Foreign Language Learning in the Digital Wilds

A Qualitative Research Synthesis


  • Gilbert Dizon Himeji Dokkyo University



digital wilds, informal language learning, foreign language learning, qualitative research synthesis, computer-assisted language learning


CALICO Best Article 2023

While primary studies on technology-mediated informal foreign language (FL) learning are increasingly popular, research synthesis on self-directed FL learning in incidental, out-of-class contexts are scarce. Therefore, this article seeks to address this gap in the literature through a qualitative research synthesis (QRS) on language learning in the digital wilds; that is, digitally mediated FL learning in which the main goal of the activity is not related to language learning. The QRS involved a search of the Scopus and Web of Science databases for relevant literature between 2010 and 2021. Thirteen studies aligned with the inclusion criteria, and data from these studies were extracted for thematic analysis. Five themes were identified according to the analysis: diversity in digital practices; development of FL vocabulary; exposure to authentic language; opportunities for interaction and collaboration; and difficulty understanding FL input. These themes were analyzed using a framework by Reinders and Hubbard (2013), in order to understand the affordances and constraints of the digital wilds. Five affordances and two constraints were identified, which have implications for learner autonomy in computer-assisted language learning (CALL).

Author Biography

  • Gilbert Dizon, Himeji Dokkyo University

    Gilbert Dizon is an Associate Professor at Himeji Dokkyo University, Japan, and a doctoral candidate in the Department of Literacy, Culture, and Language Education at Indiana University. His research interests lie in computer-assisted language learning, specifically, technology-mediated informal language learning and the use of artificial intelligence in language education.


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How to Cite

Dizon, G. (2023). Foreign Language Learning in the Digital Wilds: A Qualitative Research Synthesis. CALICO Journal, 40(2), 238-256.