Innovating Design Thinking and L1 Support in an Online English as a Foreign Language (EFL) Classroom

Conference: The Barcelona Conference on Education (BCE2022)
Title: Innovating Design Thinking and L1 Support in an Online English as a Foreign Language (EFL) Classroom
Stream: Teaching Experiences, Pedagogy, Practice & Praxis
Presentation Type: Live-Stream Presentation
Pravina Manoharan, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Malaysia
Sharilee Mun Yen, Avid Edu, Malaysia
Emily Choong, Niigata City Board of Education, Japan


Design thinking as an educational approach is a topic that has received significant attention over the last decade. However, its application in an EFL classroom with L1 support is scarce and has not been thoroughly explored. This research employed a case study design to determine the effectiveness of an English language teaching module developed to address the learning issues faced by EFL undergraduates in China. Prior to the class, an online survey was distributed to determine the type of topics that would interest the EFL learners. Teaching and learning were facilitated through both synchronous and asynchronous modes of delivery. The module included class lectures, bilingual-assisted breakout sessions, ongoing learning on a social media messaging platform, and additional resources uploaded to a cloud. The research employed a mixed-method approach that incorporated in-class observation, students’ feedback gathered through an online survey, and interviews with bilingual tutors to elicit information on the effectiveness of each topic, delivery and instructional strategies, and bilingual support provided. Findings revealed that the incorporation of design thinking in the development and teaching of the module, which focused on a student-centred approach, presented learners with opportunities to engage more actively with their peers, discover problems, find solutions, and communicate in a safe and non-judgemental environment. Additionally, bilingual breakout sessions yielded positive results as the use of L1 was an effective communicative strategy that broke down psychological barriers in the classroom, reduced learner anxiety and provided cognitive support which in turn facilitated learning.

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