The goal of this work is to explore the role of technology tools in enhancing the teaching and learning processes for English as a foreign or second language. Literacy is a crucial skill that is often linked to quality of life. However, access to literacy is not universal. Therefore, the significance of this research is its potential impact on the global challenge of improving child and adult literacy rates. Today's globalized world often demands strong English literacy skills for success because the language of instruction and business is frequently English. Even in Qatar's efforts to create a knowledge economy, Education City was established with the majority of instruction in English. Moreover, NGOs such as Reach Out to Asia are partnering with Education City universities to teach English literacy to migrant laborers in Qatar. Many migrant workers reside and work in Qatar for many years and can often improve their job prospects if they speak and understand English. However, Qatar's English literacy problems are not limited to the migrant population. The latest published (2009) PISA (Program for International Assessment) results show that 15-year-olds in Qatar for the most part are at Level one out of six proficiency levels in literacy. Qatar placed among the lowest of the 65 countries that participated in this PISA Assessment. Several research groups have developed technology to enhance literacy skills and improve motivation for learning. Educational games are in increasing demand and are now incorporated into formal education programs. Since the effectiveness of technology on language learning is dependent on how it is used, literacy experts have identified the need for research about appropriate ways and contexts in which to apply technology. Our work shares some goals with the related work, but there are also significant differences. Most educational games and tools are informed by experts on teaching English skills, focused on the students, and act as fixed stand-alone tools that are used outside the school environment. In contrast, our work is designed to complement classroom activities and to allow for customization while remaining cost effective. As such, it seeks to engage parents, teachers, game developers and other experts to benefit and engage learners. Through this work, we engage with different learner populations ranging from children to adults. Expected outcomes of our work include the design, implementation, and testing of accessible and effective computing technology for enhancing English literacy skills among learners across the world. This suite of computer-based and mobile phone-based tools is designed to take into account user needs, local constraints, cultural factors, available resources, and existing infrastructure. We field-test and evaluate our literacy tools and games in several communities in Qatar and in the United States. Through this work, we are advancing the state-of-the-art in computer-assisted language learning and improving the understanding of educational techniques for improving literacy. Our presentation will provide an overview of the motivation for this work, an introduction to our user groups, a summary of the research outcomes of this work to date, and an outline of future work.


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