Innovation in Language Learning

Edition 11

Accepted Abstracts

Exploring Engagement In Informal Second Language Learning Among Secondary School Students In Germany

Henriette L. Arndt, University of Oxford, Department of Education (United Kingdom)


The ways in which we learn foreign languages have changed substantially over the past decades. With the rapid development and spread of new technologies, we now have more opportunities than ever before to engage with any language we like in a myriad of ways. Informal Second Language (ISL) Learning refers to independent second language acquisition through engagement with a variety of digital resources ­­– such as online video, music, and social networks – which are not specifically designed for learning. Previous studies have shown that such practices are particularly widespread among learners of English as a second language of various backgrounds and ages. Some evidence for a positive correlation between such practices and second language proficiency has been found, although there are still some doubts about the directionality of this relationship. Considerable individual differences and some group differences (e.g. relating to gender, motivation, and attitudes) have also been recorded with regard to both ISL practices and learning outcomes.

            This paper introduces a mixed methods study of informal second language practices among secondary school students in Germany. The study draws on the concept of student engagement (comprising behavioural, cognitive, affective, and social aspects) to describe the nature of these students’ ISL practices, and to explore the relationships between these practices, the learners’ motivation, and language proficiency. Findings will be presented from the first stage of the project, which involved the collection of qualitative data through focus group interviews intended to elicit details about, and highlight the most relevant aspects of, the respondents’ ISL practices. This qualitative data will inform the development of a survey for large-scale data collection at a later stage in the project, and subsequent statistical modelling of the relationship between engagement, motivation, and attitudes in informal second language learning.



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