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Technology in Language Teaching Today

Written by Emma Zhenzhen Gu

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Importance of technology-driven language teaching and learning

Technology is having a growing impact on language learning worldwide. The landscape of language teaching and language learning has transformed so rapidly that the classroom does not serve as the primary learning site anymore. Mohammad Reza Ahmadi (2018) argued that electronic teaching programs appeal greatly to instructors due to their contribution to enhancing students’ active engagement with teachers and maximizing positive language learning outcomes. The use of technology has become an important part of the learning process in and out of class and is viewed as the core requirement in schools. 

Modern technology includes but is not limited to computerization, multimedia devices, mobile phones, audio/visual effects applications, and social media which can facilitate faster and more comprehensive language progression. For example, the application of multimedia in class could integrate print texts, film, and the internet to familiarize students with language vocabulary and structure. 

Support provided by technology

The great benefits teachers and learners could gain enable the indispensable role of technology. Research findings revealed that both students prefer electronic curricula and teachers are able to employ technology in their language teaching (Alqahtani A, 2019). The reasons for technology-driven language teaching and learning are revealed as follows. 

Support for teachers (Richards, 2015)

1. Create a better learning environment

In a technology-driven learning environment, flexible classroom spaces where connected devices, audiovisual tools, and purposeful furniture are integrated facilitate positive engagement of students and the mix of independent, small-group, and whole-class learning that is now viewed as essential to student success (EdTech staff, 2018).

2. Increase the possibility of a much wider range of strategies in teaching

Compared with traditional teaching methods that could make students passive and bored, current teaching strategies primarily utilize multimedia, social media, various available resources, and educational games giving students opportunities to meaningfully increase their exposure to language and thus make their own knowledge. 

3. Connect the classroom with the real world

 Technology in the classroom such as videos, images, and software solutions empower teachers to incorporate the larger real world into the classroom. Turning the theories into practical experiences motivates students to practice and be deeply immersed in language learning.

Support for students

1. Wider exposure to the language

Technology increases the students’ opportunity for authentic interaction with native speakers and other language learners at various levels within or outside the classroom. Practice leads to perfection and technology-rich language learning makes it possible. 

2. Higher motivation and attention

Transforming from passive recipients to active learners, students might feel very excited about language learning and are motivated to practice more, using devices with which they can practice a language through features such as voice recognition and interactive multimedia exercises, etc.

3. Flexible learning

Much more freedom is given to students within the classroom to decide how they approach the language and choose when and where to learn outside the classroom. Self-decision making and individual responsibility-taking stimulate more profound and enriching linguistic immersion.

Ways to integrate technology with language teaching

Teachers are expected to be technologically literate and integrate pedagogical knowledge and skills with technology for a more effective outcome. Tips include:

  • Language software solutions (eg: https://sanako.com/#) to enhance students’ four skills (speaking, listening, reading, writing)
  • PowerPoint presentations 
  • Creative use of interactive whiteboards 
  • Appropriate use of images, videos, and films
  • Allow students’ usage of mobile and handheld devices 
  • Collaborative online tools such as Google Docs and Wikis
  •  Electronic portfolio assessment 

Example of software solutions in teaching the four skills (LSRW).

Pronunciation and speaking skills

Learning how to pronounce is a key starting point of language learning. Displaying video clips for students could provide detailed guidelines (with pictures) that show how to move their tongue and jaw in the right way to produce a certain sound. Speech recognition technology will help students correctly pronounce common words and phrases and they will receive feedback on the right way to move the lips and tongue to get the sounds just right. 

Apart from allowing the individual practice, software solutions can group students in pairs for spoken interaction and make communication more productive. Hence, teachers can manage language class more effectively and allow students to invest more time into speaking and activity learning.

Sanako product: Pronounce (student working in computer class)

Listening skills

Teachers can launch a wide range of graded listening resources specifically designed for L2 learners to improve listening skills. A number of available websites and authentic listening materials such as TED talks and news broadcasts could be utilized based on what students already learned and their interests. Every learner has a truly personalized experience even if they are learning the same topic.

Reading skills

Reading comprehension requires the mastery of fundamentals, language, and higher-level thinking skills. Teachers could select available materials, from those for vocabulary building to those for test preparation, so as to improve students’ reading comprehension step by step. Software solutions keep track of students’ progress which improves their awareness of  their weaknesses and strengths and, thus, provides tailored reading texts for boosting specific skills.

Writing skills

Software could function to brainstorm and visualize students’ ideas, organize their information sequentially, and more. Editing tools (such as Grammarly) automatically check everything students type, making it easy to spot and fix errors quickly. Blogs enable students to create more expressive personal writing or to peer review when revising shared drafts of written work. All available software solutions can be effectively employed to progress students’ writing skills.

Conclusion 

Traditional education does not function adequately anymore and teachers need to more than ever integrate technology within the classroom because of its great benefits for language teaching and learning. The tips and examples aforementioned should help teachers be technologically literate and design a more effective teaching class for advancing the four skills.

References

Alqahtani A. (2019). The use of technology in English language teaching. Frontiers in Education Technology., 2(3). DOI:10.22158/fet.v2n3p168

EdStaff (2018, February, 12). What Is a Modern Learning Environment? https://edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2018/02/what-modern-learning-environment

Richards, J. C. (2015). Technology in Language Teaching Today. Indonesia Journal of English Language Teaching, 10(1), 18-32.

By Zhenzhen Gu-Student Language Ambassador

If you’re a language teacher and feeling inspired to integrate technology into your teaching, take a look at our Language Ambassadors Program

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