Chin-chi Chao & Yi-ning Chen
National Chengchi University, Taiwan
This study provides insight into language learning affordances associated with a ToastMasters (TM) club for autonomous college learners in Taiwan. Drawing on an ecological perspective (van Lier, 2004), it aims to understand how a particular TM club as part of the learner’s ecology for language learning affords opportunities and how members of various participation experiences perceive affordances around them and use the TM community as mediation for their emergent learning objectives while dealing, in each of their own ways, with the tensions and challenges associated with the community. The study found that TM offers multi-level and intertwined learning opportunities which are embedded in its functions of maintaining continuity, developing communication and leadership skills, as well as providing extended support systems. In fact, the experience of language learning, socializing activities, and service seem more intertwined than separated in the participants’ perception. All of these lead to a deeper understanding of agentive language learning in learning communities.
Key Words: ecological perspective, affordance, EFL learning community