Technology has taken over most areas of our lives including schools. Specifically, the arrival of the internet changed the way that language is taught thanks to the possibility of communicating throughout the world and because of the many sources online. This essay will deal with different aspects of computers and internet in the process of teaching and learning English as a foreign language (EFL). First, I will give examples of different technological tools that can be used to teach a language. Second, I will present the advantages of using technology for learning different aspects of a language. Then, I will present the disadvantages of technology. Finally, I will provide recommendations for teachers regarding the use of technology in the EFL classroom. I chose this subject since I have worked in the Hi-Tech industry for over a decade and I am interested in applying the Hi-Tech resources to help my students the best way I can. I believe that nowadays technology is the most essential element in our lives, and is a great tool to use in the EFL classroom.
Technology includes computers, software programs, internet, video players, overhead projectors and data show projectors, as well as multimedia (texts, films, video, audio, animation, and graphics). Since students need to experience the language in every aspect possible, technology can be an effective tool to teach languages including EFL. This is important because in the early 80s, Howard Gardner proposed the theory of multiple intelligences. He stated that each student is unique and learns in a different ways. Today, various tools and applications of technology can be used in multiple ways in the EFL classroom regardless of the students’ level or the subject taught. It can provide opportunities that address individual student learning and meet the different learning styles. Language learning and teaching is enabled by the many sources of materials that students can use.
First, the internet enables teachers to bring different cultures into the classroom, which is an important element in language learning and teaching. For some tasks, such as listening exercises, computers have advantages over traditional approaches because they provide sound as well as visual input that helps students with contextual clues. Second, a variety of software programs allows students to practice vocabulary, reading, listening comprehension, grammar, and speaking skills. An environment rich with language: “allows the students to interact with each other so that learning through communication can occur” (Liaw, 1997, in Patel, 2013). The computer with its different learning strategies and games constitutes an attractive kind of teaching.
Third, Case and Truscott (1999, in Green, 2003), report that the independence the students acquire while working on a computer pushes them to read from simple to complex texts since it addresses their personal needs. Most students find it easier to approach a writing task on the computer because it is more enjoyable. One reason is the use of graphics and dictionaries available online that help them write more confidently. Moreover, the use of e-mail is a way to encourage students to write in a new language. According to Trenchs (1996, in Green, 2003), students use e-mails, willingly because they don’t feel forced to do so and because they know they are not being graded. The lack of pressure encourages students to share information while doing so in a foreign language. In addition, the use of e-mailing is an excellent tool to improve writing skills as well as vocabulary acquisition.
The computer and internet have become the main means for communication on a worldwide level and since communication is considered an excellent tool for promoting language learning, technology is welcomed in the EFL classroom. The students have the opportunity to communicate freely without a time limit or social concerns. Even the weaker students are able to take an active part in class and communicate confidently with their teachers through e-mails.
In spite of the importance and effectiveness of technology, when teaching and learning EFL in concerned, there are some disadvantages. First, the computer can be an overwhelming and imposing instrument for both students and teachers. The complexity of the computer possibilities may cause frustration, as students and teachers spend a lot of time struggling and trying to understand how to use it. The search for suitable materials is also time consuming and can be very exhausting. In addition Colaric and Jonassen (2003 in Morgan, 2008) warn teachers from the “vast library”.
In other words, the search for information and hyper-linking may be a distraction from the learning process. An additional disadvantage is the teachers’ lack of computer skills and technical knowledge. This usually leads to a complete waste of time in class and adds to both teachers and students’ confusion. Finally, the cost of maintenance is another disadvantage of using technology, especially in schools. So, unless the teacher is well trained in technology, and can solve problems that might occur, a technician will be needed. Schools usually find it difficult to support the purchased technology, and that makes them useless.
Hence, in order to turn technology into a teaching strategy, teachers need to be encouraged to acquire the necessary skills in using technology to help improve their teaching. In addition teachers need to be aware of the importance of technology in enhancing learning in the EFL classroom. Once teachers and students learn how to make responsible use of computers, and master the skill of selecting and editing the large range of information for their purposes, language acquisition will become easier.
To conclude, having given examples of different technological tools that can be used to teach a language. Then, presented the advantages and disadvantages of using technology in the EFL classroom and finally provided recommendations for teachers regarding the use of technology, it can be said that technology, specifically computers and the internet, has many benefits for language learning when it is used correctly. Teachers can use it to improve the learning environment and the students’ vocabulary as well as reading, listening, and speaking skills.
Also, technology in the EFL classroom offers students a range of information, motivation to learn and an enhanced quality of class work. This essay has also shown the disadvantages of using technology when teachers and students do not know how to handle it moderately and wisely. It is extremely important to remember that technology is a great tool in the EFL classroom, but it cannot replace the teacher.
1.Case, C. and Truscott, D. (1999). Using Technology to Help ESL/EFL Students Develop Language Skills. In: Green, (2003). 2.Green, T. (2003).
Using Technology to Help ESL/EFL Students Develop Language Skills. http://iteslj.org/Articles/Ybarra-Technology.html/26.4.2013. 3.Liaw, M.L. (1997). Computer Network Technology-A Facilitator in English Language Teaching& Learning. In: Patel, S.D. (2013). 4.Morgan, M. (2008). More Productive Use of Technology in the ESL/EFL Classroom. http://iteslj.org/Articles/Morgan-Technology.html./26.4.2013. 5.Patel, S.D. (2013). Computer Network Technology-A Facilitator in English Language Teaching& Learning. https://sites.google.com/site/journaloftechnologyforelt/archive/3-2-april-2013/2-computer-network-technology-a-facilitator-in-english-language-teaching-learning./ 26.4.2013 6.Trenchs, M. (1996). Using Technology to Help ESL/EFL Students Develop Language Skills. In: Green, (2003).