expect from PD?
  • What do managers want and expect from teacher PD?
  • What is the role of teachers in their own PD?
  • What is the role of managers in teacher PD?
  • What do each of these groups think the role of the other is?
  • What happens when these are NOT compatible?

We are all trying to teach, encourage and nurture independent learning skills in our students. So how well are the teachers doing in their own independent learning? In a conversation with a highly respected teacher educator recently, where I was lamenting the reluctance of some teachers to seek their own learning opportunities, even when they were offered to them on a plate, she commented:

I think some people only think PD is relevant if it directly answers a current and immediate problem for them. They do not see it as an opportunity to broaden horizons, or think differently or even just connect with others. What can you do?”

So what can we do? My next question:

  • How do we (as managers or teaching colleagues) encourage and support teachers to manage their own PD, to seek opportunities for PD on their own, to become independent learners?

I would love to discuss how we can encourage teachers to share, reflect on, and discuss their learning, both in their workplace and beyond, but I think that might be a topic of another discussion.  :)

I realise that discussing this on #AusELT is a bit like preaching to the converted, but I think that through sharing experiences and ideas on these issues and more, we can maybe brainstorm some solutions for the benefit of us all.

Some resources to think about

These are mostly related to the role of the manager (or principal) and all come from school sectors, but I think there are ideas we can borrow.

    • Pedigo, M. (2004). Differentiating Professional Development: The Principal’s Role. Melbourne, Hawker Brownlow Education. I love this little book! It has many practical ideas in the ‘Action Steps’ boxes in each section. It’s quite cheap, but unfortunately is not available as a download that I can find. You can view sample pages on the publishers website. There’s also a review here.
    •  Johnson, J. (2011). Differentiating Learning for Teachers. Connected Principals (blog). Extract: “After attending Lyn’s session (*), I started to wonder: Why have they become complacent? Why are they not continuing their own professional learning? Have we given teachers an environment in which they have had an opportunity to continue to grow as professionals? Have we given them the autonomy to expand their knowledge/skills and take risk in the classroom?
    • *Hilt, L. (2011). Differentiated Learning: It’s Not Just for Students! Reform Symposium RSCON3 2011. (Recording). This is the session referred to above. In her session, Lyn talks about Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) and experiential learning for teachers. Also checkout her slides and list of resources referenced in the talk here.
    • Hunzicker, J. (2010). Characteristics of effective professional development: A checklist. Extract: “Effective professional development engages teachers in learning opportunities that are supportive, job-embedded, instructionally-focused, collaborative, and ongoing.” NB: The checklist on page 13, customised to your environment, might be useful for both managers and teachers alike.
    •  Jayaram, K., Moffit, A. & Scott, D. (2012). Breaking the habit of ineffective professional development for teachers. McKinsey on Society (blog). More focused on the manager (or school/college) providing the PD for teacher, but has some useful ideas.

Hope to ‘see’ you next week for the chat – looking forward to sharing ideas with you then!

This post by Lesley Cioccarelli (@cioccas)

#AusELT summary – Psuedoscience and Neuromyths 1/5/14 with Russell Mayne @ebefl

Russell Mayne announced himself as the new pin up boy of ESL at the recent IATEFL conference with his attempted burning at the stake of pseudoscience (PS) and neuromyths that pervade/populate (circle the verb that best applies to you) our industry. Are these theories really zombies that refuse to die and erode our professional standards or mere harmless half-truths such as gum taking ten years to digest (more on that later!). Can these theories instead potentially promote a form of curiosity that could be beneficial for teachers and students?

Before reading further get a better understanding of the issue by watching Russel’s entertaining talk at IATEFL ‘A guide to pseudo-science in English language teaching’and reading his recent article ‘Tales of the Undead’ at ELTJAM. The #AusELT chat on this topic traversed such things as Suggestopedia, urban myths, the potential harm of PS,  waste of resources, nasal learners, zodiac textbooks, the divorcing of VAKS from multisensory input and exorcism (I bet you’re sorry you missed this one).

So let’s look at what went down.  A core part of the chat looked at the potential or lack of harm PS can have on ESL. On one side there was the opinion that yes it does cause harm supported by a slide from Russel Mayne’s presentation. @SophiaKhan4 noted that “some people put a lot of time/effort into e.g. A Suggestopedia lesson. Should this be happening in this century?”

















While on the other side some participants believed that the harm was not apparent.  In particular @michaelegriffin wasn’t “convinced as @ebefl that the harm is so great or so clear.” @trylingual noted that writers who support PSs must influence trainees but also went onto to raise the point of urban myths and their lack of harm.












The discussion then moved towards the weak acceptance of PS and that it could be used as a form of content to generate discussion. @michaelegriffin said he uses things like horoscopes and learner style surveys and that he was not “indoctrinating folks into it”. @trylingual saw this as “a weak acceptance of PSs for a purpose”.

The conversation then moved towards VAKS. A division was made by @michaelgriffin that “potential problems come when we try to teach based on VAKS, LS or MI”.  @Sophia Khan believed that “variety/change of pace is just good, and ps human cognition inevitably draws on ALL available resources. “  Also others agreed about keeping activities varied.


Russell Mayne @ebefl got out of bed at this point and noted:











@chimponobo made the point that PS could have a positive washback on the classroom with more varied activities being used. Russell Mayne @ebefl responded to this by saying “it could. But is there another way to get this positive feedback without the magical thinking??”

The discussion then moved towards waste of resources and @SophiaKhan4 said “would hard-up teachers be better off spending their pd budget on other things?” @Chimponbo responded by not remembering seeing much money being spent on these types of resources. An odour based curriculum was briefly broached which you can read more about in the links.  At this point @MichaelChesnut2 provided a formula “opportunity costs in teaching: A vs B vs C in teaching & time/effort.”

@Sophia Khan made the point why are we even bothering with PS. While @sujava believed “Alt methods, any methods – the more you know the more tools you have up your sleeve when needed.”

@trylingual drew attention to Mike Smith on the #AusELT Facebook page who talked about teacher enthusiasm (for PSs). Mike Smith said “Bottom line is, teachers are more successful and effective if they are passionate and enthusiastic. The same is true of learners, and we can all relate to inspirational teachers in our past.” Following this some articles were shared on teachers doing research papers on PS. Also the “baloney detection kit” was mentioned (see links at the end of the article). Also @ebefl was asked to provide the best evidence against PS. @ebefl noted there is not much criticism in the EFL literature of NLP except Thornbury 2001 (see links at the end of the article).

An appropriate way to end the chat is how @michaelegriffin was inspired:












So Pseudo Science friend or foe? Where do you stand on this issue?


Post written by Damien Herlihy, @chimponobo


Glossary of Acronyms/Terms

Nasal Learners – Learners who acquire languages more effectively through the use of the olfactory system.

Neuro-Linguistic Programing (NLP) – A half-baked mix of communication, personal development and psychotherapy that has risen into some language learning classrooms.

Pseudo-Science (PS) – Science that is not based on research such as ‘the world is round’ and ‘global warming’.

Suggestopedia –  Suggest a whole lot of stuff and get it adopted as an alternative teaching method.

VAKS – Visual, Auditory, Kinaesthetic & Sensory





#AusELT chat summary: Management issues, with Andy Hockley (5 June, 2014)

© Aparna Jacob

© Aparna Jacob

Our one-hour chat on ‘management issues’ was certainly fast and furious. Many interesting issues were touched on, some that we surely need to come back to in more detail another time! Aparna Jacob has done a wonderful job with the summary on Storify – click here to see what we talked about, and feel free to keep the conversation going by commenting below or on the #AusELT Facebook page. Many thanks to Aparna and to everyone who attended the chat. And special thanks, of course, to Andy Hockley as our expert moderator.

PS: If you’d like to know more about Andy, check out his blog, From Teacher to Manager, or follow him on Twitter.

This post by @sophiakhan4

Upcoming #AusELT Twitter chat: Management Issues, with Andy Hockley

andyhockleyIn response to recent interest in discussing ‘management issues’, we’ve invited honorary #AusELTer Andy Hockley (@adhockley) to join us as a guest moderator in our next Twitter chat, which will take place on Thurs 5th June at 8.30pm Sydney time (to check the time where you are, click here).

Andy is the lead trainer on the IDLTM (International Diploma in Language Teaching Management), and he frequently delivers workshops, conference talks and other trainings on the subject of ELT management. He is also the co-author of From teacher to manager: Managing language teaching organisations (CUP, 2009) and Managing education in the digital age: Choosing, setting up, and running online courses (The Round, 2014), and a long-standing committee member of the IATEFL Leadership and Management Special Interest Group (LAMSIG).

Whatever type of academic manager – or ‘managee’ – you are,  please come along to share your experiences, ideas and tips, and to get constructive advice on problems you may be facing right now.

Some questions that might get you thinking:

  • What do you regard as the key skills of an academic manager?
  • What do you wish you had known before you took on a management role?
  • Are there any issues that particularly affect us in Australia? How can these be addressed?

These are just a few ideas – feel free to bring your own questions to the chat or post them below. And see you on Thursday!


This post by @sophiakhan4