Designing for Language Learning: Agency and languaging in hybrid environments

Françoise Blin, Juha Jalkanen

agency, learning to design, designing for learning, teacher education


Since the beginning of the 21st Century, we have witnessed a remarkable shift in the ways learning takes place across networks, multiple sites and timescales. As the world changes, language teaching is facing growing pressures to rethink and redesign language learning environments to respond to the demands of the ‘knowledge society’. While new digitally enhanced learning spaces offer new affordances to language teachers and learners, they also increase the complexity of language teaching and learning. Furthermore, it has become evident that the affordances of new tools and spaces for learning are not always realised in formal education. Language teachers, who are willing to embrace new technologies and transform their teaching practice, need to reconceptualize their approach to language, language learning, and language teaching.

In this paper, we argue that a renewed focus on design is needed. Following a brief discussion on languaging and agency, we present three educational design models and approaches, namely learning design, designed based research and activity theoretical designs, which are being used to assist course designers and teachers with the design of technology-rich learning environments and activities. We argue that design models rooted in cultural historical activity theory (CHAT) in particular can help us address the challenges briefly outlined above. Drawing on CHAT principles and their applications to design for language teaching and learning, we revisit the design of a Finnish literacy skills course offered to international students at the University of Jyväskylä (Jalkanen & Vaarala 2012a, 2012b, 2013) and its enactment, with a particular focus on the development agency and languaging episodes.

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Apples - Journal of Applied Language Studies