Case Study 1: individual independent learning

This case study involves a single participant, who has for the purposes of this discussion been given a pseudonym, Hiroshi. In this learning task, Hiroshi was asked to create an independent language-learning plan (see Appendix B.l) that he could use by himself to improve his second language learning. This task was embedded into a course of study Hiroshi and all other research participants were taking, so it was a real learning task for him.

He was given 90 minutes to complete this task and was provided with some prompts as the creation of an independent learning plan was an unfamiliar idea.

The learner and his ILE

Hiroshi was a Japanese third-year undergraduate university student. In Japanese universities, students begin job-hunting during their third year at university, in the hope of securing a position in their fourth and final year at university. This situation is reflected in Hiroshi’s choices for his learning plan and his concerns. During the task, he is thinking about studying for the Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC), an English language proficiency exam. This test is widely recognised and required by Japanese employers seeking employees with English proficiency. Test results give the student a score out of 999 points, and employers can base their level of English language proficiency requirements using this point scale.

The excerpts provided below are English translations of verbatim transcriptions from Hiroshi’s verbal protocol (vocalisation of thinking), and observations from the video recording are noted in italics (when an action occurred that was not verbalised). Hiroshi’s transcript is provided on the left, codes are in the middle column, and on the right are the researcher memos about Hiroshi’s thoughts and corresponding processing categories and/or pathways.

The gaps (or line spacing) in the transcripts that follow are not indicative of pauses, but are rather to allow the movement into a different form of processing to be clearly visible in written form (actually pauses are indicated with ..’).

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