Informal digital learning of English and English as an international language: The path less traveled

Ju Seong (John) Lee

The University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign


Date: 5 March, 2018 (Monday)

Time: 4:30-5:45 p.m.

Venue: CPD 2.58, Jockey Club Tower



With the greater affordability of digital devices (e.g., smartphones) and resources (e.g., social media and digital games) and their enormous potential for English learning outcomes, Informal Digital Learning of English (IDLE) has garnered much research attention during the past decade as regards volume and topics (Lai, 2017; Lee, 2017, 2018). IDLE can be understood as self-directed informal English learning using a range of different digital devices and resources independent of formal contexts. Concurrently, with the rapid advancement in technology, combined with the proliferation of globalization, interaction with diverse English users in multicultural and multilingual contexts has become the norm today (Friedman 2005). Against this shifting sociocultural and sociolinguistic landscape, English as an International Language (EIL) scholarship has long been devoted to re-conceptualizing conventional ELT and teaching EIL (TEIL) for the purpose of preparing English learners to function effectively as competent English users in today’s multicultural contexts (Smith, 1976; Matsuda, 2017).


However, to date, the relationship between IDLE and EIL remains an area of exploration. To address this gap, the hypothesized model – students’ engagement in IDLE practice will be significantly and positively related with their perception of EIL – was tested using a survey with 317 Korean EFL university students. The results of Structural Equation Modeling found a strong, significant, and positive relationship between IDLE activities in which EFL learners engage and their EIL perception. Practically, these findings help broaden the scope of conventional EIL intervention beyond the classroom as a complementary EIL pedagogical model. From a theoretical perspective, this study represents a conceptual advance in our understanding of IDLE by adding a new insight to the current literature. This study also makes a contribution toward bridging an interdisciplinary divide between IDLE and EIL.


Bio Statement:

Ju Seong (John) Lee has successfully defended his doctoral dissertation titled “Informal digital learning of English: The case of Korean university students” at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). This dissertation is externally supported by TESOL International, Korea TESOL, National Federation of Modern Language Teachers Associations and Modern Language Journal. His research interests include Informal digital learning of English, Computer-mediated communication, and English as an International Language. His scholarly work appears in TESOL Quarterly, British Journal of Educational Technology, ReCALL, Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, and Asian Englishes.


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