Language MOOCs in China: The Perspectives of Teachers and Learners


  • Jian-E Peng Shantou University


Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs), Language MOOCs (LMOOCs), reasons, features of good-quality LMOOCs, EFL contexts


Language Massive Online Open Courses (LMOOCs) have developed fast and attracted increasing research attention worldwide. However, little is known about the reasons that motivated instructors and learners to engage in LMOOCs and their perceptions of the features of good-quality LMOOCs in English as a foreign language (EFL) context. To address these gaps, this study used a questionnaire to elicit data from 51 instructors and 723 learners of LMOOCs in China. The results showed that many instructors and learners reported that their involvement in LMOOCs was largely related to departmental or university requirements. Many instructors endorsed intrinsic reasons such as keeping pace with the time and the new trend of teaching and providing learning resources to more people, while many learners admitted intrinsic reasons such as improving their English proficiency and acquiring more knowledge. This study identified three conspicuous aspects regarding the features of good-quality LMOOCs: instructors and course design, language assistance, and reinforcement and interaction activities. Implications for university administrators, designers, and instructors of LMOOCs are finally presented.


Bárcena, E., & Martín-Monje, E. (2014). Introduction. Language MOOCs: An emerging field. In E. Bárcena & E. Martín-Monje (Eds.), Language MOOCs: Providing learning, transcending boundaries (pp. 1–15). De Gruyter.

Bárcena, E., Read, T., Martín-Monje, E., & Castrillo, M. D. (2014). Analysing student participation in Foreign Language MOOCs: A case study. In U. Cress & C. D. Kloos (Eds.), Proceedings of the European MOOC Stakeholder Summit 2014 (pp. 11–17). Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne.

Bárkányi, Z. (2021). Motivation, self-efficacy beliefs, and speaking anxiety in language MOOCs. ReCALL, 33(2), 143–160.

Charmaz, K. (2006). Constructing grounded theory: A practical guide through qualitative analysis. Sage.

Chong, S. W., Khan, M. A., & Reinders, H. (2022). A critical review of design features of LMOOCs. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 1–21.

Deng, R., Benckendorff, P., & Gannaway, D. (2017). Understanding learning and teaching in MOOCs from the perspectives of students and instructors: A review of literature from 2014 to 2016. In K. C. Delgado, P. Jermann, P.-S. Mar, S. D. T., & S. White (Eds.), Digital education: Out to the world and back to the campus. EMOOCs 2017 (pp. 176–181). Springer.

Díez-Arcón, P., & Martín-Monje, E. (2022). The coming of age of LMOOC research. A systematic review (2019-21). Innovation in Language Learning and Teaching.

Ding, Y. (2019). What constitutes an effective instructional video: Perspectives from Chinese EFL learners. In B. Zou & T. Michael (Eds.), Recent developments in technology-enhanced and computer-assisted language learning (pp. 236–256). IGI Global.

Ding, Y., & Shen, H.-z. (2020). English language MOOCs in China: Learners’ perspectives. The EuroCALL Review, 28(2), 13–22.

Ding, Y., & Shen, H. (2022). Delving into learner autonomy in an EFL MOOC in China: A case study. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 35(3), 247–269.

Downes, S. (2012). Connectivism and connective knowledge: Essays on meaning and learning networks. Stephen Downes Web.

Field, A. (2009). Discovering statistics using SPSS (3rd ed.). Sage.

Fontana, M. V. L., & Leffa, V. J. (2018). MOOCs for language teaching: A study on CALL from the connectivist perspective. Alfa: Revista de Linguistica, 62(1), 73–86.

Fridriksdóttir, K. (2018). The impact of different modalities on student retention and overall engagement patterns in open online courses. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 31(1–2), 53–71.

Fridriksdóttir, K. (2021a). The effect of content-related and external factors on student retention in LMOOCs. ReCALL, 33(2), 128–142.

Fridriksdóttir, K. (2021b). The effect of tutor-specific and other motivational factors on student retention on Icelandic Online. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 34(5–6), 663–684.

Gimeno-Sanz, A. (2017). Designing a MOOC for learners of Spanish: Exploring learner usage and satisfaction. In K. Borthwick, L. Bradley, & S. Thouësny (Eds.), CALL in a climate of change: Adapting to turbulent global conditions – short papers from EUROCALL 2017 (pp. 122–127).

Hall, R. H., Watkins, S. E., & Eller, V. M. (2003). A model of web-based design for learning. In M. G. Moore & A. W. G. (Eds.), Handbook of distance education (pp. 367–375). Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Hew, K. F., & Cheung, W. S. (2014). Students’ and instructors’ use of massive open online courses (MOOCs): Motivations and challenges. Educational Research Review, 12, 45–58.

Hew, K. F., Qiao, C., & Tang, Y. (2018). Understanding student engagement in large-scale open online courses: A machine learning facilitated analysis of student’s reflections in 18 highly rated MOOCs. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 19(3), 69–93.

Hsu, L. (2022). EFL learners’ self-determination and acceptance of LMOOCs: The UTAUT model. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 1-29.

Hsu, R. L. (2021). A grounded theory exploration of Language Massive Open Online Courses (LMOOCs): Understanding students’ viewpoints. Sustainability, 13(5).

Jiang, Y., & Peng, J. (2023). Exploring the relationships between learners’ engagement, autonomy, and academic performance in an English language MOOC. Computer Assisted Language Learning.

Jiang, L., Zang, N., Zhou, N., & Cao, H. (2021). English teachers’ intention to use flipped teaching: interrelationships with needs satisfaction, motivation, self-efficacy, belief, and support. Computer Assisted Language Learning.

Kizilcec, R. F., & Schneider, E. (2015). Motivation as a lens to understand online learners: Toward data-driven design with the OLEI scale. AMC Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction, 22(2), 1–24.

Kolowich, S. (2013). The professors who make the MOOCs. Chronicle of Higher Education, 59(28), A20–A23.

Luo, R., & Ye, Z. (2021). What makes a good-quality language MOOC? An empirical study of criteria to evaluate the quality of online language courses from learners’ perspectives. ReCALL, 33(2), 177–192.

Mac Lochlainn, C., Nic Giolla Mhichíl, M., & Beirne, E. (2021). Clicking, but connecting? L2 learning engagement on an ab initio Irish language LMOOC. ReCALL, 33(2), 111–127.

Margaryan, A., Bianco, M., & Littlejohn, A. (2015). Instructional quality of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Computers & Education, 80, 77–83.

Martín-Monje, E., & Borthwick, K. (2021). Researching massive open online courses for language teaching and learning. ReCALL, 33(2), 107–110.

Martín-Monje, E., Castrillo, M. D., & Mañana-Rodríguez, J. (2018). Understanding online interaction in language MOOCs through learning analytics. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 31(3), 251–272.

Martín-Monje, E., Read, T., & Barcena, E. (2017). The importance of forum interaction and success rates in language MOOCs. In Proceedings of EMOOCs 2017: Work in Progress Papers of the Experience and Research Tracks and Position Papers of the Policy Track, 10–15.

Merrill, M. D. (2002). First principles of instruction. Educational Technology Research and Development, 50(3), 43–59.

Ministry of Education. (2017a). Guanyu gongbu shijie yiliu daxue he yiliu xueke jianshe gaoxiao ji jianshe xueke mingdan de tongzhi [Notice to release the lists of world-class universities and world-class disciplines to build in universities].

Ministry of Education of China. (2017b). Jiaoyubu bangongting guanyu gongbu 2017 nian guojia jingpin zaixian kaifang rending jieguo de tongzhi [Announcement of the General Office of the Ministry of Education on the accreditation results of 2017 National Quality Online Open Courses].

Mısır, H., Koç, D. K., & Koç, S. E. (2018). An analysis of learner autonomy and autonomous learning practices in Massive Open Online Language Courses. Arab World English Journal (AWEJ), Special Issue on CALL, (4), 24–39.

Mitchell, R., Myles, F., & Marsden, E. (2019). Second language learning theories (4th ed.). Routledge.

Motzo, A., & Proudfoot, A. (2017). MOOCs for language learning – opportunities and challenges: the case of the Open University Italian Beginners’ MOOCs. In K. Qian & S. Bax (Eds.), Beyond the language classroom: Researching MOOCs and other innovations (pp. 85–97).

Peng, J.-E., & Jiang, Y. (2022). Mining opinions on LMOOCs: Sentiment and content analyses of Chinese students’ comments in discussion forums. System, 109, Article 102879.

Sallam, M. H., Martín-Monje, E., & Li, Y. (2022). Research trends in language MOOC studies: a systematic review of the published literature (2012-2018). Computer Assisted Language Learning, 35(4), 764–791.

Teixeira, A. M., & Mota, J. (2014). A proposal for the methodological design of collaborative language MOOCs. In E. Bárcena & E. Martín-Monje (Eds.), Language MOOCs. Providing learning, transcending boundaries (pp. 34–47). De Gruyter.

Wang, X., Lee, Y., Lin, L., Mi, Y., & Yang, T. (2021). Analyzing instructional design quality and students' reviews of 18 courses out of the Class Central Top 20 MOOCs through systematic and sentiment analyses. The Internet and Higher Education, 50, Article 100810.

Watson, W. R., Watson, S. L., & Janakiraman, S. (2017). Instructional quality of massive open online courses: a review of attitudinal change MOOCs. International Journal of Learning Technology, 12(3), 219–240.

Wen, M., Yang, D., & Rosé, C. P. (2014). Sentiment analysis in MOOC discussion forums: What does it tell us? 7th international conference on educational data mining, London, UK.

Williams, K. M., Stafford, R. E., Corliss, S. B., & Reilly, E. D. (2018). Examining student characteristics, goals, and engagement in Massive Open Online Courses. Computers & Education, 126, 433–442.

Zeng, S., Zhang, J., Gao, M., Xu, K. M., & Zhang, J. (2022). Using learning analytics to understand collective attention in language MOOCs. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 35(7), 1594–1619. doi:10.1080/09588221.2020.1825094

Zhang, X. (2017). Researching into a MOOC embedded flipped classroom model for college English reading and writing course. In K. Qian & S. Bax (Eds.), Beyond the language classroom: Researching MOOCs and other innovations (pp. 15–27).

Additional Files



How to Cite

Peng, J.-E. “Language MOOCs in China: The Perspectives of Teachers and Learners”. Journal of New Horizon in Higher Education, vol. 1, no. 1, June 2023, pp. 1-18,