The Trojan Horse Tamed! Arab Learner Motivation and Vocabulary Gains

Conference: The European Conference on Education (ECE2020)
Title: The Trojan Horse Tamed! Arab Learner Motivation and Vocabulary Gains
Stream: Educational Research, Development & Publishing
Presentation Type: Live-Stream Presentation
Saima Nomaan, Al Ain Men's College, United Arab Emirates


Research establishes that using digital linguistic resources/learning environments to enhance students’ learning experience positively affects their motivation and subsequent educational achievement (Moran et. al., 2008; Lu, 2008; Shohel & Power, 2010; Zhang et al., 2011; Lin and Nzai, 2014; Deng and Trainin, 2015; Alvarado et al., 2016; Dizon, 2016; Berns et al., 2016 and Vasbieva, 2016). Therefore, various instructional technological interventions are utilised to engage and motivate struggling learners, to enhance their linguistic performance and improve their metacognitive skills (Henry et al., 2012). Although English-rich environment provides excellent opportunities for Arab learners to develop their competence in English language, the reality of the classroom demonstrates several issues concerning teaching/learning and motivation. Despite English as a means of communication locally, numerous Arab students are “struggling readers [and] struggling writers” (Tomkins, 2011). This small-scale extended study broadly aimed at addressing the vocabulary and motivation crisis (Engin & McKeown, 2017) at tertiary-level EFL learners in the UAE and explores the extent to which digital tools enhance their motivation and vocabulary achievement. Following the Positivistic foundationalist paradigmatic traditions and a quasi-experimental quantitative approach, the study utilised the pre/post-tests, formative-assessment and class-observations for investigation. Learner groups were allocated the tasks of creating vocabulary quizzes using digital applications and present/teach their peers over an academic term. Five standardised state exams’ results were compared, and remarkable improvement was found in learner vocabulary gains and motivation. This goal-oriented activity utilising learner collaboration and language use resulted in superior learning, augmented learner autonomy and enhanced learner motivation and empowerment.