TECHNOLOGY AND TEACHING ENGLISH 1

Running head: TECHNOLOGY AND TEACHING ENGLISH

Technology and Teaching English in Government Schools and Private Institutes in Tabriz

Shirin Aslanabadi Islamic Azad University- Tabriz Branch Department of Foreign Languages Tabriz, Iran June, 2010

. So there the need for training teachers of tomorrow with good knowledge of both seems to be really crucial. The major objective was to determine whether the use of technology would enhance learning and teaching English or not. There were interesting results which showed that if it was applied without good knowledge of modern language teaching methods and/or good use of tools. it would lead to students’ frustration and discouragement.TECHNOLOGY AND TEACHING ENGLISH 2 Abstract This research intended to study the role of technology on teaching English in government schools and private language institutes in Tabriz in East Azerbaijan province in Iran.

In contrast. repetitive drills which focused only on language form and ignored communicative meaning achieved poor results. Within this general communicative trend. The 1980s and 1990s have seen a shift toward communicative language teaching. University language classes in the 1970s and '80s usually included obligatory sessions at the audio lab where students would perform the dreaded repetition drills. education. at least in part due to poor results achieved from expensive language laboratories. Whether in the lab or in the classroom. more pejoratively. Cognitive Approaches Cognitive approaches to communicative language teaching are based on the view that learning a language is an individual psycholinguistic act. as well as by early computer software programs which provided what were known as "drill-and-practice" (or. From this perspective. Language teachers who followed the grammar-translation method (in which the teacher explained grammatical rules and students performed translations) relied on one of the most ubiquitous technologies in U. we can note two distinct perspectives.TECHNOLOGY AND TEACHING ENGLISH 3 The Role of Technology in Teaching English in Government Schools and Private Institutes in Tabriz Virtually every type of language teaching has had its own technologies to support it. another excellent medium for the teacher-dominated classroom. meaningful interaction. These can roughly be divided into cognitive approaches and sociocognitive approaches. which emphasizes student engagement in authentic.S. The blackboard was later supplemented by the overhead projector. language learners construct . the audiolingual method fell into disrepute. both of which have their implications in terms of how to best integrate technology into the classroom. the blackboard? a perfect vehicle for the one-way transmission of information that method implied. By the late 1970s. the audio-tape was the perfect medium for the audiolingual method (which emphasized learning through oral repetition). "drill-and-kill") grammatical exercises.

"big box. . thus supporting a process of mental construction of the linguistic system." or "think about" vs..e. Technologies which support a cognitive approach to language learning are those which allow learners maximum opportunity to be exposed to language in meaningful context and to construct their own individual knowledge. Concordancers are also useful for investigating collocational meanings (e. Errors are seen in a new light? not as bad habits to be avoided but as natural by-products of a creative learning process that involves rule simplification.. if relevant at all. Concordancing software (e. generalization. "think over") or grammatical features (e. based not on habit formation but rather on innate cognitive knowledge in interaction with comprehensible. New Reader from Hyperbole or Text Tanglers from Research Design Associates) allows teachers to provide students various texts in which letters or words are either missing or scrambled.TECHNOLOGY AND TEACHING ENGLISH 4 a mental model of a language system. Examples of these types of technologies include textreconstruction software..g. concordancing software. Learners' output (i. what they say or write). Concordancers are thus supplements to dictionaries in that they help illustrate the usage of a word.. what they hear or read) more comprehensible or salient so that the learners can construct their own cognitive models of the language. While such activity could in theory be carried out with paper and pencil.g. transfer.e.. 1987). rather than just its definition.g..e. meaningful language (Chomsky. Students work alone or in groups to complete or re-arrange the texts. and multimedia simulation software.. "used to go"). Teachers can quickly and easily create re-arranged texts or cloze exercises (i. and other cognitive strategies (see Chaudron.g. "was going" vs. 1986). Text-reconstruction software (e. Monoconc from Athelstan) allows teachers or students to search through small or large texts to look for instances of the actual use of particular words. "large box" vs. texts with deleted words) from any original word-processed passage. is beneficial principally to the extent that it helps make input (i. Students can use hints provided by the computer to assist their learning process. the computer facilitates the process for both teachers and students.

I. as well as a video album that includes samples of language functions. Long & Crookes. the program provides optional comprehension tools. Laboratory for Advanced Technology in the Humanities. Gee. 1992. 1993. The best of these programs allow learners a good deal of control and interactivity so they can better manipulate their linguistic input. concordancers. and multimedia simulations are often used in pairs or groups. learning a language is viewed as a process of apprenticeship or socialization into particular discourse communities (Schieffelin & Ochs. Philippe is a game for intermediate and advanced French learners that incorporates full motion video. Meskill. 1987. While text-reconstruction programs. which they store on their own computer diskettes. and text. Students can also create their own custom video albums. One excellent example of this is the multimedia videodisc program A la rencontre de Philippe developed by the Athena Language Learning Project at the M. Sociocognitive Approaches Sociocognitive approaches. 1987. emphasize the social aspect of language acquisition. Prabhu. graphics. 1991). 1986. the software programs by themselves do not require human-to-human interaction. such as a glossary and transcriptions of audio segments . 1987) while simultaneously learning both content and language (see for example Flowerdew. To help language learners understand the sometimes challenging French.TECHNOLOGY AND TEACHING ENGLISH 5 Multimedia simulation software allows learners to enter into computerized microworlds with exposure to language and culture in a meaningful audio-visual context. sound. From this perspective. not only to provide comprehensible input but also to give students practice in the kinds of communication they will later engage in outside the classroom. Snow. in press. This can be achieved through student collaboration on authentic tasks and projects (see for example Breen. and it is in fact this fit of the Internet with a sociocognitive approach which largely accounts for the . 1996). Candlin & Murphy.T. students need to be given maximum opportunity for authentic social interaction. in contrast to cognitive approaches. allowing learners to "walk around" and explore simulated environments by following street signs or floor plans. The Internet is a powerful tool for assisting a sociocognitive approach to language teaching.

First. collocations. common phrases. 1997. Special lists can be set up so that students' messages get automatically forwarded to either a small group or the whole class. as will be illustrated below. Computer-assisted classroom discussion makes use of synchronous ("real-time") writing programs. Second. . The Internet is a vast interactive medium which can be used in a myriad of ways. Electronic communication within a single class might be viewed as an artificial substitute for face-to-face communication. Swan and Frazer. The class meets in a networked computer lab. 1995. computer-assisted discussion tends to feature more equal participation than face-to-face discussion. resulting in class discussions which are more fully collaborative (Kelm. The entire session can later be saved and passed on to students. computer-assisted discussion allows students to better notice the input from others' messages and incorporate that input into their own messages. This takes place both through computerassisted classroom discussion and through outside-of-class discussion. such as Daedalus Interchange by Daedalus. All the messages are listed chronologically on the top half of the screen and can be easily scrolled through and re-read. Kern. Students type in their messages and hit a key to instantly send the message to the rest of the class. However. Inc. Warschauer. Meskill. either in electronic form or hard copy. One way is to use online activities to foster increased opportunities for interaction within a single class. teachers or a few outspoken students are less likely to dominate the floor. 1999).TECHNOLOGY AND TEACHING ENGLISH 6 new-found enthusiasm for using computers in the language classroom. Outside-of-class discussion is usually carried out using asynchronous tools. Computer-Mediated Communication in a Classroom There are several different approaches for using the Internet to facilitate interaction within and across discourse communities. it has been found to have a number of beneficial features which make it a good tool for language learning. 1992. Warschauer. see St.g.. 1996. and students communicate through writing rather than through talking. such as e-mail or conferencing systems. thus expanding opportunities for learning of new linguistic chunks (e.

see Cummins & Sayers. Sayers. Third. Finally. it allows students the opportunity for target language practice in situations where such practice might otherwise be difficult. Computer-Mediated Communication for Long Distance Exchange Computer-mediated communication between long-distance partners offers many of the same advantages. German. Accessing and using these pages in language education supports a sociocognitive approach by helping immerse students in discourses that extend well beyond the classroom. Warschauer. which takes place in writing and allows more planning time than does face-to-face talk. Accessing Resources and Publishing on the World Wide Web The World Wide Web offers a vast array of resources from throughout the world. and Chinese. and then some. While the majority of Web pages are in English. computer-assisted discussion. including Spanish. The most effective exchange projects are ones that are well-integrated into the course goals and are based on purposeful investigation rather than just electronic chat (Warschauer. film. Such projects might involve joint exploration of culture. For all these reasons. it provides students increased opportunities to communicate in the target language. generally using email but also using Web-based conferencing systems or various types of software for synchronous chatting. 1995b). 1993. since computer based discussion can take place outside of the classroom. French. 1995. language teachers (especially but not exclusively in courses which feature writing) have found single-class computer-mediated communication projects to be beneficial. increasing numbers exist in other commonly-taught (and some uncommonly-taught) languages. Warschauer. 1999). 1995a. 1999). their . This is especially important in foreign language instruction where students might have few other opportunities for authentic target language use. social conditions. 1996).TECHNOLOGY AND TEACHING ENGLISH 7 John & Cash. In particular. 1997. Japanese. or literature and often result in some kind of collaborative publication (for examples and discussion. Long-distance exchange projects have been organized in a number of ways. features language which is lexically and syntactically more complex than oral talk (Warschauer.

thus enabling writing for a real audience. 1995). the computer is a machine. Students can also publish their own work on the World Wide Web. This type of research ignored two important factors. Osuna & Meskill. in which students perform an authentic service for community organizations. Students can use Web pages as authentic materials for conducting research on culture and current events (see for example Lixl-Purcell. comparable in some ways to books. and their language textbook. or libraries. students work together in collaborative teams internationally and then publish the results of their projects on the Web (see for example Vilmi. First of all. They interview members of the organization. 1995). 1995). To our knowledge. if they promote language learning and do so in a cost-effective way. Rosen. In other cases. 1998) or for gathering material for class projects and simulations (see for example Deguchi. teachers help their students contribute to international Web magazines which include articles from many students around the world (see for example Shetzer. ESL students work in small groups to make a Web site on behalf of a community organization (see discussion in Warschauer. Advantages and Disadvantages What then are the advantages and disadvantages of using new technologies in the language classroom? One question often asked by administrators is whether or not technologies truly "work. At a college in Hawai�i. gather information and documents from them. 1995. This is particularly critical for foreign language students who otherwise experience the target culture only through their instructor and select curricula. 1995). The world of online communication is a vast new medium.TECHNOLOGY AND TEACHING ENGLISH 8 immediate communities." that is. no one has ever attempted to conduct research on . One particularly creative application pairs new technologies with service learning. teachers have created in-class online newsletters or magazines that their classes have produced (see for example Jor. 1999). learning both writing and presentation skills in the process. print. not a method. In some cases. These types of questions motivated much research in the 1970s comparing use of computers to non-use of computers. And in other situations. 1995. and put everything together in a coherent online package.

investment of time. cultural. Much of our reading. This is accomplished through creating opportunities for authentic and meaningful interaction both within and outside the classroom. then. Secondly. We also must think about what types of language students need to learn in order to communicate effectively via computer. writing. and communicating is migrating from other environments (print. etc. we can better prepare students for the kinds of international cross-cultural interactions which are increasingly required for success in academic. The computer is a powerful tool for this process as it allows students access to online environments of international communication. and linguistic exploration. Investment of Money . What then are the potential disadvantages of using new technologies for language teaching? We focus on three aspects: investment of money. new communications technologies are part of the broader ecology of life at the turn of the century.TECHNOLOGY AND TEACHING ENGLISH 9 whether the book or the library is beneficial for language learning. In summary. Whereas a generation ago. the advantages of using new technologies in the language classroom can only be interpreted in light of the changing goals of language education and the changing conditions in postindustrial society. By using new technologies in the language classroom. and providing students the tools for their own social. and uncertainty of results. we taught foreign language students to write essays and read magazine articles. telephone. we now must (also) teach them to write e-mail messages and conduct research on the Web. but rather to help them gain apprenticeship into new discourse communities. or personal life. Seeking similar sweeping conclusions on the effects of the computer or the Internet is equally futile. and even more importantly. Language educators now seek not only (or even principally) to teach students the rules of grammar. This realization has sparked an approach which emphasizes the importance of new information technologies as a legitimate medium of communication in their own right rather than simply as teaching tools.) to the screen. we can no longer think only about how we use technologies to teach language. In such a context. vocational.

But. Intelligent use of new technologies usually involves allocations of about one-third for hardware. but it is not unreasonable to assume that over time new technologies will help create more effective education (bearing in mind the earlier point that the goals and nature of education are changing in the information age. there are definite startup expenses related to implementing new technologies in education. one-third for software. new technologies create excellent opportunities for longdistance exchanges. As indicated earlier. Increased demands on time are due in part to the difficulty of using new online multimedia technologies in their still-early stages (comparable. but also from the changing dynamics of the online classroom.TECHNOLOGY AND TEACHING ENGLISH 10 Uses of new technologies in the long run tend to result in higher productivity. software. whatever results may be achieved over the long term. and one third for staff support and training. staffing. they also may save time. another benefit of electronic communication? that it provides . and plans? especially when involving teachers from different countries or educational systems. For college language learning programs. at least in the economic sphere (see discussion in Castells. schedules. 1996). such expenses usually entail hardware. with little funding left over for staff training. time demands are caused not only from learning how to master the technology. perhaps. to the early days of tuning a radio or starting a car when those machines were first invented). or software. but such exchanges can be extremely complicated in terms of coordinating goals. Also. and training for at least one networked computer laboratory where students can drop in and use assigned software and one or more networked computer laboratories where teachers can bring whole classes on an occasional or regular basis. Productivity in education is certainly harder to measure. In any case. It is often the case in poorly-funded language programs that the hardware itself comes in via a one-time grant (or through hand-me-downs from science departments). maintenance. Investment of Time Just as technologies may save money over the long term. However. thus making direct comparisons difficult). potential long-term benefits to an institution are little consolation to an individual teacher who is spending enormous amounts of time learning constantly-changing software programs and trying to figure out the best way to use them in the classroom.

At the same time four English classes were also chosen randomly in four private language institutes. Language teachers at government schools seldom make use of modern technological materials and whenever they use there have been problems for themselves and frustrations for their students due to improper use of technologies. Technological advances have affected language learning and teaching at various points recently. Is modern technological sophistication correlated to pedagogical effectiveness? Which technical attributes specific to modern technologies can be effectively used for pedagogical purposes? How can language teachers integrate new technologies into the curriculum? Do modern technologies provide a new way for an efficient use of human and material resources? New technologies-revolutionary as they may be from a strictly technological point of view-are normally regarded as revolutionary from a pedagogical standpoint as well. as a teacher's email box becomes flooded with messages from previously-reticent students. 4. 2. While at private institutes where teachers are trained to use modern technological materials the results seem to be satisfactory. especially at the intermediate levels. Instruments The researchers have had the experience of teaching the English language at different levels. The effectiveness of different technologies is related to four major and serious questions: 1.TECHNOLOGY AND TEACHING ENGLISH 11 opportunities for student-initiated communication? can also create a time burden. Method Subjects Two guidance school and two high school English language classes were randomly chosen to be observed in which modern technologies were seldom used by the teachers. at private language institutes to Iranian EFL learners in . 3. The effects are both positive and negative.

. R. In government schools teachers rarely used modern technologies but they frequently made use of some modern method of teaching languages. M. J. N. DISCUSSION: After identifying the results and the reactions of the learners and analyzing the viewpoints of the teacher in the classes observed it became clear that technology can only be useful if used effectively by experts who were trained in presenting language and technological material at the same time. 23-46). Englewood Cliffs. The researchers hope that such a study will help ELT learners and trainers improve their way of learning and teaching using both modern methods of teaching and new technologies simultaneously. References Barson.). In C. So they could refer to the institute to observe other classes and also refer to government schools to observe classes.TECHNOLOGY AND TEACHING ENGLISH 12 Tabriz and have noticed that the majority of their students enjoyed practicing English when they made use of modern technologies especially the Internet. & Debski. Breen. Candlin & D. 49-68). (1996).). But in private language institutes both new technological materials and modern methods of teaching languages were used and students proved leaning better. Results The following results were observed in the English classes observed. P. contingency and goal-oriented activity. Honolulu. In M. Lancaster practical papers in English language education: Vol. Telecollaboration in foreign language learning (pp. (1987). HI: University of Hawai'i Second Language Teaching and Curriculum Center. NJ: Prentice Hall. Murphy (Eds.. Learner contributions to task design. 7. Language learning tasks (pp. Calling back CALL: Technology in the service of foreign language learning based on creativity. Warschauer (Ed.

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