Innovation in Language Learning

Edition 15

Accepted Abstracts

Contested e-literacies in Dutch as a Second language: Exploring the Interface between Policy and ICT Practice

Massimiliano Spotti, Tilburg University (The Netherlands)

Jeanne Kurvers, StudiesnTilburg University (The Netherlands)


Building on an overview of the history of civic integration policy in the Netherlands, we show how during the last decennia the Dutch integration policy has changed from fairly foreigner-friendly into a policy that, in our view, seems designed to discourage low-educated people to immigrate to the Netherlands and otherwise leave the liability for second language learning and integration to the newly arrived migrant himself.

Parallel to the development of a stricter integration policy, we see an exponential growth of ICT in the Dutch as a second language sector. While ICT used to be a means for learning support in second language classrooms, it seems to become a key factor for the student to manage his own learning and integration. This stress laid on ICT, though, impinges upon (low-educated) migrants as a new obstacle where it is the being literate in the means through which one has to learn Dutch that matters.

To back this claim, our contribution looks at three ICT applications and at how they get picked up – or else – by learners. The first application - widespread across integration courses - has set the first steps toward digital learning for Dutch as an L2. The second application is an innovative approach to integration through blended learning and contextualized second language learning. The third is representative of an emerging trend – that of adaptive learning – and had not yet been widespread across integration classes.

The contribution concludes by reflecting on the implications that ICT has for newly arrived migrants, also in the context of changing integration policies. It denounces that the transformational power of ICT is institutionally adopted in integration classes in that it serves the purpose of becoming a fast track for learners but also largely restricted in use by the legal requirements to pass exams (drills). The diversity of migrants’ own learning development requires diversity in and reflection on ‘self-teaching devices’ in policy and in ICT-applications. 

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