WELL done and well liked: online information literacy skills and learner impressions of the web as a resource for foreign language learning

a1 Faculty of Education and Language Studies, The Open University, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes MK7 6AA, UK


One of the most common uses of the World Wide Web for foreign language learning is as a resource for students to find information when researching essay topics. When language instructors ask students to perform searches for information about a given issue it is assumed that students know how to perform those searches and appreciate the usefulness of the Web. However, we do not really know much about the relationship between learners and the Web: what processes are involved, how the students go about the search process and what their perceptions of the Web are. It is therefore essential that these assumptions are examined and researched. To find out more about these questions, a study was initiated with the aim of obtaining information on how foreign language higher education students interact with the Web in general and in the context of a search for content/reading tasks in particular. The goal was to produce a descriptive snapshot of student impressions and abilities at one given moment. For this purpose 198 students of Spanish at the University of Southampton were asked how they use the Web, what for, how they go about finding the information they need, what they perceive to be the advantages and disadvantages of using the Web as a research tool for language learning, to compare it to other resources and what their perceptions of it are. To measure their degree of online information literacy, a scale was created. In this paper the details of the project will be presented, and the findings of the study discussed.