Innovation in Language Learning

Edition 17

Accepted Abstracts

A Digital Storytelling Laboratory to Foster Second Language Acquisition in Higher Education: Students’ Perspectives and Reflections

Annalisa Raffone, “L’Orientale” University of Naples (Italy)

Johanna Monti, “L’Orientale” University of Naples (Italy)


Today’s technology-suffused society is inevitably changing and transforming the learning process as the role of technology in our lives is progressively increasing, thus making 21st Century teachers and educators face the challenge of both learning and understanding how to best integrate technology into the classroom and equipping students with the skills necessary to live and work in our digitized world. These skills, described by the Framework for 21st Century Learning[2] are especially critical thinking, learning motivation, information literacy, media literacy, and language competence, considered as key competences for lifelong learning.
In particular, as the Council Recommendation on a comprehensive approach to the teaching and learning of languages[1] has recently stated, nowadays the lack of language competences represents a barrier in increasing productivity and collaboration across borders. As a consequence, to attain contemporary educational objectives, second language pedagogy needs to be integrated by the use of today’s digital tools that should not be considered as replacement of the traditional teaching method but as powerful, active support in fostering Second Language Acquisition (SLA).
Specifically, Digital Storytelling (DST) is progressively emerging as an innovative instructional tool[3] to enhance SLA together with students’ motivation, collaboration, reflection, and academic achievement. In fact, by combining traditional storytelling with digital multimedia, DST perfectly embodies the constructionist idea of learning by making, thus making students active participants in their learning process instead of passive agents as in face-to-face learning. Although various researches describe the use of DST in primary and secondary language education, to the best of our knowledge, very few studies have been conducted on the use of Digital Storytelling in Higher Education, especially in Italy where DST is a major innovation. As a consequence, a Digital Storytelling Laboratory has been enacted at “L’Orientale” University of Naples starting March 2019. It was addressed to 24 Bachelor’s students in the second year of their course in English Language and Linguistics. Firstly the students have been introduced in the field − almost completely new to them − and then involved in a Digital Storytelling Process that required the assimilation and completion of goal-oriented tasks, finally resulting in the production of a series of Digital Stories.
This paper aims at exploring the impact of DST on the academic development, learning motivation and collaboration of University students learning English as a second language. To that end, quantitative data were collected describing students’ perspectives and reflections about the effectiveness of DST in learning.

Keywords: Digital Storytelling, Second Language Acquisition, English as a Second Language, Multi-word Expressions, Innovative Learning Environments, Higher Education.

[1] (2019). Proposal for a COUNCIL RECOMMENDATION on a comprehensive approach to the teaching and learning of languages. [online] From
[2] The Partnership for 21st Century Learning - “P21’s Framework” (2015). From
[3] Wang, S., Zhan, H. (2010). Enhancing Teaching and Learning with Digital Storytelling. In International Journal of Information and Communication Technology Education 6(2), (pp. 76-87).

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