Within the inter-related fields of linguistics, psychology and specifically language learning it has been recognized that language acquisition depends on several cognitive and environmental aspects. When giving instruction in a foreign language, it is also necessary to consider the language of origin already mastered by the learner, as well as the peculiarities of culture that may interfere with or otherwise have an impact on the manner in which a given language is learned (Collier, 1995).
In Singapore, innovations in language learning based on these criteria have already been made, but implementation has posed a challenge (Tucker & Corson, 1997). The true language expert has a deep understanding these barriers and must be prepared to come up with ideas that facilitate the change that drives the actual implementation of these innovative processes (Reza-Hernandez & Clifford, 2003; Garcia, 1994).
In Singapore, English has been acknowledged as the language of business and commerce, and therefore it has become crucial for greater strides to be made in passing on its knowledge to the citizens (Tucker & Corson, 1997). Singapore’s national university has instituted such innovations as the creation of computerized databases that hold “profiles of Singapore-based English” as a method improving the research and development in the area of English language teaching in the country (1997, p. 227).
This type of research appears to enable language instructors to understand the general areas of English that need more or better instruction. Other innovations directly affecting Singapore include the new dictionary of Southeast Asian English as well as numerous conferences that promote the improvement of the language. This research hopes to add further innovations, including in the area of technology, that would build on the projects already begun and further enhance the learning of the language in the country (Chapelle, 2003; Parker, 2007; Reza-Hernandez & Clifford, 2003; Klein et al. 2006).
Research Objectives The aim of this research is to find new approaches to teaching English that can be easily implemented in the Singaporean context. These will include new instructional methods, teaching aids, and the use of technologies as an integral aspect of imparting the language experience to those who learn. Research Question: How does collaborative learning, using the primary learners as mediators of the language, affect English language instruction in Singapore? Methods
The major theme of the implementation strategies will be the establishment of a community of English language learners using a core group of English language institute students as mediators of the language. The use of technology will enhance the project but not be the main focus. In community building, emphasis will be placed on building bridges between and among students of language-learning institution and other schools or groups within the community (Hones, 2000; Parker, 2007; Klein, et al. , 2006).
Technology will come into play as computers and the internet will provide the means of uniting persons separated by distance. It will also be used to engage the participation of native speakers of English from the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, and other English speaking countries of the world. Technology will also be used as a supplement to the activities performed in the language-learning setting (Kamhi-Stein, 2000). The study will therefore take the form of an action research in which the use of existing educational software, games, and activities in English are used within an integrative context.
This integrative context will involve the exposure of the language-learning institute students to activities with native speakers, which they will in turn pass on to a group of Singaporeans within a given community—perhaps children or youth group. The types of activities used will include the following • internet word-searches and studies • webquests (Teclahaimanot & Lamb, 2004) • on- and offline word-game applications such as Scrabble • watching and discussing movies in English • reading and discussing books in English
These will be done together with volunteers from English speaking countries who will be instructed to maintain constant dialogue with the institute student about the activities for the duration of the session. Group chats as well as one-on-one conversations will be used. Later the student will be expected to impart the knowledge gained from the session to members of the community. Activities will be monitored via reports and observation in order to provide the data for the research.