Self-Directed Digital Language Learning during the COVID-19 Pandemic School Closures
The study presented here aims to determine the ways in which adult bilingual English learners self-directed their study through use of digital language learning resources in March 2020 at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic when educational institutions were closed and mandatory quarantine precautions were in place. During this time, people were forced to isolate to contain the spread of the virus and adult English learners were left without two vital avenues of education: formal classroom instruction and socialization within the target language community. However, digital media provided an opportunity for learners to take charge of their education through a variety of resources employing practice of language skills. Data for this study was conducted using qualitative research methods in the form of semi-structured interviews featuring open-ended questions intended to engage participants in a discussion of their online habits conducted in English during the period of study. Following collection, data was coded into four categories based on the intersections of explicit/implicit and receptive/productive learning skills. Categories labeled 'explicit' were further sub-categorized to address the intention of the program in instructing English or the participant's stated intention to use it for such. It was revealed that participants engaged in a variety of self-directed language learning activities that included programs developed for independent language instruction, activities of their own design, and implicit language practice through leisure activities conducted in English. The study concluded with several interesting phenomena which demonstrated overlap in participants' uses of explicit and implicit learning, differentiation of output and communicative contexts, and the use of task-based input as a demonstration of successful comprehension.