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Learning English: The Impact of Native vs Non-Native Environment

Updated on November 26, 2019
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Rhylee Suyom has hopped in three different worlds: the academe, the corporate, and the media. He enjoys being with nature and his family.

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Learning English: The Impact of Native vs Non-Native Environment

Language is regarded as the binding aspect of people. It is used to communicate and express one’s thoughts. Using another language opens to myriad of resources, to access to education, to employment, and even communication with the English speakers (Cook, 2016). This appears to unlock the numerous possibilities that one can get from learning more than their current language as another world opens. English has been an important language as approximately one billion or more people use this language for speaking (Crystal cited by Crandall & Shin, 2014). English is seen to be an advantage to studying and employment.

Learning this language opens numerous opportunities to its speakers and users. According to Crandall & Shin (2014), as English is becoming a global language, it turns to be an advantage for both education and employment as transactions go beyond the countries and international conferences and business transactions are widespread already. English communication and language skills are important factors for individual and organization success at present specially during this time of globalization (Shantha, 2017). It can be the key to the access to the information that are available as mostly are written in English. According to Karimova (2016), many of the young people use English to socialize and to reach out to different people since English is currently a lingua franca. Even for the part-time online jobs, many jobs are done in English.

The consideration in the importance of learning is present already. There are many factors to consider in learning the language as early as high school. One of the considerations in learning the English as the second language is the environment factor. The learners’ experiences might be different in the native environment but that does not mean that non-native places cannot provide the meaningful learning experience that can assist them in learning English.

Language Learning and Teaching

Learning English as a second language can be challenging especially if the speaker has little to no background about the language. It will be more difficult if the speakers of the language are little that the learner would have minimal interaction and exposure to the language. This language can be learned informally but it would be better if there would be formal teaching and classroom-based activities to make the learning more effective. With that, Crandall & Shin (2014) recommended steps that can be applied to language teaching like using fun and engaging activities, engaging student in different interactions, accommodating the different intelligences and learning styles of the learners, making the learning process relevant to the learners and meaningful, introducing different cultures to learners, and using different teaching strategies.

English teachers are encouraged to build a conducive and comfortable learning environment for the language learners as to help them be motivated and participate (Crandal & Shin, 2014). It was also suggested to build classroom routines in English, use activities that are appropriate for their level, use activities that reflect real-life communication, employ activities to improve the accuracy and fluency, equipping the learners with negotiation strategies, provide classroom interaction open for opportunities to participate, and an active speaking environment without explicit error correction (Crandal & Shin, 2014). The language ego should be carefully handled as to encourage the learners to continue speaking in English. The motivation and the attitude towards learning the language is also important. Motivation and positive attitude are an influencing factor in learning the second language as this can make the learning process easier (Khan & Khan, 2016).

Native and Non-native Environment

For a language learner, the priority is to learn the second language effectively and efficiently. Others prefer immersing in other countries although other would opt to just study the language with the current environment they are in. This has been studied over time as the impact of learning the language from the native environment would have a significant different with the non-native environment. However, no study has proven which one yields a holistic better result over the other.

As a consideration, for the native language learned through the native speakers in a group where the leaner is born, there is the full interaction and immersion in the process which may be simulated in various means through the use classrooms (Mohammed Al-Anisi & Karunakaran, 2013). In the context of the second language learning, there is a significant different with the native and non-native speaking teachers as for the content and the communicative competence as the study of Arva & Medgyes implies (cited by Castello, 2015). The intensity of focus and the attention on the content may differ from these two types of English teachers. It has also been proved that classroom learning tends to be more syntactic and demands more effort and conscious learning wherein the students get a more formal instruction (Castello, 2015). The impact of learning the rules and the syntax is different with the classroom attack compared to the informal method. The classroom-based instruction will assure the coverage of the rules and the grammar of the English language which are necessary in the process of learning.

Environmentalist theories about learning claim that the organism’s experience or nurture are relevant in the development of its nature and overall innate capacity (Wang, 2009). Other students tend to go abroad specifically in the native environment to obtain the skills that they need while others just learn in their respective classrooms from non-native teachers. However, based on the study of Wang (2009), what was emphasized was the real communicative environment where the students will get the enough exposure to the target language that they wish to learn.

Another study investigated the effect of exposure of the learners to naturalistic L2 input on their vocabulary where in the study involved two groups of 6-year old Norwegian-speaking children were taught using the regular curriculum and were exposed to English within the classroom only. The paper showed that the group that learned English outside the classroom setting but still within the classroom performed better in terms of vocabulary compared to those who were only exposed to English within the classroom setting (Vulchanova et al., 2015). On the other hand, this study shows that after the classroom instruction, the learning became better with the exposure to the outside classroom setting.

In terms of learning other languages, based on the study of Abu-Rabia & Ilyan (2011), the accent of the learners who were immigrated to the native environment tend to have acquired the accent of the natives, but the exposure does not make any significant impact on this variable. It has been seen the accent turns out to be quite changed as the learners are immersed with speakers who are natives of English in the first place.

According to Abramova, Ananyina & Shishmolina (2013), learning English as non-native speakers can post a challenge as the context is on the ‘teacher-textbook-student’ paradigm, however, by coming up student-centered environment, the learning becomes effective. This does not mean that the lack of native environment can serve as hindrance from providing the best learning experience. By giving a student-centered approach, the learners can get the most out of the classroom experience without necessarily getting out of the country and spending money to study in English speaking countries.

English Language Learning and other Considerations

In the study of Rajprasit, Pratoomrat, & Wang (2015), their learners who are 130 Thai undergraduate students find it difficult to utilize their productive skills using English as they set unrealistic goals about learning the language. Their perception towards their English language proficiency was measured which then resulted to unmet goals as they had troubles in using the language. This study entitled “Perceptions and Problems of English Language and Communication Abilities: A Final Check on Thai Engineering Undergraduates” revealed how there could be a mismatch between the perception of their abilities and their actual performance as questionnaires and interview questions were given to the respondents. This already poses a challenge to the learners as the attitude becomes an impediment in the learning process given that they are not in native environments in the first place.

This has given an initial idea on the relationship of perception and performance which will also be correlated in this study. The entire methodology will serve as a guide to the researchers as well as the instruments used. This is helpful since the participants are also non-native speakers. Not all learners will have the resources to spend in travelling to other countries and to stay there just to learn the language.

Another study is “Teaching Speaking Skills in English Language using Classroom Activities in Secondary School Level in Eldoret Municipality, Kenya” by Benter Oseno Gudu. This study aimed to investigate on the classroom activities that teachers use to facilitate speaking inside the classroom. With the selected students and English teachers coming from Distrirct, Provincial, and National schools, they used questionnaires and they observed the learners during speaking activities as they used a mixed method. The study showed that various activities were used in the classroom, but oral drills were not fully utilized. The learners even code switched since they have low oral skills and teachers failed to use various classroom activities depriving the learners to use the language in context authentically (Gudu, 2015). The apparent use of code switching appears to be a disadvantage and a sign of low oral capacity for the language learners. With that, Gudu (2015) put forward that the with learners given the opportunity to use authentic language in context, and cultural background of the learners should also be considered in the use of the activity, and the teacher using a variety of language learning strategies, nothing can stop them from acquiring the second language.

These studies are relevant to the proposed study since it presents the advantage of using varieties of activities in language learning. Aside from this, the contextualization in teaching English and the need for allowing students to authentically use the language are necessitated.

Discussion

The importance of English in the global context is presented and how it can be an advantage is iterated. This only underpins how English language can be influential. Learning the language can be a key to the rest of the world and even for job opportunities that the language learners themselves can see the value of the language per se. Given the effect of the language, the learning process will already follow. From this point, different studies present the results of the researches done about learning English and other factors to consider as well as the impact of the environment in the language acquisition process.

Numerous researches have been done to unravel the language learning process and how things can be better for the second language learners specifically of the English language. The perception and the considerations in the language learning has been presented. Another major factor is the environment where the language learning took place. Studies show that learning the language used outside the classroom can give a significant impact to the language learning compared to those who learned inside the classroom. Aside from this, the formality of the instruction was also considered for the native and non-native speakers. With the growth of the number of English speakers, there are the non-native teachers who can teach the language. However, the discussion comes in with the quality. It has been claimed that there is a difference with the attack of teaching of the non-native with those who are native speakers. There are instances wherein the classroom instruction outside the native country is more syntactic compared to the learning process in the native environment which is more about exposure to the language. These are significant points which can help in looking into the impact of native and non-native environment as well as other considerations in learning English as a second language. Other factors have been considered but all these gear towards the improvement of the learning process in general.

Implications for Current Research

These can be helpful to the proposed title “Learning English: The Impact of Native vs. Non-Native Environment” since there is still so much to study and to explore about the process of learning English and connecting it to the environment. This may require immense effort since it needs the data from the immersed learner in the native environment as compared with that of those who are in classrooms teaching English in non-native environment. This consideration will shed some light as to whether travelling far to go to English-speaking countries is indeed effective or the instruction in classroom are already enough. Through these studies, the paper can also get to consider which among the factors of English Learning tends to be better or to increase upon being exposed to the native environment and which one produces the best speaker holistically.

Methodology

Research Design

This study intends to use a quantitative method of study which will be conduct in four weeks as the survey is floated among the non-native speakers of English in the High School Department. This will focus on the relationship of one variable to the other using the numbers from the extracted data (Babbie, 2016). The study will be a descriptive research as the impact of the native or non-native learning environment will be examined as well as its perceived effect on the language learning. The data will be gathered on the second week of the study and the merged questionnaires will be photocopied along with the researcher’ consent. The instruments to be used are already utilized in existing researches already to establish the validity of the data collection. The research questions intend to investigate the impact of the environment and the perception of the learners towards learning in native and non-native language environment. The first question will focus on the overall impact of the non-native language environment to the language learning. The opinion and perceived impact of the environment towards the language learning will be investigated. The second question will anchor on the perceptions of the learners on English and their non-native environment. The last question will be about their insights on learning English in general with respect to their experiences in the language learning environment.

To assure the validity of this study, the questionnaires used were adapted from published journal articles with the permission of the authors themselves. Emails will be sent to these researchers for their approval to be taken and their responses to be screenshot. After that, these will be tailor-fitted to address the context in the existing learning experience. The generalization of the findings will be worked on by making the paper open to the teachers and students for their reference and perusal.

Sampling Procedures

The sample of this study will include five non-native speakers of English from grade 7 to 12 using the purposive sampling. Sampling is important since it will determine the chosen members of the sample to represent the community or locality (Ritchi et al., 2003). Each of the class from where the participants will be taken will be given 20-30 minutes to answer the survey questionnaire excluding the time for explaining what the purpose of the survey is and the completing of the consent form. The establish the credibility of the research, the conduct of the study will be horizontally and vertically diverse as it goes across year levels and across various classes. This will assure that the results will not be biased since multiple year levels were engaged.

The researcher will draft a letter addressed to the school head first and will then proceed to the explanation of the intention for the conduct of the survey. The proper procedure should be followed in the context of conducting the survey as to avoid conflicts and misunderstanding. Upon getting the approval, the researcher will communicate with the grade level coordinators and the English teachers for them to be informed about the survey. After finalizing the schedule for the survey, the researcher can now float the survey among the learners which will take about two to three days.

Participants

The study intends to investigate the impact of the learning experience of the learners in native and non-native environment. The respondents will include those who received instruction from their native origins or countries and then were instructed in United States already, and those who already learned English in the country. These would be the major groups in the process of collecting and analyzing the data. The respondents will primarily be migrants of the country who might have learned their English in their respective countries from Grade 7 to Grade 12. Thirty respondents which will comprise of five learners per grade level from different classes.

Special consideration will be given to those whose performance in English are either low or high. By considering such, the necessary interventions can be done to facilitate the learning process. Necessary adjustments to the learning experience can also be done based on the responses of the learners. The results can be used in improving the language learning experiences of the learners.

Finally, the respondents will not be forced to participate in the survey process if they do not wish to do so. The data collection involving the participation will only involve the answering of the questionnaire. Those who would opt to participate will only be the ones to answer the questionnaires and no coercion will transpire in the process of floating the survey.

Variables

This research will involve two major variables namely language learning and the learning environment. Educause (2019) defines learning environment as the umbrella term for learning resources and technology including the manner of teaching, the societal and global contexts, as well as the means of teaching. Language learning is the process of acquiring knowledge whether the native language or second language. These two variables will be the backbone of the entire study as the language learning will be examined especially if it is directly affected with the environment. The paper will depend on the responses of the participants on the survey and what relationship will the correlation process will present as results. The dependent variable in the study is the language learning while the independent is the learning environment. Although there would not be any experiment to be done, their prior experience will already be enough for them to give their response.

Data Collection and Analyses

All the research questions to be done will be answered through the merged questionnaires of Xiaoru’s “A Survey: Chinese College Students’ Perceptions of Non-Native English Teachers” with 13 items, and 16 items from the questionnaire of Nahar in their study “The Impact of Social Context in Students’ Second Language Learning”. These will be analyzed through MS Excel and SPSS as the Measures of Central Tendency will be identified and the Pearson-R for the correlation will be taken. Microsoft Excel will already be enough for the descriptive analysis since it can generate such data already. The mean, median, and the mode will be taken but the average and the descriptive statistics will be highly considered. As for the correlation, SPSS will be used as per the recommendation of the statistician. Aside from that, it will be determined if a significant relationship exists between the two variables. This will yield significant results in the context of language learning not only for English but for the rest of the languages in general. These are needed to make sense of the data collected from the high school non-native speakers of the English language.

Instrumentation

The adapted instruments involve the five-point scale assessing the perception and impact of the learning environment to their language learning. This is lifted from the study of Xiaoru as it intends to look into the learners’ thoughts about their native/non-native teachers. The teacher is considered since he/she will always be a part of the learning environment. Aside from this, the other part of the survey will also include two-choices response questionnaire. This will cover the social context of the language learning per se and how they see their native/non-native environment. These will be used for all the learners across all year levels. It intends to measure how the learners see native and non-native English Teachers. It will also present how the social context, or the environment can influence the language learning. These instruments need not to be validated as they were already used in existing researches of related content already. They will only be edited to make the statements more appropriate to the learners in general. In totality, the questions will be 29 questions of two parts. They will have to encircle their responses in the two-part survey which will be given to them to be answered within twenty to thirty minutes.

Student Response Form. A Microsoft Excel spreadsheet will be used to tally the responses, but the students will just have to answer on the given questionnaires after filling out the student profile section and the consent form which will be given to them. The forms that will be collected and the questionnaires will be handled with utmost confidentiality.


Ethical Behavior

This paper will undergo plagiarism scan to assure the proper citation and paraphrasing of another people’s work. This will consider the intellectual property rights of the original owner of the ideas that the researcher is using. Aside from this, it will also be given to the Institutional Review Board, school district, administration of the participating school and the concerned groups for their perusal and reference. This paper will not be completed for no reason and the results of the survey should be used for betterment of the instruction. The respondents may or may not indicate their names in the survey questionnaire for their anonymity. No personal data nor any form of identification will be done as to protect the identity of the respondent. As aforementioned, the students will not be forced to participate in the survey if they do not wish to do so. Aside from this, no matter what the result of the study will be, it will be presented to the community. Despite that, the names of the respondents will not be disclosed even to the highest authority as to assure the anonymity and the confidentiality of the files.

Timeline

In two weeks, the researcher will have to ask for the permission of the IRB, the school district, and the administration of the school. During this period, the preliminary activities will be done to facilitate the preparation for the conduct of the study. Another week will be allotted for the coordination with the teachers and coordinators for the arrangement of the schedule and the explanation of the goal of the research. The researcher cannot simply barge in classes and just disturb teachers and students for the researcher. The specific time for the floating of the survey questionnaire will be indicated for the smooth flow of the data collection process.

Two weeks will be allotted for the conduct of the survey questionnaire which will involve giving it out to participants from Grade 7 to 12. The researchers will have to explain the rationale of the paper and will seek allot for a few minutes in discussing the participation of the learners. It is a must that they understand the point in participating in the survey and why they were chosen. Another two weeks will be allotted to the tallying of the results and the coding and analysis of data. The responses will be collected and will be processed using Excel and SPSS as to get the necessary interpretation of the data from these respondents. After completing the tables and the interpretation, the findings can already answer the research questions. The researcher will then come up with the results and discussion part to be shared to the participating school and with the colleagues. This can be presented for the benefit of the stakeholders.

Proposed Limitations for Study

The study will only involve 30 participants who are particularly migrants and are English speakers. Other languages learned will not be considered as the focus of this study is merely the English language. Quantitative data will be extracted from the responses and the results will only cover the impact of the native or non-native environment in their English language learning. It will only cover the English language and will not consider their functions and perception about it. Aside from this, the study will only cover the social context and the teachers in general but will not consider the rest of the factors anymore since it is not part of the coverage of the paper.

Recommendations for Teaching Practice

This paper projects that the learning environment may play an immense factor in dealing with the learning of the second language learners. First, how the learners consider their teachers and the environment are pivotal in the learning process. It is a must that they regard their teachers with confidence and that they are comfortable with the environment wherever they are learning the language. According to Nahar (2015), the environment has an important impact in the language learning. This supports the concept that the learning environment is pivotal. Second, the competence of the teacher varies from one to another. One may not conclude that the native teacher would be better than the non-native teacher or vice versa. It will still be about the desire of the teacher to extend their expertise and how they can make their students learn. If it were for the accents, unquestionably, the native speakers will be the best to consider since they possess the natural accent. However, the accent will not be the sole basis for competence. Lastly, no matter who is teaching, it is a must that a variety of learning materials are used in the process of teaching as to facilitate effective learning experiences.

Implications for Future Research

This proposed paper will investigate the impact of the native or non-native learning environment to the English language learning of the migrant students. There have been several researches done about this topic but looking into this aspect will be helpful in determining the best for the students in the school. This study includes respondents across year levels. It focused on migrants on the high school level.

In the future, the researchers may consider doing a mixed method study where the teachers and parents will be involved in the data gathering. Aside from this, other aspects of language learning can be considered in the study. Observation and interview may be done to complete the triangulation to establish more insights and more implications in the language learning.

Aside from this, the learners may also consider studying the impact of learning other languages as well since this may also be helpful to facilitate and intensify the language learning process. The usual foreign language learned are to be considered and may be used as English is not solely the language existing in the globe learned by several students. This may be helpful for the other languages and the foreign languages department so they may provide the necessary environment that will facilitate better and faster learning process just like how English language is focused on and studied.

References

Babbie, E. R. (2016). The practice of social research. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

EDUCAUSE. (n.d.). Retrieved February 15, 2019, from https://library.educause.edu/topics/teaching-and-learning/learning-environments

Nahar, K. (2015). The Impact of Social Context in Students’ Second Language Learning. Dhaka: BRAC University.

Ritchie, J., Lewis, J., & Elam, G. (2003). Designing and selecting samples. In J. Ritchie & J. Lewis (Eds.), Qualitative research practice: A guide for social science students and researchers (pp. 77–108). Book Section, London: Sage.

Xiaoru, C. (2008). A Survey: Chinese College Students’ Perceptions of Non-native English Teachers. CELEA Journal. Guangdong: Guangdong University of Technology.

Abramova, I., Ananyina, A., & Shishmolina, E. (2013). Challenges in Teaching Russian Students to Speak English. American Journal of Educational Research. Vol. 1, No.3.

Abu-Rabia, S. & Iliyan, S. (2011). Factors Affecting Accent Acquisition: The Case of Russian Immigrants in Israel. The Reading Matrix. Vol. 11, No.2.

Castello, D. (2015). First Language Acquisition and Classroom Language Learning Similarities and Differences. United Kingdom: University of Birmingham.

Cook, V. (2016). Second Language Learning and Language Teaching Fifth Edition. New York: Routledge Taylor and Francis Group.

Crandall, J. & Shin J.K. (2014). Teaching Young Learners English: From Theory to Practice. United Kingdom: Heinle Cengage Learning.

Gudu, B. (2015). Teaching Speaking Skills in English Language using Classroom Activities in Secondary School Level in Eldoret Municipality Kenya. Journal of Education and Practice. Vol.6, No.35.

Karimova, Valida. (2016). The English Language for Global Communication: Perspective of Youth. Khazar-News \ Khazar-Review, Popular Science, literary-publicist bulk\ monthly publication. 348. 70-73.

Khan, T.J. and Khan, N. (2016) Obstacles in Learning English as a Second Language among Intermediate Students of Districts Mianwali and Bhakkar, Pakistan. Open Journal of Social Sciences, 4, 154-162.

Mohammed Al-Anisi, M. H., and Karunakaran, T. (2013). Second Language Acquisition: Issues and Implications. International Journal of English and Education, 2(2), 174-182.

Pliatsikas, C. and Chondrogianni, V. (2015) Editorial: learning a nonnative language in a naturalistic environment: insights from behavioral and neuroimaging research. Frontiers in Psychology, 6. 1009. ISSN 16641078 doi: https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01009 Available at http://centaur.reading.ac.uk/42142/

Pratoomrat, P., Rajprasit, K., & Wang, T. (2015). Perceptions and Problems of English Language and Communication Abilities: A Final Check on Thai Engineering Undergraduates. Canadian Center of Science and Education. Bangkok: Srinakharinwirot University.

Shantha, S. (2017). The Role of Oral Communicative Tasks (OCT) in Developing the Spoken Proficiency of Engineering Students. Advances in Language and Literary Studies. Australia: Australian International Academic Centre.

Vulchanova, M., Aurstad, L. M. G., Kvitnes, I. E. N., and Eshuis, H. (2015). As naturalistic as it gets: subtitles in the English classroom in Norway. Front. Psychol. 5:1510. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01510

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