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Glen Cochrane

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ePortfolios and Language Learning: Theory, Development and Use

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Learning a language is a long-term endeavor; one that can be frustrating for students since the development of language skill is not always visible on a daily basis. ePortfolios are a natural fit for language learning programs, offering educators in the field of language learning a powerful way to communicate and to monitor student learning. The asynchronous, distributed qualities of ePortfolios enable educators to guide and provide feedback for students within the flow of student-teacher and student-student interaction, increasing the amount of authentic language feedback that the learner experiences. ePortfolios also provide learners with the ability to assess accomplishments and learning goals autonomously in whole or in part, and within the authentic language environment. At the meta-level, ePortfolios can aid the development of multi-literacy and digital skills in language learners and newcomers to English speaking cultures. The Electronic Collaborative Language Portfolio Assessment (eCLPA) was designed in Manitoba, Canada especially for language learners, either soon to be arriving or new to Canada. Developed in reaction to provincial and federal policy, the eCLPA was created with an awareness of theoretical frameworks and pedagogy for language learning, adult education, and eLearning. Implemented by English Online Inc. (a provincially and federally funded Not-for-Profit Organization (NPO) with great success, the eCLPA serves the Manitoba Nurses’ Union and the University of Winnipeg, among other groups. In this paper, first the theory behind portfolios and ePortfolios will be explored, along with how these theoretical concepts fit in with the field of language learning. Next, the development and use of the eCLPA is described with respect to three major shaping forces. And finally, some future considerations for the eCLPA are discussed.

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