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Computer Assisted Language Learning English Language Essay

This unit is divided into two main sources of technology concordance and hot potatoes application and the other part is using sources and links from Clarity of the rationale for undertaking the project and clarity of goals. This project involves the integration (Reference) of technologies with language learning and teaching. This integration produces a unit for language teaching and learning which uses current technologies tools and resources. This unit is required because currently my teaching context requires improvement to the materials that are being used currently. This is because most of the materials used are outdated and the main source are only the text books. For this reason I came up with this project to scaffold the language teaching and learning in my teaching context by integrating technologies into this unit.

This project will also enable the students to use authentic materials for their language learning. Reference of the importance of authentic materials in language learning. Updated materials with current issues are important to ensure the effectiveness of the language learning.

As a business student there are many skills that they need to acquire in language learning. The four main language skills are writing, speaking, reading and listening. However for this unit, the writing skill is being focused because there are many different types of writing business correspondence such as memos, faxes, formal business letter, electronic mail (E-mail) etc.

This unit will focus on writing formal business letter and using E-mail to send it.(Reference in Levy about using email for writing letters).

Goal

The goal is to ensure students can use suitable vocabularies in sentences for writing various types of business correspondence for different business purposes or contexts in an autonomous learning environment.

Thus the technologies approach that has been identified for this unit is using Concordancer Software Version 6.0-22-01 and Hot Potatoes Application Version 6.0

The rationale behind using these tools is for the following reasons:

Concordancer:

This software will enable the students to analyze sentences according to the context and make selection. This will establish autonomous learning because they decide on their own learning which is stated by _______Reference about learner autonomy

Concordancer will provide hands-on experience for the students where they will be more satisfied and motivated to carry on with the language learning. Thus the concordancer will give them motivation to learn something new but in the same time they are provided some assistance virtually.

Hot Potatoes

This application enables various sources to be orchestrated together in one single application. For example an exercise with an audio file or video which can be played at the same time given the task. Thus time of preparing the audio and video equipments for language task can be saved and language learning can take place effectively.

The affordance of these tools can be seen clearly where they provide an environment for the user to experience effective language learning. The concordancer can be used as a resource to produce effective writing. It provides list of vocabularies which can be used by the learner according to various contexts.

The Hot Potatoes application can be used to generate exercises for the student. It enables spontaneous feedback for student to analyse their answers and make correction. This application can be used and modified for students with different level of proficiency.

These technologies are chosen for this project in order to overcome the weaknesses in the current materials and sources used for language teaching and learning. This is because the current materials does not have huge list of vocabularies for student to choose from. Student need to find other sources like newspaper, dictionaries etc to come up with vocabularies to help them in writing. However this will involve a lot of preparation time for the teacher and the learner themselves.

The current teaching methods do not allow fast feedback to be given to the students. The traditional teaching method will involve two to three days depending on the task given, for the teacher to give feedback to the students. This involves time factor and could effect the students’ motivation in learning

Quality of preparation (including theory, pedagogy, matching activities with goals)

Start with quality of preparation (Reference).

In order to make sure that the tasks for the particular unit are effective, there are several preparation need to be taken

Training

The teaching and learning process need to be reorganized in terms of providing training for the teachers, students and reorganizing the classes schedule. Hillier (1990) stated that before integrating technologies into the task, training need to be given to the teachers, students as well as rescheduling the class.

To ensure the teaching and learning is effective the teacher would also need some training if the unit design is new. Some teachers may not understand how the integration takes place and how does the learning outcome achieved. Giving training for these teachers would ensure the unit to be operationalised effectively.

Teachers must also know their student abilities and limitations. This is because students comes from various background and knowledge therefore the teacher need to determine what type of training that they need to provide for these learners to move on from their current abilities (Levy and Stockwell, 2006 p. 193). This is because for novice learner using technologies might be difficult compared to the advanced learner who already has the skills.

Affordances

The technologies chose are suitable with my teaching context because both concordancers and hot potatoes can elicit the writing skill as this is the goal of the unit designed (Levy and Stockwell, 2006 p. 191).

Principles and methods of interaction

The principle behind using technology and embedding it into the activities is to see to what extent that a learner can ‘communicate’ effectively with the technologies provided in the unit that has been designed for them. However for this to happen effectively teacher need to explain clearly the function of these technologies and why and how it is used for the unit. Appendix shows how these explanations are done and in Appendix shows how eventually the students carry out the task.

On the other hand the methods of interaction used is very significant in the initial stage for the learners to understand the type of response that the task requires from them. In this unit for example there are three links included in the Hot Potatoes application as a means to communicate the background and purpose of the unit and task appendix . This unit has been designed with the help from the internet sources a web site : Centre for Independent Language Learning (http://elc.polyu.edu.hk/CILL/eiw/adjustmentletters.htm). There are four main of  sources extracted from the following website (http://elc.polyu.edu.hk/CILL/eiw/adjustmentletters.htm) for the particular reasons:

The diagram in appendix      shows clear cohesion of ideas with subtitles to be used to construct sentences to convey important messages. This diagram is suitable to be used as an introduction for the unit because it provides only important details that are required for the reply to complaint letter. However it has been modified for a better understanding by highlighting option A and B , answer type 1 and 2. The rationale behind this amendment is to give more options for student to work with because they can make their own selection to carry out the task which would lead to autonomous learning. In addition to that this differences is not highlighted clearly by the current diagram.

The example of reply letter to complaint is provided in appendix   .It provides sentences which have their own functions in conveying certain messages. However there are certain amendments made to it because the current example in the web site does not provide paragraph for some aspects highlighted in the diagram.

The matching task provided in this website is suitable to be included in the Hot Potatoes application as shown in (appendix ).  This is because it the task directly links to the diagram and example that has been provided which will make the learning more effective. Learner will be more focus on what they need to do and process being exposed with step 1 and 2 will facilitate their understanding about the unit

Another link which is useful is the feedback which is given for the learner to evaluate their writing. This link is known as “Adjustment letter practice task”. This link enables the learner to submit completed letter and get immediate feedback. It is suitable to be used in my teaching context because it enhance autonomous learning where the students can use the feedback given to make further improvement with least guidance from the teacher. The advantage of using this link is it could be used outside of the classroom at anytime.

Therefore these diagram, task, example and link are very useful sources and suitable to be included in this unit. The diagram and link are included in the Hot Potatoes application as a part for the learners to get an understanding about the unit before they start doing the task. However these four sources have been amended according to my teaching context and extra information have been included especially in the example of the reply letter to complaint as shown in Appendix  . This extra information is included because the example letter provided in the web site do not have sufficient example for each step in dealing with customer complaints as shown in the diagram. To establish deeper understanding on the function of each steps mentioned in the diagram, there is a necessity to change the current example letter provided.

Activities

One of the activities in the task provided is using the Concordancer link where learner can search for suitable context where the students can choose and use the words identified by the concordancer to their language task. This activity is suitable for writing an e-mail, business letters, faxes and memo.

Thus with concordancer the students can use same words in different context. They can convey message clearly and accurately through writing effectively. Their writing skill will also improve.

Meanwhile Hot Potatoes enables more vocabularies to be learned in specific context. Student can type words in the exercise given. Once completed, they can know whether they have done it correctly or not by the immediate feedback given by the application. This enables them to improve their writing skill by differentiating words in different context and for different purpose.

The You Tube video which is embedded in the Hot Potatoes application enables the learner to get an overview on effective writing skill. The information given will help the learner to have prior knowledge about the writing skill that they should have before starting to write one.

The goal of this unit is clearly achievable through these technologies. The activities above explicitly show how the writing skill can be improved and developed in my teaching context

There are two ways which a student can save the file namely in a hard-disk or in a memory stick.

Clarity and quality of design (unit structure or program architecture; functional design; choice of technology)

The unit is designed to promote autonomous learning as part of the process in achieving the goal set. Thus the involvement of teacher will be very less in the structure of the unit and the learner will need to rely on the sources provided in Hot Potatoes. This is to create an e-learning environment in a language laboratory. Therefore the unit has been structured with the following functions supported by the technology chosen.

Introduction

The introduction part has been divided into two parts:

Part 1:

Introduction on the topic

The topic for the unit is “Writing a Reply Letter to Customer Complaint”. In order for the learner to understand the unit, teacher will ask the learner to open an application called ‘Hot Potatoes’ and watch a video embedded in it which is a You Tube video on “Effective Writing Skills’. The function of this video is to explain clearly on techniques to be followed before the learner starts to write the letter. The video also provides examples of good and bad style of writing which will be very helpful for a novice learner.

Introduction on technologies used

The teacher will give some basic information about the functions of the concordance software and the Hot Potatoes application. This is to ensure that the learner will understand on the basic functions of these technologies in order to achieve the learning outcome from the unit.

Pedagogy

Learner will open Hot Potatoes application and follow the instruction given. It is expected that at this stage the learner can do the task given without consulting the teacher. In the Hot Potatoes application, all the instructions are ensured to be clear and many links are also provided to scaffold the process of implementing the task given.

Technologies chosen:

Hot Potatoes:

This application is used in this unit as it is very user friendly and enables many links to be embedded in. The function of this application is to give information as well as being used to implement task given. The application also gives many options to be selected in the configuration screen in order to present the task and information on the web page such as appearance, timer, titles and instruction.

Concordancer Version 0.6-22-01- Business Letter Corpus

This software is open source software, which means any user can use it for free. The software is chosen for this unit because it enables the user to type any key word in the ‘search string key’ which will produce a list of key word in various contexts. The concordance produces a list of corpus which can be chosen from such as Business Letter Corpus, Personal Letter Corpus etc. However for this unit the Business Letter Corpus is chosen because one of its main functions is to help learner build sentences with examples of key words highlighted with various contexts.

Students can save the result of the concordance analysis or print it for future revision either for self evaluation or further improvement. Thus, this can also promote autonomous or independence learning (Blin 1999, 2004).Reference for students to make self evaluation using technologies Levy chapter?

Appropriateness of the proposed development method

This unit is developed for commerce students in Polytechnic Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah, Malaysia. These students are in the intermediate to advanced level of proficiency. Their background as a non-native speakers and average technologies user require a non-difficult task being integrated with simple technologies. The implementation of this unit can be done in the polytechnics’ language laboratory

Appropriateness of the proposed evaluation method, limitations and risks

Prior to implementing this unit the compatibility of the computers with the current application and software need to be checked and test run need to be conducted.

However the limitations that will be faced in the process of implementing this unit will be as follows:

Financial constraint

Currently,the institution have limited numbers of personal computers in the language laboratory. In order to operationalise this unit, the learners need to have one personal computers to be working on with. However due to financial constraint, the learners may need to share the persona computers in group of three or four learners.

Information technology knowledge

There are many students from various background are studying currently in this institution. The chance of having learners with none or least knowledge in information technology is there. Hence, the teacher need to ensure that these group of learners being trained or exposed with the basic information technology skills before pursuing with the unit

Similarly some of the teachers are not well versed in information technology. For this reason, there could be a necessity to train these group of teachers with the basic information technology skills to avoid any complication during this unit phase of implementation.

Time Constraint

Time is another factor that needs to be considered prior implementing this unit. The current teacher-student meeting time may not be sufficient enough due to many activities in the class. However separate time could be allocated and rescheduling the class may be necessary in this case.

Risk

Language laboratory is one of significant place for language teaching and learning to take place. However the language laboratory is also exposed with many threats like misuse and vandalism. To avoid these risks, routine surveillance made by the teacher is required.


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