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Controversies in using technology in language teaching In his first article for TeachingEnglish, Pete Sharma considers some of the

controversies surrounding the use of technology in and out the classroom. 'Interactive whiteboards are great!' 'Interactive whiteboards are e !ensive!' There are many controversial issues in the area of technology"enhanced language teaching. This article e !lores some of these areas of disagreement# it concludes by revisiting four $ey %!rinci!les& which can hel! teachers incor!orating ICT 'information and communication technology( in their courses. Terminology )ne thing that I have noticed is how terms can have different definitions. *or e am!le, the !hrase %blended learning& means different things to different !eo!le. In language teaching, the classical definition is a combination of face"to"face classes 'same time, same !lace( and web"based training. +owever, this definition e cludes using C,"-)., since they are not delivered over the internet. /hat this means is that when teachers begin discussing conce!ts such as %blended learning& they soon discover they are arguing about com!letely different things! Even the term %f0f& can now be 1ualified as %f0f online& when used to describe teaching via tools li$e S$y!e. Connotation *or some !eo!le, the term 'blended learning' has a !ositive connotation2 343 is more than two. In other words, the best of the teacher !lus the best of the technology could result in !ositive learning outcomes. *or others, blended learning has a negative connotation2 it is the worst of both worlds. )n a blended course, the students who love the classroom do not contribute to the $nowledge"building on the forums. The students who s!end their time on"line hate crossing the busy city to attend the face"to"face lessons. The course ends u! !leasing no"one! So, when someone mentions the %virtual& classroom, what connotation does it have5 *or one !erson it&s e citing# for the ne t, it&s scary. 6sing technology for different areas of language study /hile technology has had a ma7or influence on the teaching and learning of languages, a lot of disagreement surrounds areas such as the teaching of grammar, vocabulary, language s$ills and testing. 8rammar The increase in the number of interactive e ercises on C,"-). and the web has undoubtedly benefitted the analytical learner. Students can !ractise 09:; and receive instant feedbac$. +owever, many teachers and material writers would argue that this $ind of !ractice is based on an outdated, stimulus"res!onse methodology. These grammar e ercises %s$ewer& the language, so on"line !ractice focuses on %cris!& areas of language at the e !ense of %fu<<y& areas. +ere&s a good e am!le of this distinction2

Cris!2 Is 'I went there'2 'a( Sim!le !ast5 'b( Present !erfect5 *u<<y2 /hat&s the difference between 'a( 'I did it' and 'b( 'I&ve done it'5 =ocabulary >rguments are currently raging about the use of electronic translators. These !rovide many benefits, allowing students to cross"chec$ between bi"lingual dictionaries and mono" lingual dictionaries, and encouraging them to review language. ?et, when used for !roduction, they seem to encourage the selection of the wrong word in English, and teachers can 1uite easily s!ot an essay written with the hel! of one of these small machines. They also inhibit fluency if students ta$e them out in discussion classes @ which they fre1uently do. S$ills In the area of the rece!tive s$ills, listening and reading, the effect of technology has been huge. The Internet has !rovided a vast range of material, offering many more o!!ortunities for e !osure to authentic materials, both audio and te t. >t the same time, much of this material is clearly unsuitable for language learners. The debate continues as to how useful ?ouTube is and to what e tent is technology %res!onsible& for the rise in !lagiarism in E>P 'English for academic !ur!oses(. The influence of technology on the !roductive s$ills of s!ea$ing and writing is, arguably, less. If you wish to im!rove fluency, many students would argue that nothing is better than a face"to"face language lesson, a discussion class with the teacher. Can the same be said about ta$ing a fluency class using S$y!e, a web"based !rogram such as Illuminate or a class in the virtual world, Second Aife5 /hat value does %=oice recognition& have5 /i$is enable students to com!ose an essay together at a distance, ma$ing them a suitable medium for collaborative writing. +owever, not all learners wish to learn from each other, and !refer only the teacher to correct their wor$, rather than a !eer. Testing There has been an e !losion of on"line testing in the last few years. Such test materials use the same formats as multimedia materials2 ga!"fill, multi!le choice etc. Is this a match made in heaven5 Some would argue that on"line tests actually favour students who use com!uters, and ignore the assessment of %affective factors& such as !ersonality and learner ty!e. The digital divide >lmost no other technology symbolises the %digital divide& as much as the interactive whiteboard 'I/B(. Those with access to this technology are currently e !loring how best to e !loit it in the classroom# detractors suggest it can be a way of going bac$ to %teacher"

centred& a!!roaches. In some !arts of the world, using such technology is a distant dream. The Cardiff )nline forum has hosted a !articularly lively debate on I/Bs. Theory vs !ractice This is a world which is driven by technology. The innovators innovate, and later, !edagogy !lays catch"u!, as teachers try things out. The world of theory 'of evidence and research( is, arguably, lagging behind what is ha!!ening in the classrooms. In other words, if you wait for a case study to 7ustify whether or not Twitter has value, you may be waiting a long time, and the technology will have moved on by the time the research has been done. I thin$ that there are many controversies in the use of ICT in the teaching and learning of languages. This article has 7ust touched on some of them @ there are many more2 ,o we acce!t te t"tal$ when we mar$ writing5 'cu lCter( +ow effective are language classes in Second Aife5 Can students learn using a mobile !hone5 In our boo$ %Blended Aearning&, my co"author and I discuss four $ey !rinci!les which can hel! teachers im!lement technology. These are2 Se!arate the role of the teacher It is im!ortant to understand the res!ective roles !layed by the teacher and the technology in the learning !rocess# the teacher could deal with the %fu<<y& areas mentioned above, for instance. Teach in a !rinci!led way /henever a new technology emerges 'such as, say, !odcasting(, it is im!ortant to go beyond the %wow& factor and thin$ about the !edagogical reasons for using it. 6se the technology to com!lement and enhance what the teacher does 'It&s not what it is, it&s what you do with it.' 'Dones 3ECF.( So it is not the interactive whiteboard !er se which could im!rove the learning e !erience, but how it is used. >s I listen to the various arguments about all these controversies, I fre1uently revisit these !rinci!les and still find them hel!ful in ascertaining my role. In the first !art of my time as 8uest /riter, it would be interesting to learn what !eo!le are doing, how they are using technology, and e !loring these issues further. So what technology related issues have you encountered in your classroom5