TESOL Viewpoint brings alumni essays on teaching English as a second language. This viewpoint focuses on technology and TESOL.
It is no doubt that most people are afraid to change. However, it was once said, “the only thing unchanged is change itself,” which I find quite true. People need to try and better themselves, adjust, and adopt to new things, no matter if they want to or not. It is the same when talking about teaching English to speakers of other languages. Students are different nowadays. They are greatly exposed to new inventions and technologies. Therefore, if teachers stick to the traditional ways of teaching, and do not change at all, eventually they will be eliminated, if not completely, at least to a certain degree.
Technology plays an important role in modern life. It has an impact on almost every field of life, and it influences teaching to a high degree. Traditionally, teachers use only blackboards and/or video cassettes to teach English. Students might just get bored by the teacher’s flat voice and tedious materials. However, with teachers applying technology, lessons can become very interesting and attractive to students. As a result, students are better motivated, and thus show more energy in the classroom, as well as in self-study. But, what technology are we talking about? This essay will describe some technologies that teachers can adopt for their teaching. Besides, some advantages and disadvantages of applying technology into English teaching will be shortly discussed as well.
Examples of Technology Used in English Teaching
PowerPoint is a great tool for teachers to present the materials because it has animations, and students like those special effects better than those boring black and white handouts. On the other hands, students can also use this powerful tool to do their projects and presentations.
- Short and authentic video:
Teachers can find thousands of short and real-life videos on internet, such as YouTube. Students will be interested in these videos, providing the topic and content is well chosen and fits students’ language ability. Of course, some questions or quiz for students’ further discussion should be prepared by teachers beforehand so that students know that they are not listening for nothing.
- Email, weblog & discussion forum:
All these are great platforms for students to interact with the teacher. Specifically, the quick response, feedback or assessment from the teacher via these ways encourages students to learn and write. Under this circumstance, teachers are not only teachers in the classroom, but also outside the classroom, which also brings teachers and students closer.
- On-Line Lecture:
Students’ English level might vary a bit even in the same class. In this case, on-line lectures made by the teacher might be a good way for students to study at home and catch up with other students.
- Interactive Whiteboard:
This provides ways to show students anything which can be presented on a computer’s desktop. Therefore, students can make direct interaction with the teacher in class, which is something the traditional blackboard or whiteboard cannot achieve. In addition, similar to on-line lecture, the interactive whiteboard allows teachers to record their instruction and post the material for review by students at a later time.
There are still many other technical ways or tools which teachers can adopt to make their teaching easier, more effective, interactive and attractive to students. Teachers should evaluate them carefully, and choose those which fit teachers and students the best.
Advantage of Using Technology in English Teaching
- Increase opportunities for students to interact with the teacher and other students
- Satisfy students’ individual demands of English learning
- Increase students’ motivation to learn the language
- Provide quick or even immediate response both from the teacher and students.
- Monitoring students’ learning progress becomes easier
Disadvantage of Using Technology in English Teaching
- More expensive
- Both teacher and students need to learn extra computer skills and the required technology, which is good but sometimes can also be a barrier for both parties
- Students might lose chances to interact with people, providing they focus too much on computers at home.
Technology or CALL (Computer-Assisted-Language-Learning) is meant to supplement face-to-face language instruction, but not to replace it. Therefore, I believe that teachers shouldn’t get rid of traditional blackboards. In the future, I will try to combine using technology and blackboards properly and efficiently, because some students now lack the ability to calculate simple figures. This is because technology is abused by some teachers and students. When a teacher cares only about how to use calculators or computers, the importance of students’ mental development will be jeopardized. Furthermore, technology will become a disadvantage for some students who cannot afford computers at home. In this case, to be familiar with technology is just something difficult and frustrating for the student. Therefore, although technology does help with TESOL to a certain degree, teachers should take all students into consideration during the process of deciding what technology to adopt and help with their English class.