Oct 22, 2012
[ELTeCS_PERU] Blending New Technologies with Traditional Methods: The Key to Success in Second-Language Classrooms
Andean Region RELO posted: "What is the best way to learn a second language in a classroom setting? The answer to this question is actually much more complex than one might expect.The reason is that there are several factors outside of a teacher’s control that dictate language-lea" Respond to this post by replying above this line
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Blending New Technologies with Traditional Methods: The Key to Success in Second-Language Classrooms
by Andean Region RELO
What is the best way to learn a second language in a classroom setting? The answer to this question is actually much more complex than one might expect.
The reason is that there are several factors outside of a teacher’s control that dictate language-learning success. For fluency to be achieved, a student must be truly interested and committed to learning a new language. However, the foundation for success is the teacher’s responsibility, and the best foundation (or curriculum) is one that uses a variety of learning techniques.
There are many new technologies being used to teach language. These technologies do help students learn, but they must not be used as a replacement to traditional language-learning methods. Instead, these new technologies must be blended with older methods as an enhancement to the classroom, allowing students to gain a better understanding with additional practice through different exercises.
According to the online language-learning resource, Omniglot.com, small children are like sponges and can learn a new language through simple image recall and listening practices. Teenagers and adults only learn with more stimulation through listening practices, image recall, reading and writing exercises and cultural immersion. All age groups benefit from practicing dialogue with their instructor and peers.
Although most computer programs, DVDs and CDs include audio that allows students to listen to and repeat the language, they must be used in conjunction with regular classroom conversation. After all, the main purpose of language is to communicate through speech with others. If this component of the learning process is left out, or sparsely used, students will fail to gain the skills needed to actually speak the language outside of the classroom.
In fact, this is a common outcome for many second-language students. In the classroom, they are asked to watch videos, listen to tapes, memorize words and grammar and write sentences, but they rarely engage in deep, meaningful dialogue with their peers and instructor. Some instructors also further hinder the process by not speaking in the second-language during class.
The result is that students learn how to read and write a language, but they cannot recognize the language when it is spoken to them, nor can they carry out a conversation. This approach isn’t necessarily a failure, since students did learn the language to an extent. However, it leaves the students with an incomplete grasp of the language.
It is possible to teach students how to speak, read and write a language, all at once, but success is more likely if technology is used in tandem with traditional speech practice. Dialogue should be natural and useful, requiring students to let down their guards and not be afraid to fail at first. Teachers must also be “tough” on students, pushing them to always use the second language in class for all communication purposes. The classroom must be a place where they sacrifice their first language for a time to fully engage in learning the new language.
In terms of viable technologies, the following list of websites and language computer programs can be used in the classroom to enhance the learning experience:
BBC.co.uk/languages: A free, comprehensive guide to learning the most common world languages.
Language Course Podcasts: These language courses are delivered in podcast format. The most popular source for language course podcasts is the online iTunes Store at Apple.com. Some courses are free, others charge a downloading fee.
VistaHigherLearning.com: A popular resource for French, German, Italian and Spanish teaching material. Each textbook comes with an interactive DVD and prices vary.
RosettaStone.com: One of the most popular computer programs for learning a new language. The website includes a section for both traditional classroom learning and homeschooling. Prices vary.
LiveMocha.com: The world’s largest online language learning community. Users pay a fee to gain access to course content, which includes reading, writing and listening practice.
Skype in the Classroom: With a Skype account, teachers can connect their classrooms to other classrooms or teaching professionals who speak the language they are learning; a great resource for practicing dialogue.
Although these and other language learning technologies can enhance a student’s learning experience, classroom teachers are still important for providing one-on-one guidance and natural, face-to-face dialogue practice.
KatherynRivas is a freelance writer and blogger who has contributed articles to numerous education resource websites. Covering topics that range from education, technology, career advice and college preparation, Katheryn works hard to research the facts about recent education news and trends to help her readers make the best decisions for their schooling and careers. Please direct your questions and comments to her at KatherynRivas87@gmail.com.
Andean Region RELO
October 22, 2012 at 9:33 am