1. Web Technology in Language Classroom

posted 3 Apr 2011, 20:56 by Xavier Pradheep Singh   [ updated 9 Jul 2011, 07:12 ]

Dr. A. Joycilin Shermila
Associate Professor,
Annammal College of Education for Women,
Tiruchendhur Road, Tuticorin – 628003
Email: ajshermila@gmail.com


How to cite this article:
MLA (7th Edition)
Shermila, Joycelin. "Web Technology in Language Classroom." Journal of Technology for ELT. 1.1 (January 2011): n. pag. Web. (Date of Access).
MLA (6th Edition)
Shermila, Joycelin. "Web Technology in Language Classroom." Journal of Technology for ELT 1.1 (January 2011): (Date of Access) <https://sites.google.com/site/journaloftechnologyforelt/archive/january2011/


Abstract
                The Internet and its user-friendly interface the World Wide Web provide versatile opportunities for language learners. Children are highly motivated by computers and language learning is more enjoyable with the Internet. Social networking can serve as a fantastic educational tool both for teachers and students if they understand that the site is used for educational purposes, and is not for personal use. E-mail offers students a practical opportunity to interact with others in the target language. New generation is crazy about the internet and computers; therefore it will be a fun way to use web 2.0 in language teaching. The World Wide Web should be used to develop purposeful interaction in the language classroom.

            Computer technology is pervasive in all aspects of modern life. In the last few decades, computer technology has made tremendous progress in the world of communication to benefit people. One of the benefits of computer is to help the teachers and the students in teaching learning process. The Internet and its user-friendly interface the World Wide Web provide versatile opportunities for language learners. The World Wide Web has opened new vistas of language teaching, and since its language is English it provides an unlimited resource of vo­cabulary. Moreover, as children are highly motivated by computers, language learning is more enjoyable with the Internet than with conventional methods.

            Computers provide students with lot of information and give them individual guidance in learning. In the computer environment students have the pleasure to discover new knowledge easily. At the same time they will always need their teachers’ help and guidance. This new situation requires developing new skills, both on the part of teachers and students. (Cole and Griffin, cited by Jones and Mercer, 1993:23).

            The real advance in the use of computers in language teaching came with the transition from floppy-disc to compact discs (CDs) as the basic form of software, the proliferation of e-mail as a means of communication and, most importantly, with the arrival of the Internet as a widely available resource. Today there is a vast array of language teaching material available in the form of CD ROM or DVD, ranging from self-study materials to supplement published course-books, to ESP-based courses and culture-based materials. Many learners of English have access to e-mail and the Internet at home as well as at school and this presents teachers with a range of useful options in terms of setting writing tasks, communicating with learners by e-mail, giving them research tasks and setting up project work based on researching the Internet.

Teacher’s Role in the Digital Classroom
            It is an admitted fact that using the Internet for learning changes the role of the teacher and the work of the students. As Hajnal, Agócs and Veress point out, future language learners who have an Internet connected computer at home spend lots of time in front of the computer and they are to be guided rather than instructed, as they can find necessary information on the World Wide Web, and they keep in touch with their teacher and classmates by e-mail (1996). Moreover, Windeatt, Hardisty and Eastment reveal that when students are working on the computers they pay little attention to their teacher. This requires more flexibility from the instructor in managing the lesson, and allows more time for working with individuals (2000).

            Certainly, teachers have a great responsibility in giving their students the right amount of help. ‘Children need to taste the success that will encourage them to better things, and a teacher can guide them towards that feeling, and show she experiences it also …’ (Hill, cited by Fisher, 1993: 61).

            Computers cannot help students when they have difficulties. It is the teacher who not only instructs but pays attention to students’ problems. As Richard and Janice Schreck point out, “the computer lacks the abilities of a human instructor, for instance, who can interpret facial expressions that indicate confusion or distress, or who can clarify and explain poorly presented segments of otherwise acceptable material whenever the need arises” (1991: 478). Computer programs can provide students with authentic texts. The Internet is the principal medium by which students can communicate with others at a distance.

            Kenji and S. Kathleen Kitao devised three major categories for computer usage:
  • “the computer as a teaching tool”,
  • “the computer as a teacher resource”, and
  • “the computer as a management tool”(1995).
            Computers’ role in education is growing, and they are becoming important aids both for students and teachers.

            Net-based lessons are motivational, a source of authentic language and retain a certain "cutting edge" feel. One of the most important roles of the Internet in learning a language is having access to a large range of audiovisual materials. The Internet provides the learners and teachers with such materials as listening to the news, radio, and/or TV programs, by recording and playing them back to see how native speakers use the language, phrases, and idioms, which also facilitates practice of pronunciation.

Social Networking Sites for Language Teaching
            The “social networking site” is the 21st century term for “virtual community,” a group of people who use the Internet to communicate by voice, chat, message, blogs about everything and anything. The widespread examples of social networking are Facebook, Twitter, Orkut, YouTube, MySpace, etc. The idea of using social networking in language classrooms seems to be challenging. Using social networking in a classroom, students get an opportunity to:
  • Learn a language collaboratively
  • Be more enthusiastic about learning
  • Become autonomous learners
  • Work together constantly and collaboratively
  • Communicate with the native speakers
  • Learn more about the culture from native speakers themselves
  • Become more accustomed to native speakers’ pronunciation
  • Learn a language in more authentic situations
            Language teachers can post the target materials on the social network site and students can write their comments and can also have a discussion on the target topics. Students can be encouraged to share their ideas, difficulties, etc. Social networking can serve as a fantastic educational tool both for teachers and students if they understand that the site is used for educational purposes, and is not for personal use.

            The speaking exercises on the Internet give the learner and the teacher the opportunity to engage in an online, simultaneous atmosphere with the help of applications such as Messenger and Skype. Skype provides a real-time speaking opportunity with a group of students in a virtual classroom. The teacher can open a pop up window to write messages, to show the spelling of certain words. Everyone in the group has the opportunity to write something on the message box. The students have the opportunity to write on a separate window individually. This is a chance for the shy or timid students who are hesitant and do not want their comments or questions to be seen by others. Such students can open a new private window and get into communication with the teacher personally. It enables the user to continue their learning process online without the need for physical presence in class. In language teaching not all areas lend themselves readily for online teaching. Solving tests or doing exercises based on already familiar grammar items is easily transferrable from a classroom setting to online teaching via Skype.

Emails in Language Classroom
            Exchanging emails can help language learners explore the language with interest. It will be a good way in learning how native speakers start and end emails, the common expressions, and the daily life expressions or abbreviations that they use in emails. It will also help in learning the standard language in some cases. Being very fast, emails increase the exchange between people and consequently increase the interaction between them which leads to more language uses.

            E-mail offers students a practical opportunity to interact with others in the target language. Students can create their own mailing lists or the teacher can set up a class e-mail list or listserv. Allowing interested outsiders to subscribe to a class e-mail list can create additional opportunities for authentic communication with other target language speakers beyond one's own familiar classmates (Gonglewski, 1999). When e-mail communication is kept within one class, the teacher can easily connect communicative tasks to the topic currently being covered in class and thereby extend the learners' communicative time and involvement with that topic. Instructors can design e-mail assignments as pre-class, post-class, or supplementary activities.

Web 2 0 Technologies in Language Classrooms
                The term Web 2.0 is associated with web applications that facilitate participatory information sharing, interoperability, user-centered design, and collaboration on the World Wide Web. A Web 2.0 site allows users to interact and collaborate with each other in a social media dialogue as creators of user-generated content in a virtual community, in contrast to websites where users are limited to the passive viewing of content that was created for them. Examples of Web 2.0 include social networking sites, blogs, wikis, video sharing sites, hosted services and web applications.

            The teaching profession as a whole has much to learn from its digital native students, especially at the technological and social frontier of Web 2.0 (Wildner, 2000; Davis, 2002; Evans, 2004). I t is highly encouraged that language teachers must develop awareness and competencies to effectively integrate technology in language teaching and learning. They need to equip themselves with the recent technological innovations to make learning process more relevant to the needs of the modern world (Churchill, 2000; 2007).  In our world, there are different kinds of English teaching methods. Students are to have fun while learning. As the students are keen on technology, they spend most of their time playing computer games or surfing the web. Because of this reason the teacher can make his lesson more effective and enjoyable by web 2.0 technologies. They are up to date so they attract students’ attention. Also they make teaching easier. The teacher can find a lot of visual or audio materials and games. We can get use of web 2.0 technologies in the classroom effectively. New generation is crazy about the internet and computers; therefore it will be a fun way to use web 2.0 in language teaching.

            The Internet is occupying an important position in the ELT classroom. The World Wide Web can be used very effectively in teaching English as a second language interactively. Preparing for an Internet-based language lesson may be demanding because looking for information on the World Wide Web requires a considerable amount of time and concentration. However, it is absolutely rewarding using it in teaching languages, as students benefit from it enormously. In addition, the range of educational materials that are available in Internet constantly increases and new resources appear on the Internet, which has to be exploited. The World Wide Web should never be used in the language lesson just for the sake of novelty. It should be used to develop purposeful interaction in the language classroom.


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ELTAI Computer Technology SIG,
4 Apr 2011, 20:29
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