Volume 18, Issue 3 December 2022, pp. 360–381 Download PDF

Regular Articles

EFL teachers’ perceptions of online community projects in secondary school education

Lesley Fearn  https://orcid.org/ 0000-0002-8618-40791

1 The Open University, UK lesley.fearn@gmail.com

DOI: https://doi.org/10.29140/jaltcall.v18n3.600


Abstract

English as a Foreign Language (EFL) is crucial in most secondary schools within the EU, yet teachers face many challenges. To provide their students with a means of communication that motivates learning and incites learner-centred methods, some teachers have invested their expertise in developing a pedagogically sound use of Online Community Projects (OCPs) in their classroom teaching. This paper reports on the perspectives and experiences of EFL teachers teaching in secondary schools across three countries, including the north and south of Italy, the east of Norway and the west of Sweden. Data were collected from thirteen EFL teachers: ten were users of OCPs, while the other three had chosen not to use them. Methods used to gather data were individual face-to-face interviews and open-question questionnaires. The results showed that all teachers felt that working on OCPs could benefit their EFL acquisition and professional development. The choice not to use OCPs had its roots in teachers’ philosophical beliefs on teaching and a preference for teacher-led approaches that provided control over the class. On the other hand, teachers who chose to integrate OCPs into their curriculum felt empowered using learner-centred tools and believed that their students had improved in all areas of EFL. In addition, they enjoyed exchanging ideas and experiences with colleagues and felt they had become more successful and expert teachers. This research provides an insight into why so many teachers in Italy and other countries choose not to integrate OCPs into their curriculums or to use social constructivist learner-centred methods. It also offers a lens through which to examine the potential of OCPs as tools for teachers’ professional development and introduce teachers to social constructivist teaching approaches. This study also has implications for teachers wishing to include OCPs into their curriculum.



Copyright

© Lesley Fearn

CC  4.0
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


Suggested citation

Fearn, L. (2022). EFL teachers’ perceptions of online community projects in secondary school education. The JALT CALL Journal, 18(3), 360–381. https://doi.org/10.29140/jaltcall.v18n3.600


Author biodata

Dr Lesley June Fearn is an affiliate researcher with the Open University’s (UK) Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies (WELS). She also works as an English teacher in a secondary school in southern Italy, where she experiments with information and communications technology to motivate her students. Lesley’s research interests lie in education technology, learner autonomy and online community projects.


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