The Influence of Technology in Educating English Language Learners at-risk or with Disabilities: A Systematic Review

  • Yizhe Jiang PhD candidate at the Department of Teaching and Learning, The Ohio State University, USA
  • Qian Wang PhD candidate at the Department of Teaching and Learning, The Ohio State University, USA
  • Zhenjie Weng Language and Culture Center, Duke Kunshan University, China
Keywords: educational technology, English language learners, learning difficulties, students with disabilities


With the development of technology, the quantity and quality of electronic devices for students learning English as a second or foreign language (ESL/EFL) are on the rise, especially since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. To facilitate practices in English language education for students with special needs, the researchers conducted a systematic review of the empirical studies of technology tools for ESL/EFL students with learning difficulties published in the previous two decades. This paper presents the study selection process and findings of the review based on 16 peer-reviewed journal articles and one book chapter. The paper reveals the frequent mental and physical difficulties of English language learning and the typical technology tools employed in and out of class. More importantly, this paper discusses the roles of these technology tools in students’ English language acquisition, specifically their effects on student learning outcomes and the students’ perceptions toward them. With limited primary sources, this paper calls for more attention to the use of technology in English language learning of ESL/EFL students identified as at-risk and with learning disabilities and raises some implications for future research and instructional practices.


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