Submitted by Ayad, Iran
How to use technology to put the learners in the spotlight?
Dr Richards responds:
Technology mediated language teaching (TMLT) offers many potential benefits to learners. These include:
Wider exposure to English: For learners whose exposure to English is limited the Internet allows them to extend their exposure to English beyond the classroom, both to authentic and instructional materials.
Compatibility with current theories of SLA: research on second language acquisition identifies five features of effective language learning environments, which underlie the design of many TMLT activities:
- Learners have many opportunities to read, write, listen to and discuss oral and written texts expressed in a variety of ways
- Their attention is drawn to patterns of English language structure.
- Learners have time to use their English productively
- They have opportunities to notice their errors and correct their English
- They involve activities that maximize opportunities for learners to interact with others in English
Increased opportunities for authentic interaction: TMLT allows learners to connect with other learners worldwide and to participate in real communication.
Enables flexible learning: students can learn in their own time and at their own pace. They can learn from their own home or workplace rather than in the classroom.
Supports different ways of learning: it allows students to find learning resources that match their preferred way of learning, for example visual or auditory.
Supports different skills: some students may wish to focus on a particular skill (e.g. reading or speaking) and can access resources that address a particular skill (see below). For example students can join a Listserv that focuses on a particular aspect of leaning English, such as idioms,
Suitable for learners of different ability: learners can choose activities and resources suitable for their proficiency level from beginners to advanced.
Encourages more active learning: the roles of students change. They are no longer the passive recipient of instruction but are actively engaged in furthering their own knowledge and skills and more in control of the process and the outcomes
Encourages learner autonomy: learners have a greater level of choice over what they learn and how they learn it, thus developing a greater sense of learner autonomy.
Provides a stress-reduced environment: for some learners TMLT is a much less stressful way to practice using English than classroom-based activities where they feel they are being compared with their peers. It supports individualized learning.
Provides a social context for learning: it allows learners to join a learning community in which they interact socially with other learners. In this way it encourages collaborative learning. Students provide peer tutoring, helping each other accomplish tasks.
Increases motivation: motivation often increases when students are engaged in TMLT and discipline problems decrease.
Access to more engaging materials: TMLT provides access to content that is often very engaging for learners such as digital games, Youtube content and so on.
Encourages situated learning: mobile technologies in particular can be helpful in supporting learners to use English at the point of need, for example when traveling.
Offers opportunities for more and alternative types of feedback: many programs include immediate or delayed feedback to learners, and collaborative tools such as email and chat allow learners to work with other learners to get peer-feedback, or to get help from a (remote) teacher.