Current Trends In Language Teaching And Application Of Communication Technologies

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Our society, best described by the term hectic knowledge society is undergoing tremendous changes imposing challenges which need to be met not just by business and industry but even more so by educational institutions at all levels. A principled approach is needed in order to translate the potential of new technologies (ICT) into new methodological approaches and changing organisational frameworks for the learning and acquisition of any subject. New technologies pose many challenges but the greatest one is imposed by ICT pedagogical implementation. Reviewing the constantly growing mix of technology based materials may assume a variety of titles such as BILL, CALL, MAL, TELL, E-learning, CMC but all of them in their essence are active, authentic, cooperative tools for student centered, self-paced accelerated learning. No matter the outer form (websites, information on line, Skype, chat, YouTube) the final result is actively using ICT as part of the language learning process, and it calls for the teacher to organize and monitor them. ICT has the greatest potential to act as a catalyst for change if the ICT strategy is integrated into the overall educational strategy. The pedagogical application of ICT twins into the main topic of permanent discussion in educational issues, such as:

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1. Selection of educational format and medium after the learning objectives;

2. Constructivism the most appropriate paradigm for language learning as self-structured and self-motivated process of knowledge construction where learner is regarded as a self-governed creator of knowledge. In conclusion it could be said that ICT development definitely remodels the whole education system, causing a shift in the educational paradigm.

3. Teacher s role within E-learning to synchronize and synergize the power of ICT tools

4. Focus on developing learner autonomy leads learners to have insights into one s learning styles and strategies.

ICT can be used in many different ways and how it is integrated into educational settings depends largely on teacher s instructional goals and strategies. Changes in educational goals have created changes in the teacher s use of technology.

Fresh example is in 1980s the goal of instruction was to have students memorize important information. Instruction was teacher-led and dominated by lectures, worksheets, short answer tests. Students consulted parents, teachers and textbooks.

Today students solving real problems view their efforts as real work and have a sense of purpose and value. Thus organizing instruction around problem solving imposes new elements on teachers.

The social dynamics of the 21st century along with industrialization and globalization processes of 20th centuries changed the conception of literacy from a mode of self-expression to a set of skills necessary to function in modern society; skills related to the use of technology in the communication process.

The evolutionary stages, literacy undergoes, paralleling the stages of societal development, raises the question of responsibility of educators to account on for this development and implement new trends into an educational model.

The 21st century literacy is a multilayered construct where language learning and intercultural competencies are of extreme importance for living and working in the knowledge society. World Wide Web brings seemingly endless amount of information on almost any subject. Traditional library research is substituted by Internet search in which students gather and synthesize information from published reports, where inaccurate or biased information is very likely to appear too. Interaction with peers from other countries, feedback through ICT suggest that teachers are familiar with ICT tools and materials on the subject they teach.

Neither the computer nor the WWW is meant to replace instructors, but technology can provide a myriad of benefits.

In conclusion we can summarize that the use of computer in and of itself does not constitute a teaching method, but rather the computer pushes pedagogy to develop in new ways that exploit the benefits of the computer and that work around its limitations. To exploit the computers potential we need language teaching specialists who can promote a complementary relationship between computer technology and appropriate pedagogic programs.

CALL is a symbol of a symbiotic relationship between the development of technology and pedagogy.

In principle the computer remains forever a medium in which a variety of methods, approaches and pedagogical philosophies may be implemented. However the effectiveness of CALL cannot reside in the medium itself but only in how it is put to use. Each stage in CALL development corresponds to a certain level of technology and certain pedagogical theories

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A. In behaviorist CALL computer serves as a vehicle

B. In communicative CALL emphasis is placed on the rationale why CALL should build on intrinsic motivation and should foster interactivity

C. In integrative CALL computer serves as a medium for extending education beyond the classroom.

Not only can the Multimedia and the Internet facilitate the integrative CALL. What makes multimedia even more powerful is that it also entails hypermedia.

The latest trend toward integrative CALL is the Internet application to FLL.

The so-called CMC is probably the single computer application to date with the greatest impact on language teaching.

A leading tendency is now being observed that students tend to spend more time on assignments when on the computer. More time is frequently cited as a factor in achievement. Computer is adapting learning to the student which means that the student controls the pace of the learning but also means that the student chooses what and how to learn. Such control makes students feel more competent in their learning. Availability and ability of technology predetermines its limitations lack of unified theoretical framework for designing and evaluating CALL systems as well as absence of conclusive and empirical evidence for the pedagogical benefits of computers in language. Technology is regarded as a panacea especially by educators, and the human element in dispensary to make it beneficial (the teacher as mediator) is actually ignored under the present circumstances. It is of vital importance to teach students how to learn by themselves and develop the capacity to practice self-evaluation and enhanced entrancing motivation.

In a language learning classroom teachers often have to provide repeated practice to meet important objectives but this can be boring, painful and frustrating. Therefore many students loose interest and motivation to learn foreign language. Using CALL the students learn the language in more attractive ways through games, animated graphics, problem-solving techniques. As a result even tedious drills become more interesting. In fact CALL motivates students to go beyond the point of initial mastery and practice activity until they become automatic. (Warschauer 1996)

The world of CALL is changing rapidly but there are 3 major trends that can be perceived as significant to language teaching and learning and likely to remain so over the next years: convergence, searchability, collaboration.

In the issue, world wide many countries are making the creation and diffusion on ICT an important priority. Even in developing countries ICT usage is increasing dramatically. As ICT becomes more widely available, teachers are turning their attention to the difficult task of understanding to what extent and how best to integrate this technology into teaching and learning environment. In conclusion the pathfinder in the jungle of modern technologies applied to pedagogy is undoubtedly the teacher, for technology is always improving and every day we get surprised by new devices. Hence it is difficult to list the latest events in ICT. However it is the teacher who remains forever the humane mediator acting both as pedagogic innovator and technology interpreter in the life-long learning process.