Bilash, O., Cheng, I., Wong, V., Basu, A., and Bischof, W. F. (2012). Foreign language learning on mobile devices: implications for Alberta's teachers. Notos, 12, 25-40.
Students of second and international languages in Alberta do not receive sufficient hours of instruction through formal classroom time alone to achieve distinguished levels of proficiency (Archibald et al 2006). This research study uses a constructivist approach (Guba and Lincoln 1994; Twomey Fosnot 2005) to explore what is meant by proficiency and expertise in terms of language learning, by applying what has commonly become known as the 10,000-hour rule of expertise (Ericsson, Krampe and Tesch-Römer 1993; Ericsson, Prietula and Cokely 2007; Gladwell 2008). Alberta's French as a Second Language: Nine-Year Program of Studies (Grade 4 to 12) (Alberta Learning 2004) is considered as an example. This paper argues that dedicated, self-regulated informal learning is necessary to supplement classroom learning in order to achieve the 10,000 hours of dedicated practice necessary to develop high levels of proficiency or expertise, according to the definitions offered by American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) and the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). Recommendations are offered to help learners and parents understand the critical role of self-regulated, informal learning in achieving language proficiency. In the 2006 review commissioned by Alberta Education of the literature on second language learning, Archibald et al determined that students in Alberta who take second or international language classes in school are unlikely to develop the expert levels of proficiency and fluency that equate with functional bilingualism. They state that "learning a second language for 95 hours per year for six years will not lead to functional bilingualism and fluency in the second language. Expectations must be realistic" (Archibald et al 2006, 3). This raises the question of what it would take for Alberta students to become highly proficient in a second language. There is no clear or easy answer. This article explores Archibald et al's claim in more depth, offering examples and scenarios that are intended to offer insights into why this may be the case and what might be done to solve the problem. This article will also explore what is meant by proficiency and expertise with respect to language learning by applying what has commonly become known as the 10,000-hour rule of expertise. Further, the paper addresses the need to incorporate dedicated practice and self-regulated informal learning as critical components of language learning. Finally, directions for further research are offered. In addition, suggestions for teachers and administrators are proposed to help Alberta's students increase their chances of developing proficiency and fluency.
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