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NEW TECHNOLOGIES IN TEACHING ENGLISH AS A FOREIGN LANGUAGE

INTRODUCTION

The use of new technology has implied a change in teacher/learner


behaviours and attitudes. It has made teachers look at their teaching
styles and the way their students learn with different eyes. What
exactly is the impact this technology is having, then, on the way
English or other foreign languages are taught?

Learner autonomy

Learning is not a passive activity; students do not learn much by just sitting in
class listening to the teacher or by memorising rules for exam questions.
Rather, learning is an active process which very much involves the individual
learner. Learner autonomy has been an issue in ELT.

The concept of autonomous thinking in education was introduced by Dickinson


(1987) and has been developed in the field of foreign language learning by the
European Council and by the work of Holec (1980) and Oskarsson (1988).
Wenden (1987) has recognised learner autonomy as an important "pedagogical
goal".

Holec (1988), in his prologue to a publication from the Council of Europe,


Autonomy and self-directed learning. Present fields of application, distinguished
three interpretations for the concept of "autonomy":

a. The autonomous learner is "independent" from the teacher, and works


with a series of materials which are used as support material. The
implications of this view is that the learner cannot decide on the
objectives, contents or methodology of the course and the teacher has
been substituted by the materials.
b. The learner is "responsible for his own learning" individually or
together with other learners (or with the teacher). In this case, the
learning process is organised according to the learners' needs and
interests, as the course content is negotiated with the teacher first.
c. The learner shows his "capability to learn", in other words, s/he shows
her/his abilities and inner skills. This interpretation does not refer to a
style of learning but to a characteristic of the learner.

Teachers' roles

Let us turn from a general consideration of learner autonomy in the language


classroom to a more specific look at the role of the teacher in the multimedia
classroom. In a learning environment where multimedia CD-ROMs or resources
from the WWW are used in the classroom, the role of the teacher changes
considerably and becomes of vital importance.
The new role of the foreign language teacher is to promote and develop
autonomous learning in the classroom by facilitating, helping, counselling,
coordinating, proposing ideas, guiding, and fostering communication.
Depending on the activity and the final goal, the teacher will need to be a
facilitator, or a leader, or will provide particular attention to those students who
need it most.

Students' roles

As we have seen, the student using a CD-ROM or the Net has the opportunity
of becoming involved in active, collaborative and constructive learning
experiences, and the computer becomes a conduit that facilitates access to a
wide range of resources. We will examine each of these types of learning
below.

Active learning

However, students should not become 'consumers' of learning materials; rather,


they should be able to take responsibility for their own learning, something that
used to be the teacher's responsibility. Active learning then involves mindful
processing of information, and responsibility on the learner's part for the results
of that learning. The language learner should be encouraged to take decisions,
plan his/her own studies, and assess him/herself. In other words, the learner
should monitor his/her own performance, contrasting his/her output with what
has been learnt and considering the impact on the interlocutor.

The language learner's role as an experimenter and researcher in the


classroom should not be underestimated: actively and often consciously
exploring language and communication should constitute an important activity
in the language classroom.
(Ruschoff 1992:9)

The extent to which a learner will acquire the above skills depends on his/her
ability to manage time, cope with stress and other negative factors that may
interfere with learning. Finally, learners also need to be self-motivated and self
disciplined.

Aim of the Subject


Twenty five years ago there were no personal computers. Nowadays, however, in
countries like the USA or Japan, where programmes for educational computing were
promoted in the mid-80s, computer literacy is recognised as a fundamental skill in an
increasing information-oriented society. Almost 30% of households in these countries
own a PC, and most students use computers at school.

However, there is still a big contrast between those primary and secondary schools that
lack the necessary equipment and the minimum conditions for implementing CALL in
their curricula, and other schools that have already developed joint projects with schools
in Europe or elsewhere in the world by means of the Internet. This contrast exists both
on a national and an international level.

Technology is the state of the art in English language teaching, and well-informed
language teachers are continuously searching for information related to
instructional/teaching possibilities and resource materials in this realm. The use of
technology often seems to relate fortuitously to contemporary pedagogical theory. For
instance, the popularity of the audiolingual method and the emphasis on the oral
component of language have led to a teaching practice in which most language teachers
make extensive use of tape recorders for listening activities in the classroom. Likewise,
computers first started to gain importance as an "excellent aid to self-access language
work" (Sheerin 1989:14) and for this reason they were soon incorporated in language
labs in many educational centres.

However, it is often the case that teachers need technical and practical training in order
to incorporate and exploit the potential of computers in the foreign language classroom.
Some teachers still think that they should become skilled in using computers before they
integrate them in their lessons.

The aim of this subject is to demystify the use of computers in the language classroom
and to make you aware that it is not a matter of teaching your students to use computers,
but rather of using computers to teach your students.

This subject is designed to introduce you in the use of computers in teaching and
learning English as a Foreign Language. There are several acronyms that have been
coined to refer to this field:

CALL: Computer Assisted Language Learning


CAI: Computer Assisted Instruction
CMC: Computer Mediated Communication
CMI: Computer Managed Instruction
CEI: Computer Enriched Instruction
TELL: Technologically Enhanced Language Learning

The first acronym could be said to be more student-centred and more focused on
'learning', and the second more teacher oriented. TELL is the latest of the acronyms, and
was coined to include reference not only to computers themselves, but also to
multimedia and the Internet. However, the aims behind these terms are exactly the same
and therefore we will stick to CALL as it is the most traditional term of the three. For
your information, in Spanish, the term most commonly used has been ELAO -
Enseñanza de Lenguas Asistida por Ordenador.

The subject will give you some information on technological aspects, but the main
focus will be on ways in which CD-ROMs and, more extensively nowadays, the
Internet influence foreign language teaching, that is, the ways in which the PC and
related equipment can support and enhance our pedagogical practices and foster
language learning.
Educational Technology

Introduction

The use of technology for educational purposes started in the 1940s in the
United States. The first specific references to technology in language teaching
are seen in the courses delivered during the 2nd World War which were
designed for the army, and incorporated audiovisual support. The first time that
new technology was part of a university curriculum was in 1946, when the
University of Indiana offered a course on Audiovisual Education.

The following summary shows the influence of information media in the field of
language training during the last five decades. Notice that CALL technology has
only been developed over the last 30 years.

Period Technology used for Instruction

1940s & 50s Audiovisual Media: Overhead Protector (OHP) and tapes

1960s Mass Media: Radio and Television

1970s Computers and Video

1980s Multimedia Pcs, CDs, Interactive Video

1990s WEB, Internet tools, Satellite television

This unit provides a brief overview of early CALL, introducing you to the first
examples of educational software for language learning, and the development
this has gone through to modern day CALL.

In his introduction to Computer Assisted Language Learning, M. Warschauer


(1996) distinguishes three phases of CALL: behaviouristic CALL,
communicative CALL and integrative CALL. These phases are not totally
separate from one another; on the contrary, all innovations in the field of CALL
have been introduced slowly, and there is plenty of overlap between the
phases.

Behaviouristic CALL

The first phase of CALL, conceived in the 1950s and implemented in the 1960s
and '70s, was influenced by the dominant behaviourist theories of learning of
that time. As you will recall, language learning activities were based mainly on
repetitive drills.
During this period the computer was seen as a tutor and it was conceived as
the vehicle through which to administer instructional materials to the student.
The rationale behind drill and practice exercises is as follows:

• Repeated exposure to the same material was regarded as beneficial or


even essential to learning.
• The computer was an ideal environment for carrying out drills, since it
can present the same materials without getting bored and it can provide
immediate feedback without judging the results.
• The material can be adapted to the individual needs of the learners thus
allowing them to proceed at their own pace and freeing up class time for
other activities.

Based on these notions, a number of CALL tutoring systems were developed


for mainframe computers which were used at a time when PCs (personal
computers) did not exist. One of the most sophisticated of these was the
PLATO system, with its own hardware. It included vocabulary drills, brief
grammar explanations and drills, and translation tests at various intervals
(Ahmad, Corbett, Rogers & Sussex, 1985).

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, behaviouristic CALL was undermined by two
important factors. First, behaviouristic approaches to language learning were
rejected at both the theoretical and pedagogical level. Secondly, the
introduction of the PC allowed a whole range of possibilities in terms of
language learning activity types.

Communicative CALL

The communicative approach, developed during the 1970s and '80s, was to
influence the second phase of CALL. One of the main advocates of this new
approach for CALL was John Underwood, who in 1984 proposed a series of
"Premises for 'Communicative' CALL". According to him, CALL:

• focuses more on using forms than on the forms themselves;


• teaches grammar implicitly rather than explicitly;
• allows and encourages students to generate original utterances rather
than just manipulate prefabricated language;
• does not judge and evaluate everything the students do, nor does it
reward them with congratulatory messages, lights or bells;
• avoids telling students they are wrong and is flexible to a variety of
students responses;
• uses the target language exclusively and creates an environment in
which using the target language feels natural, both on and off the screen;
and
• will never try to do anything that a book can do just as well.
(1984:52)
Sheerin (1989:14) includes a list of software programs that were available at the
end of the 80s for different areas of EFL learning:

• Vocabulary programs: programs which focus primarily on individual


lexical items and tend to be presented in game form, and include
spelling, anagram, and odd-word-out games. E.g. Vocab (1985).
• Text reconstruction programs: these programs require the student to
restore a complete text or parts of a text. This frequently involves the
student in making educated guesses on contextual or syntactic grounds.
If the guess is correct, then that part of the text is restored. E.g. Quartext
(1985).
• Test programs: E.g. Choicemaster (1986).
• Adventures: adventure programs present a fantasy micro-world in which
the user moves from location to location, making decisions, and carrying
out various tasks. E.g. London Adventure (1986).
• Word processing programs: the provision of word processing facilities
(dictionaries and thesaurus) can help students improve the quality of
their written compositions.

Many of these programs were authorable, that is teachers (or students) could
enter their own list of words or type in new texts and exercises, clues or
explanations. This allows for different levels, interests, and topics.

By the end of the 1980s, a number of educators were looking for other ways to
teach in a more integrative manner, for example using task- or project-based
approaches. Integrative approaches to CALL are based on two important
technological developments that will be developed in the next two units:
multimedia computers.

CD-ROMS
Increasing sophistication in the speed, storage capacity and memory size of
computers, together with developments in the sophistication of software, have
enabled computers to deliver video, sound, text and graphics. Software using
these combinations of communications elements is usually called 'multimedia'.
The term 'multimedia' together with interaction refer to those systems that
combine any sort of media: video, images (both fixed and in motion), sound,
text and graphics, which enables an "interactive dialogue" to be established with
the people using it.

Multimedia technology is most commonly exemplified by the CD-ROM


(Compact Disc Read-Only Memory), the standard storage device for
multimedia. CDs have acquired rapid and universal acceptance, making CD-
ROMs and multimedia almost synonymous in most people's minds.

What makes multimedia even more powerful is that it also entails 'hypermedia',
/'haɪpər mi:diə/ with a number of advantages for language learning:
• First of all, more authentic learning is created: listening is combined with
seeing.
• Secondly, skills can easily be integrated in a single activity.
• Third, students can control their learning, as they can define their own
individual path, choosing where to start and where to go next, going
forward and backwards, spending more time on particular screens or
skipping others.
• Fourth, students can interact with these communication elements via
interactive multimedia. This allows language learners to explore,
discover, ponder, search, question, answer and receive feedback. The
control and manipulation of this meaningful information is passed into the
hands of the learner.
• Finally, it provides a main focus on content, without omitting a focus on
language form or learning strategies. For example, while the main lesson
is in the foreground, students can have access to grammatical
explanations or exercises, a vocabulary glossary, pronunciation
information, or questions or prompts which encourage them to adopt an
appropriate learning strategy.

An example of how hypermedia can be used for language learning is the


program Dustin which is being developed by the Institute for Learning Sciences
at Northwestern University (Schank & Cleary, 1995). The program is a
simulation of a student arriving at a U.S. airport. The student must go through
customs, find transportation to the city, and check in at a hotel. The language
learner using the program assumes the role of the arriving student by
interacting with simulated people who appear in video clips and responding to
what they say by typing in responses. If the responses are correct, the student
is sent off to do other things, such as meeting a roommate. If the responses are
incorrect, the program takes remedial action by showing examples or breaking
down the task into smaller parts. At any time the student can control the
situation by asking what to do, asking what to say, asking to hear again what
was just said, requesting for a translation, or controlling the level of difficulty of
the lesson.

CALL courseware developed in this period always tried to foster interactivity,


both between the computer and the learner and among learners (Stevens
1989), which as a result should raise learners' motivation. Some of the
programs developed during this communicative phase provided skill practice,
but in a non-drill format. Examples of this type of program include courseware
for paced reading, text reconstruction, and language games. In these programs,
the computer behaves as a tutor, as it provides feedback on the learners'
performance. But, unlike the drill-and-practice programs of the behaviourist
CALL phase, the process of finding the right answer involves a fair amount of
student choice, control, and interaction.
Figure : The computer as tutor. English Plus, Demo copy (© Edusoft Ltd. 1998).

Another CALL model used for communicative activities involves the computer
as stimulus to students' discussion, writing or critical thinking. Software used for
these purposes may include a variety of programs which may not have been
specifically designed for language learning.

The Internet
For the language professional, the Internet provides an overwhelming
/'əʊvər'hwelmɪŋ / amount of information for locating and using language and
language-teaching resources on the Net. There are countless Web pages to
visit that range from linguistic analyses to bad language. Visual aids, such as
photographs, drawings or even video; sound to provide more linguistic diversity
and extended listening practice; e-mail to chat with people across the ocean...
the whole world can be brought into the classroom and students can interact
over the Internet with other learners and native speakers.

The first part of this section will be devoted to giving the uninitiated student
some idea of the texture of the experience of surfing the Net in search of
materials related to language teaching.

What is it?

Internet is a 'network of networks' connecting thousands of computers all


around the world. Anyone can be connected to this network, from business
companies, universities or individuals to governmental agencies. In other words,
Internet is a global network shared by all its users to exchange electronic
messages or any other kind of information -this information can be in text, audio
or image format.

In fact, there is no single central computer or computers that control the


Internet. Its resources are placed in several thousand individual Internet sites.
The term "Internet" comes from "inter-networking" and it refers to the process of
connecting several local or private networks in order to create a far-reaching
network. This allows us to have access to systems from all over the world:
someone from Russia can obtain useful information from a site located in a
server in Mexico in just a few seconds and very cheaply - for the cost of a local
call.

The history of the Internet

When the Internet network was conceived in 1969, at that time called
ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Networks), it was only
designed to link the research agencies of the USA Defence Department, in
order to experiment with the connection of computers through telephone lines.
The aim of this project was to build up a resistant, well-protected network from
enemy attack. As a result, the USA Defence Department created a
decentralised system of networks that would continue functioning despite
problems in one or more computers. In 1973 ARPANET was expanded outside
the USA, and the first connections between the USA and the United Kingdom,
and between the USA and Norway, were established.

As the network grew, its popularity spread to include other scientific disciplines.
Soon universities became aware of the opportunities for sharing information in
research projects offered by the Internet. Nowadays, the Internet has become
the most extended communication media in the academic field world-wide.

And not only did the Internet cater to academic interests. At this time, the
figures for commercial activity through the Net increased astonishingly -of the
25,000 existing networks, 60% were commercial. In 1991 the commercial
networks were finally connected, and this newly-created network was called
INTERNET. In fact it was in 1993 that the Internet really started to expand, and
since then it has become a huge store of both academic and commercial
information.

Internet Services

There are two main areas of interest to the EFL student and teacher:
communication and information retrieval /rɪ'trɪ:vəl/

Internet offers us a wide range of services which can be divided into


synchronous and asynchronous services. A synchronous service is an online
connection in real time, simulating face-to-face communication and with all the
benefits this entails. On the other hand, an asynchronous service offers us the
possibility of exchanging information from anywhere and at any time, so that we
do not depend on the availability of the other person. In the following table you
will find a list with the main components or services offered by Internet:

INTERNET SERVICES DESCRIPTION

Electronic mail (e-mail) Sending and receiving messages

News groups System for group discussion

FTP anonymous Public access to archive servers

Internet Relay Chat (IRC) Chat with a group of people

World Wide Web Access to hypertext information

Mailing lists Distribution of information by e-mail

Electronic journals and magazines Journals, newspapers, etc.

BBS in Internet Information or message-sharing system

White pages directory E-mail addresses (URLs) of Internet users

All these services are available to any Internet user, so if we as teachers are to
design a whole course (or any course materials) using Internet resources, we
need to consider those that will best fit our students' profiles, and their needs
and goals. Nowadays, the services most frequently used by EFL/ESL teachers
are e-mail, chat, forums and the World Wide Web. These are the main services
that we will explore in this subject.

Electronic mail (or e-mail)

E-mail is the core of communication on the Internet. It has been around since
the beginning of computer networking. Sending messages from one person to
another through a network simplifies and speeds up the task of written
communication considerably. These messages are sent and received
independently of time and distance; moreover, it is not necessary that the two or
more people involved in the communication event are logged on to Internet at
the same time.

E-mail has a great advantage and that is it is not limited to just text. Anything
that can be digitised can be sent via e-mail. Formatted documents, pictures,
sounds, videos and complete software packages can be sent as easily as any
straight text message. The message reaches its destination in a few seconds, it
can be viewed by students or teachers, and any queries can be sorted out
within a few minutes.
Figure: An e-mail message. Internet Mail from © Microsoft Corp., 1996.

Internet Relay Chat (IRC)

This allows users to select from thousands of channels to engage in "keyboard


talks" across the world and respond to others in real time. An example of how
this works will clarify this Internet service. Person A can sit down at his
computer in Spain, go to a specific chat site, and type out a message which
appears on the site for public scrutiny as he types (i.e. in real time). Person B,
who is sitting at her computer in Japan, logged on to the same chat site, can
then type a reply in real time. Thus a two-way, or more, communication is set
up. This has immense potential for EFL students. For example, channels
between teacher and students can be set up, in the case of distance learning,
or students can sit down and 'chat' (by typing) with another class from a
different place.
Discussion lists
These are also called Mailing lists. If through e-mail you only get responses
from those few people you send messages out to, through discussion lists you
can hit a wider audience and ask any questions you may have about any
specific topic to the general public (or those members of the general public who
read this particular discussion list!).

There are thousands of lists (and more each day!), so finding the right list is not
always easy. Lists such as TESL-L, TELSCA-L and NETEACH-L are forums
where ESL teachers can express their opinions, give and ask for advice, ask
and answer EFL/ESL related questions, post and read news on forthcoming
conferences, workshops and other events.

TESL-L (Teachers of English as a Second Language List)


You can subscribe to it at listserv@cunyvm.cuny.edu
TESLCA-L (Technology, Computers and TESL)
NETEACH-L (The Internet as an educational tool)
http://the city.sfsu.edu/~funweb/neteach.htm

Students can use mailing lists as well to keep up with current news, learn new
vocabulary, and communicate with other students and teachers. The range of
topics in different discussion lists covers issues as diverse as health, music, the
environment, cinema, computers, family, hobbies, learning English, pets, sports,
and so on ad infinitum.

World Wide Web (WWW or simply Web)

The term 'Web' is often used interchangeably with the term 'Internet', but in fact
they refer to different things. Internet is the whole 'package' of communication
services and information, which we summarised in section 3.3. The World Wide
Web is the information which is accessible through web pages, and is thus just
one part of the Internet. The Web consists of a huge collection of
interconnected electronic pages of information (Web pages) from around the
globe, and are stored in different servers. This area of the Internet has become
one of the most efficient ways of obtaining information as it contains a vast and
seemingly infinite amount of information and resources for students and
specialists from any field of study.

The WWW is based on a client-server architecture. A client is a software


program, such as Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator (also referred to as
Web browsers) which allow you to navigate the WWW in search of information
from a server. A server application is a software program or an Internet site that
receives requests for information and transmits this information to the client (at
your PC).

In order to locate a Web site you are required to enter an URL (Uniform
Resource Locators - simply the technical word for Web address) which helps
identify the document you are looking for and the protocol you will be using.

One of the major Internet applications is HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol)


which allows you to navigate through links between different documents using
hypertext.
Reasons for using multimedia

Using CALL resources (from a CD-ROM or from a Web page) in foreign


language learning presents a series of well-defined characteristics to provide
learning opportunities:

1. Accessibility to information and teaching or learning materials


The WWW is potentially a powerful resource which sees the computer
facilitating a multi-directional flow of information (authentic text), and
providing a context which allows language use (authentic task) in an
'authentic' environment.
Both multimedia courseware (in a limited way) and the Internet (in a
limitless way) provide learners with the language input - over countless
didactic resources or authentic materials, such as library catalogues to
be accessed on-line, simulations of laboratory experiments, etc. -, and
may also provide exposure to 'authentic' written language, spoken
language and combinations of the two. The Internet, however, has
superseded CD-ROM technology in the delivery of instantaneous high-
quality video, audio and interactive learning materials, assuring at the
same time meaningful and authentic communication by electronic
means.
2. Flexibility of information
Information can be adapted to the learner's needs, to different groups of
students, to different learning contexts, to different learning styles, and so
on. One of the features that contributes to this characteristic is the fact
that information in the Web is not lineal. You will remember from the
previous unit that links provided a dynamic structure to documents, thus
each user (or student) can use the materials contained in different ways;
depending on the links he/she chooses, the navigation route will be
different. This allows students to develop a personalised, and therefore
more meaningful, learning process.
3. Support to users (teachers and learners): faster and easier
communication
Oral and written language are primarily a means of communication
between people; therefore, it is generally thought that authentic language
used in real contexts and for real purposes makes the best model for
learning. At the beginner level of language learning, such interactions
may be between learners negotiating tasks in some form of
interlanguage; for advanced learners, authentic language may imply the
academic discourse necessary to write papers and give oral reports. In
this context, computers are very useful tools to make authentic
communication happen, rather like conversation partners or task
masters.

The Internet allows:

• the exchange of information among individuals: post or drop messages;


• the opportunity of entering "live" chat areas where communication is
simultaneous;
• the exchange of ideas on topics relevant to the students.
Sending and receiving e-mail or chat messages is almost instantaneous and
speeds up solving our students queries, or the marking and return of students
papers. Moreover, since communication is mainly textual, it seems more
suitable for shy or introvert students who need time to answer and who may
need to feel sure that what they say is accurate. Oral communication is also
possible nowadays by means of videoconferencing, but this is not to be covered
in this subject. All in all, it can be said that the Net offers and promotes a space
for social interaction.

Using Multimedia Applications in the


EFL Classroom
Most of us will agree that computers by themselves are not enough for
language learning. However, they can be very effective in the language
classroom or for self-study as we will try to show in the following sections.
Before we start, however, we would like to point out that this subject is not
concerned with promoting a particular language teaching methodology or theory
of second language acquisition. Our aim is to help you gain some insight into
the possibilities which CALL might foster in each of the above areas.

There are three major, learner-related issues in the introduction of Multimedia


and Web resources in the language classroom:

• a conceptual one - choosing the specific resources to meet learning


needs;
• the second, a cognitive one - exactly how a learner interacts with the
materials;
• and lastly, how these resources can be integrated into a pedagogical
framework.

Evaluating and selecting software and resources

CALL learning resources are something today's teachers should be aware and
take advantage of. It is the teacher's responsibility to assist his/her students in
learning through what these resources have to offer. However, this does not
mean we should all rush out and buy stacks of CD-ROMs. Rather, we as
teachers need to learn how to critically examine these new tools.

Features to take into account

Before purchasing any software or integrating it in the English language


classroom, you -the teacher- will need to evaluate it and consider whether it
suits your students and both your and their requirements. One thing that is clear
is that there is no magic software pill, as there is no magic textbook pill, for
language learners. What works depends on a number of factors.
The first step is to do a needs analysis. Below you will find a list of
considerations put forward by Healey & Johnson (1998) that should help you
choose software that can work best in your setting.

1. Who are the users you are targeting? Kindergarteners and mature
adults have very different needs, to say the least.
2. What are the goals of the students you are targeting? Tourists,
businesspeople, scholars, all have very different goals and needs in
language learning. Someone who wants just a bit of English to get by for
a couple of weeks and someone who wants to translate scholarly articles
need different software.
3. What setting will the software be used in: independent study lab with
no teacher available, lab associated with a class, a teacher-led class with
one or a few computers? Students who come independently and work on
their own need software with much more explicit instruction built in than
ones who have been introduced to the software as part of a class.
4. How much do the teachers/lab assistants who will work with the
students know? Where the teachers don't know much about CALL, the
software needs to explicitly set goals. Where teachers don't know much
about language teaching, the software needs to have a curriculum built
into it. Skilled teachers can work with open-ended software like word-
processors and Internet resources.
5. What do you have now in the way of hardware and technical
assistance? Clearly, if you've got Windows machines, you won't be
buying Mac software and vice-versa. If you don't have CD-ROM drives,
you're limited in your options. If you have little or no technical support,
you need to buy simple programs that don't require much knowledge to
install and keep running.

Taking into account the above issues, teachers should be able to identify the
following categories in evaluating software:

Skill: What are the skills reinforced by the program?


User: Child (4-12), Teens, Adults?
Setting:

• A self-directed learning setting; this can be a lab or a computer in a


classroom. programs that incorporate pre-testing, on-going evaluation,
and a built-in curriculum.
• Software to be used by students independently after an introduction by
the teacher.
• Groups of students, usually over a network.
• Software to be used in class, usually with a teacher organising the
activities on the computer.

Teacher roles:

• The program can be controlled or facilitated by a teacher.


• The teacher may need to set tasks for this program to be valuable in
language learning.
• The program requires little action by the teacher.

Thorn (1995) has also considered other aspects for evaluating the effectiveness
of a program. These are as follows:

1. Ease and use of navigation. A program needs to be simple in its


interface, so that learners do not have to compete between learning
English and learning how the program works.
2. Cognitive load. Users need to cope with the programs content, its
structure and the response options. The program needs to be intuitive,
so that it works the way you may expect it to work.
3. Knowledge space and information presentation. The underlying
rationale about learning English as a second language need to represent
existing methodologies, where these methodologies have proven
successful.
4. Media integration. The multimedia needs to be combined to produce
an effective whole.
5. Aesthetics/es'θetɪk /. There needs to be a sense of beauty in the
graphical interface. This adds to an effective learning environment.
6. Overall functionality. The program needs to provide learning in a
way that users expect it to. Students need to go away from it having
learned something.

You should bear in mind that these are just a few suggestions. In your
assignment for this subject, we have summarised all these points into a simple
questionnaire that allows you to start analysing multimedia courseware.

Introducing learners to multimedia applications

The interface, which includes elements such as the menu, icons and layout, is
the essential link between user and computer; inadequate understanding of it
may result in partial use, non-use or misuse of the information. The instructions
should be simple, clear and concise and learners should not need prior
computer knowledge to use the program. However, for those educators who
have tried incorporating multimedia software into their learning environment, the
realisation of the gulf between what should be, and what is, is abundantly clear.

A study by Jolicoeur and Berger (1988) showed that learners are not accurate
at predicting the educational value of software, and they need guidance in
determining the order and parts of a program which they would most benefit
from using. Learners were found to be moving erratically around the program
repeating sections they enjoyed while not attempting others. The TILT project
(1995) found that novice users often chose the "Next Screen" option moving
through the content too quickly, as they were unsure of this new form of study.

In two experiments, Hueyching and Reeves (1992) mention three aspects of


program design that learners interface with when using interactive learning
systems. These are: the content of the information; the structure of the program,
and the response strategies available. In order to respond meaningfully, the
learner must perceive the various options available, select the preferred option,
and then take action through the human-computer interface.

A number of research studies support the view that user-support materials can
play a crucial role in encouraging effective use of a program by guiding the
learner through the program in a sequential manner which reflects the intended
objectives of the material and/or curriculum.

• Jolicoeur and Berger (1988) designed learner instruction cards to lead


the learners through software in a logical and efficient manner, and found
that all of the teachers and most of the students (82%) agreed that the
cards made the program easier to use.
• Perzylo (1993), discussing three research experiments concerning
learners' searching techniques when using electronic encyclopedias,
also concluded that learners should be given instruction with regards to
searching and navigating through such resources.
• Barnett (1993), suggests that a paper-based back-up menu, including
information pages, and simplified instructions on the use of the program,
be available to learners so that the technology and/or terminology does
not interfere with the learner's independent use of the program as a
language-learning aid.

Multimedia applications as self-access resources

This section is aimed to be only a brief examination of the potential that


multimedia resources can bring into the classroom, not as part of a lesson
sequence, but as a source for self-study activities.

There are ways of turning a classroom into a mini self-access centre once or
twice a week or however often seems appropriate. This can be done by setting
up semi-permanent activity corners: ...
(Sheerin 1989:22)

The availability of self-access facilities, however, entails the teacher guiding


students to make the best use of the resources. The teacher needs to find out
the kind of learners he/she has and the individual needs of his/her students, in
order to be able to design an individual study plan or 'strategy worksheet' for
each student.

Materials can also be linked into courses, syllabuses or assigned to learners for
homework or as follow-up activities to the work undertaken in a classroom
session. Reference CD-ROMs can also be used by teachers to help in their
lesson preparation, providing texts, sound, video, grammar or vocabulary
exercises that can be used in class.
Lesson planing
All teachers are aware of the importance of a well-planned lesson. However,
before using computers teachers need to prepare the lesson more thoroughly
than ever, and a backup plan is always very useful in case there is no electricity
or the software does not run on the equipment....Anyone who has used even
the simplest technology in the classroom knows how it has the habit of breaking
down at awkward moments.

Before planning any activity using multimedia, we not only have to carefully
prepare the material required, but we also need to consider the configuration of
the learning space - do learners work individually, in pairs, threes, or as a
whole-class group? Another important point that needs to be borne in mind is
what learning styles we want to promote - visual (textual and graphical), verbal,
aural, kinesthetic, social, or individual.

Gagne's (1979) nine instruction events provide a step by step guide which
shows teachers how to communicate information effectively to their learners
when using multimedia. This should result in better learning. The steps are:

1. Gain the learner's attention: We recommend you turn off computers


when explaining the main objective of the activity(ies) to your students, in
order to focus their attention on what you are saying.
2. State the objectives, preferably on the board or by means of
presenting the instructions in printed form.
3. Recall prior knowledge.
4. Present the stimulus (something to respond to), i.e. the activity to be
carried out.
5. Provide guidance.
6. Elicit performance: what skills do we want to work on?
7. Provide feedback relevant to the situation: whole-class discussion,
teacher evaluation of students' progress, etc. Equally important is to
respond to the individual student for his/her contribution to the classroom
and to the learning process.
8. Assess performance.
9. Enhance retention and transfer to different situations.

Useful EFL websites

The following is a list of websites which EFL teachers might find useful. Please
remember that website URLs change, although these websites were all active
at the time of going to print.

• On-line journals dealing exclusively with CALL


http://www.deakin.edu.au/~irudayar/calljour.html
• General resources for teachers
This site includes links to lesson plans and exercises for students, as
well as to teaching organisations, jobs, etc.
http://www.english-forum.com/teaching.html
• Skills
A site to practice the reading skill, with a large story library, plus
accompanying lesson plans.
http://www.storyarts.org/classroom/index.html<

A site which offers good listening activities (you need to install Real
Audio).
http://www.hio.ft.hanze.nl/thar/listen.htm

A site dealing with the writing skill for students.


http://tqjunior.advanced.org/5115/s_writing.htm
• Grammar and Vocabulary
Activities for practising grammar and vocabulary (including idioms).
http://english-forum.com/interactive/

Activities and worksheets to use in class, for intermediate level and up.
http://www.smic.be/smic5022/teacherhandouts.htm
• Video and songs
Lesson plans to use with well-known films.
http://www.eslnotes.com/

A huge data bank of the words to lots of well-known songs.


http://www.lyrics.com

Ideas for using music and songs in the classroom.


http://www.eslpartyland.com/teachers/nov/music.htm
• On-line Dictionaries
Cambridge University Press allows you to search four dictionaries at this
site.
http://dictionary.cambridge.org/

Longman allows access to an on-line interactive dictionary, with activities


for many levels of students.
http://www.awl-elt.com/dictionaries/index.html
• Projects
Global Internet projects for education - you can join or submit projects
here.
http://www.montageplus.co.uk/