Scaffolding for content knowledge of home language learning by collaborative online dictionaries

Michele F. Van der Merwe

Abstract


Dictionaries provide language learners and language users with lexical information and serve as mediating, supporting tools during language learning. Online dictionaries in the form of wikis can be assembled by dictionary users themselves. Their construction (selection of terminology and content of descriptions) in the home language class facilitates learning. During the learning process, dictionary users (university students, in this case) construct new knowledge and meaning based on their own experiences and motivations. The article is based on reflective feedback from a dictionary project undertaken in a faculty of education at a university in the Western Cape. Senior home language students were guided to collaboratively develop an online dictionary of language for specific purposes, thereby improving their communicative skills in addition to their lexical and academic subject vocabulary knowledge. Technology-enhanced language learning was mediated through a task-based language learning process. Data were generated by means of questionnaires that presented students with an opportunity to critically reflect on the use of technology as well as their own construction of knowledge by describing different scaffolding strategies in the selection of vocabulary employed during the process of wiki compilation. Positive results from the study highlight the benefits of appropriate, collaborative use of technology during language learning in a home language class. A new scaffolding model for learning content knowledge in the home language in a technology-enabled environment is proposed in the article.


Keywords


home language learning; technology-integration; wiki

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5785/36-1-893

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