Marie-Josée Hamel


This OLBI research Chair in New technologies and Computer Assisted Language Learning(CALL) celebrates 20 years of research focusing on designing and developing ergonomic CALL resources for advanced learners of French. My approach to educational ergonomics has always been both theory-driven (top-down, conceptual) and learner-centered (bottom-up, empirical). Very early on (in the mid-90s), I have tried to be innovative in terms of exploiting ‘new’ technologies, such as natural language processing tools (sentence analyser, speech synthesiser) and more recently, usability tools (video-screen capturer) for language learning purposes, banking on their affordances to facilitate, enhance the language production process. My aim is to develop skills of ‘language professionals’ (des compétences de langagiers) for the advanced learners. This, in large part, involves increasing their in-depth (paradigmatic and syntagmatic) lexical knowledge as well as teaching them how to use efficiently (and creatively) available online language resources (such as dictionaries, thesaurus, grammar checkers, translators, etc.) so to become autonomous L2 writers, communicators.

Profiles and portraits of advanced learners mediating with technologies

In this invited symposium, through the lenses of two on-going collaborative research projects, profiles and portraits of advanced learners mediating with technologies will be drawn.

Profiles – NICOLAS GUICHON, Université de Lyon 2
For the first project, I have invited my colleague, Nicolas Guichon, to present the results of an investigation into international students’ usage of technology. He conducted an exploratory study with international students at Master’s level at Lyon 2 University to determine what usage they have of technologies for social and academic purposes and whether there are overlaps between the two types of usage. Ten students from different countries participated in in-depth interviews and had to describe minutely what tools and applications they had used the day before the interview and for what usage. In sum, this research aims to understand what mediated practices are deployed by international students to learn, collaborate with their peers and develop their language skills. It should help determine whether the Learning Management System proposed at the university adequately addresses students’ needs and what human and technological accompaniment could be implemented to improve international students’ integration and academic success. 

Portraits –with JÉRÉMIE SÉROR, University of Ottawa & CHANTAL DION, Carleton University
In the second project, Writers in action!, my colleagues Jérémie Séror, Chantal Dion and myself are going to describe in terms of ‘observables’, the visible and audible traces of (metacognitive) strategies employed by language learners as they reviewed and reflected on writing processes linked to texts they had composed on a computer. These 'observables' are drawn from a corpus of screen-capture videos (n = 85) produced by advanced learners of French (n = 17) university L2 writing courses. We will examine the context and tasks which surrounded the creation of these videos and, based on a quantitative and qualitative parameter analysis, attempt to present dynamic portraits of effective and efficient L2 language writers. Conclusions will highlight the affordances of this technology as a way to help students gain conscious awareness of their actions and decisions when writing at the computer.

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