The Potential of Blended ESOL Courses: Attitudes and Practices Among the UK Immigrants

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A considerable number of immigrants in the United Kingdom confront challenges as they acculturate into a new way of life, where language competence significantly influences their social, economic and cultural integration. Such immigrants are often at an educational and social disadvantage compared to the majority of population due to their different social and cultural backgrounds, prior educational experience and the lack of language competencies. The use of technologies for teaching / learning the host country language has been emphasized in European Strategy 2020 policy. Although learning of English usually takes place very naturally in an English-speaking informal environment, formal educational institutions in the UK and immigrants’ native countries tend to be very helpful as well. Assuming that such learners of English usually need more intensively-paced learning and knowing that professional commitments or other reasons can prevent them from coming to classes, blended learning can help them reach their goals faster and not lose connection with their native country. In order to develop insight into such English learners’ needs as well as to identify teaching forms that could help in meeting these needs, this study used a survey to explore the most important factors influencing the development of the UK immigrants’ English language competence and students’ general practice of using ICT for English learning and their attitudes towards ICT in foreign language learning. Furthermore, the research aimed to answer the question whether a blended strategy of language learning organized by their native countries institutions would be able to positively influence the learning outcomes while maintaining a connection with their native country and culture. The research sample was a group of English learners enrolled in an ESOL course. To explore the needs, experiences and attitudes of the participants, a quantitative research methodology was applied and short semi-structured interviews were conducted. The present research has demonstrated that the advancement of technologies has increased the use of ICT not only for personal purposes but also for work and studies. The students have indicated quite a frequent use of various on-line English study tools and programmes and have demonstrated a generally positive attitude towards blended English learning.

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