Foreign And Second Languages Education Essay

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A foreign language, in a particular country or region, is a language which is not the local language of the inhabitants and which is not language of instruction in educational institutions. A foreign language is one that is not extensively used as a communication language in politics and the media of that particular country or region. The foreign languages are usually taught in schools mainly for communication purposes with foreigners or to be able to read materials in this language (Richards and Schmidt, 2002).

On the other hand, Rod Ellis explained the term second language as follow:

" "Second" can refer to any language that is learned subsequently to the mother tongue. Thus it can refer to the learning of a third or fourth language. Also "second" is not intended to contrast with "foreign". Whether you are learning a language naturally as a result of living in a country where it is spoken, or learning it in a classroom through instruction, it is customary to speak generically of "second" language acquisition."

However Richards and Schmidt pointed out that, in difference to a foreign language, a second language is one which plays a significant role in the region or country even if it is not the first language of the inhabitants. Examples are the learning of English by immigrants in the US, learning Catalan by Spanish living in Catalonia or learning English in countries like Nigeria, India or Singapore where English is widely used for official purposes.



The study of foreign language is not a new phenomenon. It has always existed in the annals of history as a necessity for human subsistence. But nowadays it has taken a new dimension powered by the aftermaths of the industrial revolution through the process of globalization refers to the series of changes in transport and communication caused by the industrial revolution (Richmond, 2002).

But according to Ambirajan (2000) it means intermeshing and integration in broad terms, and from this perspective it has existed since ancient times. However in the modern world globalization, driven by technology, has a greater impact on economic integration.

Although globalization affects mainly the economic arena, it encompasses various fields of life ranging from political activities, communication network, military forces, environmental policies and culture (Siriwaiprapan, 2004). All these different forms of globalization require a certain degree of cultural uniformity to facilitate the whole process.

Language is the vehicle of cultural identity. The impact of globalization on world languages cannot be denied. From one angle it has been accused as a new type of 'colonization' which is murdering world's oral languages via media and educational systems (skutnabb-kangas, 2011). But from another point of view globalization has nurtured a growing need to study international languages, also referred as functional languages, as a mean to remove language barriers and to ease communication network and internal knowledge flow within the multinational corporations (Luo and Shenkar, 2006).

In this vein language is now referred as a new form of human capital which empowers the labor force and ensures economic progress (Williams, 2011)

New concepts have recently emerged to boost and shape the process of learning foreign languages besides the native language. One of them is the multiple language usage described by Williams (2011) as an investment in human capital to upgrade the efficiency of the man-power force. Another opinion states that study of foreign language is important for professional development in the dynamic world of technology (Cismas, 2010). Global language design is another offspring of globalization in order to serve the corporate world in a better way by enhancing communication and coordination (Bloch, 1995). Finally the presence of several languages in a society of multinational companies known as "multilingualism" necessitates a systematic language planning and adaptation of the educational systems to foster a multi-lingual environment for the thorough development of all the languages (Darquennes and Nelde, 2008).



The nativist theory looks at the linguistic characteristic of language acquisition and it explains the rationale behind how people acquire a second language. The word nativist "is derived from the fundamental assertion that language acquisition is innately determined, that we are born with a built-in device of some kind that predisposes us to language acquisition." (Brown 1973).

In 1965, the linguist Noam Chomsky, put forward the theory that every human being has an "innate, biological ability" for language acquisition. He hypothesize that every people is born with a Language Acquisition Device (LAD), a kind of "neurological wiring" that, in any case of language acquisition, permits the learner to listen to a language, to interpret the language's system, and to start generating within that language at a very early stage of life.


The nativist theory does not take much into consideration the environmental factors which can also have an impact on language learning. Environmentalists propose that social and psychological factors are just as important as linguistic factors in acquiring a second language. The various environmental influences are considered to play a significant role in the acquisition of a second language. The main environmentalist theory is Schumann's "Acculturation Model," , which proposes that a social and a psychological distance between a learner and the target language group will have an impact on that individual's aptitude to become proficient in the target language. "Social distance refers to the social proximity of two cultures that come into contact with one other." The more dissociate the culture of the second language is, the more difficult the language learning will be. (Escamilla and Grassi 2000)

According to Schumann (1978), psychological distance comprises of three factors: culture shock, language shock, and motivation.

"Culture shock is the second stage of acculturation into a new society. The excitement and euphoria over the newness of the situation eventually wears off and the feeling that more and more cultural differences are intruding into the second language learner's own image of self and security arise. Language shock occurs when the target language is so different from the second language learner's own language that the learner passes through a "shock" period very similar to that of culture shock". (Escamilla and Grassi 2000)

These psychological factors, in addition to the social factors mentioned earlier, impact on an individual's aptitude to acquire a second language.


Various studies showed that the cognitive and the academic development in the first language have an extremely significant and positive outcome on second language acquisition. "Academic skills, literacy development, concept formation, subject knowledge, and learning strategies developed in the first language will all transfer to the second language." (Collier 1995)

However, the mother tongue may also be considered as a barrier to second language learning as it can cause interferences. (Chuming 2001)


Another important factor in language learning is motivation. According to Williams and Burden (1997), motivation is "a state of cognitive arousal" which provokes a decision to act as a result of which there is sustained intellectual and or physical effort so that the person can achieve some previously set goals.

Chand (1993) stated that burning interests is the best source of motivation. It has been argued that in the absence of interest and motivation, the best laboratories, the best teachers and the best books cannot make a student learn. All the facilities may be provided to the learner but all these will not make any difference if the learner is not interested, and also not motivated to learn. This is a vicious cycle whereby interests create motivation and motivation is one of the factors than can influence performance.

Studies carried out by Spolsky (1969) found that those who were generally motivated got higher score on proficiency tests in foreign language.

Another research, conducted by Gardner and associates (2003), investigated on the relationship between second language achievement and the five attitude variables from Gardner's socio-educational model (attitudes toward the learning situation, motivation, integrative orientation, and instrumental orientation). Two additional variables, availability of the language in the community and age level of the students, were also examined. The results clearly showed that the relationship between success and motivation are consistently higher than those between all the other variables.

On the whole, motivation in general is psychologically fundamental to acquire a second language. If the learner is unwillingly in the target culture and is not motivated at all in learning the target language, then proficiency is improbable. (Escamilla and Grassi 2000)


Teaching and learning strategies can be considered as important factors that influence performance. In fact they are based on various theories of learning. Piaget (1980) believed that humans learn through the construction of one logic structure after another. This implies that teaching and learning also need to be active. If we are to optimize the process of cognitive development itself, we should give students opportunities to try things out, experiment and discover things for themselves, to question, to discuss, to reflect and to solve problems for themselves. (Thomas and Collier 2001)

According to Thomas and Collier (2001), Instruction must meet the learners' developmental needs such as his linguistic, academic, cognitive, emotional, social and physical developmental needs. A natural learning environment should be created in school comprising of " lots of natural, rich language, both oral and written, used by students and teachers; meaningful, 'real world' problem-solving; all students working together; media-rich learning (video, computers, print); challenging thematic units that get and hold students' interest; and using students' bilingual-bicultural knowledge to bridge to new knowledge across the curriculum."

Bruce and Levin (1997) observed that the tools, techniques and applications of technology can support learning to facilitate learners in "exploring, thinking, reading, writing, researching, inventing, problem-solving, and experiencing the world". They further elaborated on the idea of technology as a media with four different applications:

1. Media for inquiry (Example: data modeling, spreadsheet, access to online databases, access to online observatories and microscopes and hypertext)

2. Media for communication (Example: word processing, e-mail, synchronous conferencing, graphics software, simulations, and tutorials),

3. Media for construction (Example: robotics, computer-aided design, and control systems)

4. Media for expression (Example: interactive video, animation software, and music composition)."

Marshall (2002) added that educational technology complements what a great teacher does naturally, extending their reach and broadening their students' experience beyond the classroom

In spite of all these, Nuttal (1996) stated that "The best way to improve your knowledge of a foreign language is to go and live among its speakers. The next best way is to read extensively in it."



The methodology of teaching foreign languages has evolved through a series of process, ranging from the classical grammar-translation method of the early nineteenth century to the new computer based learning of the twenty first century (Djigunovic and Krajnovic, 2005) (klimova,2005).

The advent of new technologies has considerably influenced the teaching and learning of foreign languages. However nowadays there are various modes of teaching foreign languages, namely:


It is an innovative method which focuses more on the practical application of foreign language in communication. The syllabus is centered on developing the learner's communicative skills (Djigunovic and krajnovic, 2005).


Task-based learning is an innovative approach to the classroom based learning. The role of the teacher is redefined as a facilitator to accompany the learners to attain set targets where language acquisition takes place (Hismanoglu, 2011).


This is a new technology which helps to practice face-to-face learning of foreign languages without having recourse to the internet. An experiment showed that it gained positive response from the students who easily accepted this new technology (Hubackova, 2011)


Computer-assisted language learning is a new trend to foster an e-learning environment which is conducive to reproduce some aspects of the linguistic environment of the foreign language. It provides a wide variety of platforms where foreign language learning can take place such as web 2.0, virtual classrooms, blogs and others (Wahl, Winiwarter and Quirchmayr, 2010)


The blended method combines the traditional face-to-face learning with online classrooms for the teaching of foreign language. It considers technology as an important tool to assist teachers in preparing their lessons but insists that the role of the teacher is vital for the learning process (Hubackova and Ruzickovam, 2010).


Distance learning courses via the internet are also used to teach foreign languages. Though these types of programs motivate the learners but still the cost is relatively high and face-to-face teaching and learning does not take place and this reduces the quality of learning (klimova, 2005)


The digital language laboratory is the latest trend in the teaching of foreign languages. It consists of specially designed technological kits for teachers and learners. This tool encourages assisted learning of the learners and creates a sound environment for the learning of the foreign language (Wagener, 2006)





The traditional economic courses define the pillars of an economy as land, labour, capital. However In this XXIst century Capron and Johnson (2004) had added a fourth key economic element in their book: technology.

Computer technologies have brought dramatical changes in the everyday lives of man and in so many aspects of our lives namely: the way of seeking information, the methods of doing research and the communication mediums we use to keep in touch with others throughout the world (Bobrati and Leka, 2011).

Sarencheh and Bigham (2010) have further added others aspects of our lives which has been affected by the technology namely : the management methods, the work-flow of organizations, the different way of entertainments and also the cognitive process of human being due to the huge bank of information available.

According to Jensen (1993), we are all certainly experiencing and facing a "monumental technological paradigm shift" and this will definitely bring changes in the teaching and learning process.


Pedler, Burgoyne and Boydell (1991) define the learning organisation as: "an organisation that facilitates the learning of all its members and continuously transforms itself in order to meet its strategic objectives." These changes and transformation have to be properly addressed to in order to achieve effectiveness, effectiveness and relevancy (Coldwell et al. 2007).

Kotter define Change management as the utilization of basic structures and tools to control any organizational change effort. Its goal is to minimize the change impact on people and avoid distractions (Ingholt and Rasidovic 2008).

There are many change theories and one of the famous is Kurt Lewin's three step theory. He theorized a three-stage model of change that has come to be known as the unfreezing-change-refreeze model. (Ross A. W. 2004)

The stability of human behavior is based on a quasi-stationary equilibrium and the first step of change is to destabilize, that is to unfreeze it. The second step is known as movement. Through this step it is essential to gradually shift the target system to a new stability.

The third step is to refreeze or stabilize the group at a new quasi-stationary equilibrium where the new behavior becomes habitual. (Kritsonis 2005)

Another well-known theory of change is the seven-step theory of Lippit, Watson and Westley (1958). This theory is actuality an extension of Lewin's theory. The steps are enumerated as follows: (Kristsonis 2005)

1. Diagnose the problem.

2. Assess the motivation and capacity for change.

3. Assess the resources and motivation of the change agent. This includes the change agent's commitment to change, power, and stamina.

4. Choose progressive change objects. In this step, action plans are developed and strategies are established.

5. The role of the change agents should be selected and clearly understood by all parties so that expectations are clear. Examples of roles are: cheerleader, facilitator, and expert.

6. Maintain the change. Communication, feedback, and group coordination are essential elements in this step of the change process.

7. Gradually terminate from the helping relationship. The change agent should gradually withdraw from their role over time. This will occur when the change becomes part of the organizational culture

Edgar Schein provided further detail for a more comprehensive model of change calling this approach "cognitive redefinition". He further "unpack" Lewin's model into 6 steps: (Ross A. Wirth 2004)


Induction of Guilt or Survival Anxiety

Creation of Psychological Safety or Overcoming of Learning Anxiety

Cognitive Redefinition

Imitation and Positive or Defensive Identification with a Role Model

Personal and Relational Refreezing (always provide learning opportunities)


Girgin (2010) talks about the integration of technology in the education sector in these words: "The contemporary advances in technology have been affecting the societies in many different aspects. There is no doubt that one very intensely affected side of social structure is education. There is a growing interest in online classroom settings in second language teaching"

In order to achieve meaningful learning, a student can make use of a computer as it has various educational functions (Muttaqin, 2010).

Education, as Marc Prensky (2001) states, " is the single largest problem facing the digital world as our Digital Immigrant instructors, who speak an outdated language (that of the pre-digital age), are struggling to teach a population that speaks an entirely new language". Immigrants suffer complications in teaching natives how to understand an environment which is "native" to them and foreign to Immigrants.


According to Marc Prensky (2001), Digital natives are those kids who represent the first generations to grow up with technology. As a result of high exposure to technology and a sheer volume of their interaction with it, today's students are said to have a change in their thinking patterns. A new designation Marc Prensky (2001) has found for our students is Digital Natives. The rest, that is, those not born into the digital world but have, at some later point of their lives, adopted technology in their daily lives are described as Digital Immigrants.

Digital natives are:

Born during or after the introduction of digital technology

Interacted with digital technology from an early age

Has greater understanding of its concepts

Focuses on people who grew up with technology

Digital immigrants are:

Born before existence of digital technology

Adopted it to some extent later in life

Have different categories; namely:

(i) Avoiders - have a minimal amount of technology

(ii) Reluctant adopters - see ways that technology might be needed in their lives

(iii) Eager adopters - have enthusiasm or a talent for technology


According to Prensky (2001), we need to reconsider the both the methodology and the content.

(1) Our methodology - The educators should learn to correspond in the same language and style as their students. However, this doesn't imply to change the significance of what is important, or of good thinking skills.

But it does indicate having a more rapid approach, "less step-by step, more in parallel, with more random access, among other things."

(2) Our content. With the advent of the technology in education, there are now two kinds of content, namely "Legacy" content and "Future" content.

"Legacy" content comprises of all the components of the traditional curriculum such as reading, writing, arithmetic, logical thinking, understanding the writings and ideas of the past, among others. It is certainly still essential despite being from a different era.

"Future" content is considerably, as expected, digital and technological. It not only consists of software, hardware, robotics, nanotechnology, genomics, but it also includes the ethics, politics, sociology, languages and other related things. This "Future" content is of great interest for today's students.

As educators we need to think about how to teach both legacy and future contents in the language of the digital natives.

The following outlines some necessary changes and practices, proposed by Taylor (2005), to make this paradigm shift:

1. Changes in the dynamics of the student-instructor relationship - The teacher should act as a facilitator of students' learning, interactions must be favored and collaborative relationship towards a shared goal should be encouraged. The role of the educator has evolved; it has changed from expert to an acolyte. The educator is now a service provider and the learner is now a client. Learner engagement is also important, they still need to attend classroom, to do assigned tasks and they have to persist, learn and succeed since the ultimate aspect of learning is success.

2. Changed responsibility for students and instructors - Formerly (in the modern era) teachers were input in the sense of knowledge and students were responsible for outcomes. Teaching was constant; every student got the same thing, but learning was variable in the sense that some students learn more and others learn less.

But nowadays, in the post modern era the responsibility is more blurred, learners are active participants and they are also inputs. On the other hand teachers are also responsible for outcomes, they are accountable. Teaching becomes the variable as instructors facilitate student success by whatever means necessary. There is a diffusion of responsibility. Moreover today, learning can be customized, in other words tailor-made learning. For Ex. Multiple intelligence and special education needs.

3. Focus on student change - Clearly expressed goals are needed which attend to ways through which the students will transform in a meaningful and obvious manner at the end of a class, a course or a program. All the learning outcomes (that is what the learner must demonstrate) should be verbalized according to the needs of the learner

4. Change instructor's role - The six major areas in which the educator has to define himself or herself.

a. Identifies external goals: something bigger than the course ideas. The role of the educator is to show that there is an outcome larger than the visible one.

b. Helps students to own and personalize goals: the educator has to use post-modern pedagogy which is able to make learning meaningful to the learners. EX. Career guidance, counseling, academic counseling. He/she should help the students to understand and decide that this topic, these information and this class matters to them personally.

c. Offers learning options. Ex. Different learning strategies: learning can occur visually, kinesthetically or in an auditory way. The educator can use e-pedagogy such as projectors, DVD, TV, audio devices, internet, in class, mind mapping tools. Technology must go beyond a gadget, it must be able to improve education, and it is a multi model way of teaching and learning. Moreover learning should not be bound by time and space; the students should be able to learn now or later, alone or in a group, here or there, live or online.

d. Facilitates a variety of learning methods. Even if the students "own the outcomes and know their options", the educational institution should remain dynamic and reachable in helping the learners to identify which learning methods is best for them, in giving assistance for each of the methods and in helping them to evaluate their progress.

e. Acts as a resource: a post-modern teacher must be resourceful as the post-modern learner will always come for resources to the teachers. The teacher should be empowered to create his/her own resources.

f. Assess against the external criteria. In contrast with traditional pedagogy, in post modern pedagogy, no students will be taken by surprise by their grade and in an ideal world; every student would reach success and would notify the educator when they had attained mastery. The assessment against the external criteria is another collaborative work and some examples are self evaluations, peer evaluations and practice tests which help students to have a better understanding of the goals, objectives, outcomes, the grading system of the course and their comparative advancement and achievement.

5. Working up educational taxonomies. Educators should work up with Bloom's famous taxonomy of educational objectives. The post modern pedagogy realizes the necessity of some foundational knowledge in each discipline, but it recommends stimulating a call for this information through using and encouraging higher level educational activities and goals

6. Increasing activity in learning - active learning methods should be integrated thus enhancing the level of interaction and boosting the student activity level in classes and related learning activities. Active learning approaches should be selected and tailored according to the class objectives, content, and structure. Some examples are small groups, project groups, interactive dyads, jig-saw and expert groups, brainstorming, peer teaching, peer grading, self grading, simulations, immediate mastery and imbedded assessments and quizzes.

7. Meaningful assessments. - The traditional assessment was coined generally in terms of matching the knowledge of the students to that of the teacher. On the other hand, in post modern pedagogy, instructive methods and related assessment should seek to reach higher levels of learning, through active learning methodologies. Focus should be less on the content and more on application, less on the quantity and more on the quality. "Instructors are encouraged to reduce their dependence on traditional in-class tests to assess student learning and the class paper to assign a grade (papers which can often only marginally be justified as assessing learning) and to explore other assessments and demonstrations of learning. Portfolio development, and chat and message board postings might also be considered in the grading rubric."

Prensky (2001) argues that whether our schools, or our students, can afford it or not, all today's students need technology. This can be achieved through sharing and finding creative solutions that bring every student into the digital world.

However even if the technology has such a great impact on our lives and in the education sector, it should not overpower the language classroom, it should be utilized as a supplement teaching aid for educators so as to do those things which they cannot do themselves or to improve the pedagogical practice of the teacher (Bobrati and Leka 2011).


With technology everywhere, the teaching and learning process has been modified; it does no longer rely on solely the face to face relationship between learners and instructors. The modern schools' environment is now a computer-aided instructional environment (Aqda and al, 2010).

The definition of CALL given by Davies and al (2005) is as such "Computer Assisted Language Learning, the term that is favored worldwide to refer to the use of ICT in language learning and teaching in its broadest sense."

Another definition of CALL is making use of the computer in order to facilitate the learning of languages (Rahimi, Yadollahi and Rajaee, 2010).

Marzban (2010) added that: "Computer assisted language learning is a new field in both the computer and linguistics sciences. Linking both fields, it offers good promises to teachers, linguists, and computer researchers. With the growing sense of unity between linguists and computer scientists, some of the mysteries of language acquisition will be unraveled, which can help provide more effective and principled language teaching."

However Rahimi (2010) had mentioned from Warschaur (1996) and Chapelle (2003), that CALL research has focused mainly on three types of research namely the software, the learning task or task pedagogy, and the learners, during its phases of development.




Bobrati and Leka (2011) debated about the technology needs in language classes and they discussed about the positive effects of technology in the teaching and learning process of languages.

According to them, another medium for learning languages is micro-computers and quality CALL software. Numerous computer applications are available to language teachers and students, which can facilitate the language teaching and learning, such as vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation guides, spelling verificators, electronic copybooks, programs for writing and reading and a large number of authoring packages which can help teachers in preparing extra exercises for their students.

Blake (1987) also affirmed that students are much more motivated in CALL classes.

Chun and Brandl (1992) mentioned the different characteristics of the computer which help students learning languages.

These are:

1. The students and even the teachers are interested with the interactive and multimedia functions of a computer which makes it "an attractive teaching /learning tool"

2. Interactive software including sounds, graphics, videos and animations are presented to students

3. Students can work at their own pace as they can have instant feedback with the computer.

4. Students can retrieve previous lessons for revision purposes.

According to Bobrati and Leka (2011) "language is a living thing" so the most appropriate method of learning languages is learning it within an interactive and real environment and technology can bring that.

They further added that learning is an on-going process which forms part of our lives, and now teachers are more considered as guides and not the only one who posses knowledge and where students are not expected to remain passive but they should be active and participate in class. So technology is well suited to help teachers and students in their respective new roles.


Bobrati and Leka (2011) on the other hand, discussed on the point that computers and software alone will not be sufficient for the students to learn languages efficiently. The internet is also an important feature and tool for the language students. Here are the numerous advantages of the internet that they cited:

1. "The internet is an entity related to literacy- people still interact with it entirely through reading and writing. For this reason alone, the internet is a technology that will, without a doubt, having significant implications for both teaching and learning." We can further add speaking in the way people interact with the internet.

2. The internet is a "living medium", having up to date information and giving learning experiences based on real life. Accordingly the students will acquire observational, critical thinking and organizational skills among others which will help them solve real-life problems.

3. The internet facilitates group works even if the students are all at their places and in different countries. They can communicate with each other at low costs and this helps in building cross-cultural cooperative groups.

4. Students can benefit from the huge bank of information available on the internet. While they would sort out through this information to retain only the relevant ones, they would acquire numerous skills such as reading skills, higher order thinking skills, logic skills, evaluating and judgmental skills.

5. Language and culture are inter-related, if the student is familiar and has understood a culture, it will not be difficult for him to understand the language. The internet helps a lot in this domain as it favors communication between language students and native speakers.

6. The internet helps the language students to learn the specific language in different context such as in geography, in history, in socio-cultural context, in politics and in economy. The online versions of the media can also be consulted by the students.

7. The internet can enhance creativity as with the advent of World Wide Web, the students can upload their own works such as essays, poetry, and stories.

8. Last but not least, the internet can give students access to numerous language exercises and activities which can act as a supplement and additional practice in learning languages.



According to Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary & Thesaurus (2011), a language lab is defined as "a room in a school or college in which students can use equipment to help them practice listening to and speaking a foreign language."


Roby (2003) from John Brown University has written a research paper entitled Technology in the service of foreign language learning: the case of the language laboratory. In this paper he has explored the historical perspective of the language laboratory in details. Below is a summary of his exposé.

He started with talking about the long existing relationship between foreign language learning and media which has always been used in the teaching and learning process of languages.

The tin foiled phonography, invented in 1877 by Edison, can be considered as the father of the language lab.

Foreign language teachers have made use of this first audio device in their language classes, and later on they adopted other advances in audio technology namely the magnetic tape and digital media. (Delcolque et al 2000)

By 1893, in Spanish and English language classes, commercial record sets were available to students.

However, according to Keating (1936), who is mentioned by Roby, the very first use of the phonograph and other equipments such as the stereopticon (an old version of the slide projector) happened haphazardly.

From October 1935 through December 1946, the Modern Language Journal had set up a radio department.

It is in 1908, according to Léon (1962) that the phonographic equipments have been set up in a laboratory thus facilitating the foreign language study.

This lab was situated at the University of Grenoble in France. This concept has then been imported in America by Frank C. Chalfant, who studied in France in the summer of 1909. Then in the school-year 1911-1912 he set up a "phonetics laboratory" at the Washington State College situated in Pullman. This lab comprises of networked earphones and phonograph-recording machine from which the students were able to compare the way they pronounce the language they are learning with models of the native-speaker.

According to Gullette (1932) and Hocking (1967), in the 1930s and during the Second World War several institutions have set up their respective language labs.

Roby mentioned from Hocking (1967) and Koekkoek (1959) that the modern language laboratory movement started in 1946.

Levin (1931) suggested the installation of soundproof booths which would further facilitate the learning in language labs and eventually they became standard equipments in the postwar labs (MLA, 1956).

Labs at that time consisted mainly of audio installations, but occasionally movie, slide, and ¬lm strip projectors were accessible according to Hirsch (1954), Marty (1956) and Newmark (1948).

"By 1958, in the United States there were 64 labs in secondary schools and 240 in colleges and universities (Johnston& Seerley, 1960)."

The 1960s are considered as the golden years of the language laboratory and the number of facilities has been multiplied as a result of the generous federal support.

In 1960 Edward Stack published the first edition of his textbook entitled: The Language Laboratory and Modern Language Teaching.

Creation of "The National Association of Language Laboratory Directors" (NALLD) in 1965 which is followed by a newsletter the next year.

Creation of the Audio-Visual Language Journal, in Great Britain in 1962.

A major technical development being the audiocassette (Dodge, 1968) having several advantages namely: "a lower price and that smaller lighter machines could

play it."

In 1970's, machines with skip-back capability were being produced by major manufacturers, such as Sony and Tandberg,

Introduction of the speech compressor- expander, a device which could speed up or slow down a recording.

During the 1970s and the early 1980s the language laboratory had been stagnant in its development as the funds were being reduced and moreover the number of articles published on the subject has dramatically decreased.

The decline of the language lab has been stopped by a conference of three days. Its theme was entitled: "A Renaissance for the Language Lab". The conference was held at the Concordia University in the month of July of the year 1981 (Kenner, 1981). Eventually one month later the ¬rst Foreign Language Education and Technology (FLEAT) conference was held in Tokyo which was sponsored by the Language Laboratory Association of Japan and the NALLD.

1983 was the year in which Time magazine named the computer the "machine of the year," and the Computer Assisted Learning and Instruction Consortium (CALICO) were founded.

In 1980's, reading and writing were valorized, thus increasing the focus on the importance of language laboratories.

"Personal computers, which became popular in the 1980s,¬rst made their entrance into the language laboratory because they could handle the "paper" skills of reading and writing"

The developments in 1980s further evolved in the next decade.

"Lab directors and other language professionals interested in technology were able to share questions and keep in touch through the Language Learning Technology International (LLTI)"

Increase in the use of technology in the teaching and learning process of languages thanks to numerous technological developments.

The outstanding rise of the World Wide Web from 1993 further linked language learning and technology.

Quinn (1990) had discussed about the transition of the contribution of the computer in language laboratories.


The traditional language lab was equipped with numerous booths having each a cassette deck with their respective microphones and headphones. A central control panel was used by the teacher to monitor their student's interaction (Bobrati and Leka 2011).

Below is a list of the different hardware and software which can be found in a modern language laboratory (Le Logiciel):

Teacher Console, Basic & Advanced Digital Recorders , Student Consoles, Interactive Teaching, Individual & Group Learning, Lesson Transfer for a Group / Individual students, Remote Desktop Access, Text Chat & Group Chat, Video Recording & Broadcasting, Public Chat Room , Text to Audio Conversion, , Lesson Playing, Lesson Preparation , Lesson Recording , Graphical Voice Comparison, Lesson Comparing , Group Discussion, Permanent Lessons Library, Audio & Text Combine Studio, Multimedia Support, Learn SOFT Dictionary with UK & US Pronunciation, Audio & Video Broadcasting , Learn SOFT Online Examination, User manual, Customer Support, Detailed Trouble Shooting Guide and an interactive whiteboard among others.


Hutchinson (1964) observed that there are five main criteria in determining the language laboratory's effectiveness: the teacher, the teaching materials, the testing and grading programs, the student practice sessions, and the equipment.

Garrett (1991) talked about the issue of efficacy of the language lab, whether using technology actually support language teaching and/or learning and whether it is worthy for all the time the effort and the cost which it implies. He stated that many questions should be raised in order to assess the effectiveness of the language lab and these are:

"1. Should technology be thought of as primarily assisting teaching (for example, handling homework, thus saving classroom time for communicative activities) or as directly supporting learning (for example, allowing students to explore cultural material as they like)?

2. What is the relationship between a theoretically and empirically based understanding of the language learning process and the design and implementation of technology-based materials?

3. Should students work with pedagogically shaped materials or directly with authentic data?

4. Should students' access to the material be directed or entirely under their own control? What cognitive strategies or problems are implied either way?

5. What kinds of research does the use of technology for language learning demand or enable? "

Stack (1960) observed from his part that an understanding of magnetic recording and well organized administration are critical to effective laboratory use.



In the official website of the Government of Mauritius, the status of languages in Mauritius is described as follows: "English is the official language. French is extensively used and Creole is widely spoken. Asian languages also form part of the linguistic mosaic." (Government portal of Mauritius 2012)


The main colonial languages used in Mauritius are the French and the English languages. English is considered to be the only official language in Mauritius. It is the language of the Court and of the National Assembly. Mahadeo (2004) stated that in the Courts Act, section 14 it is claimed that the official language to be used in the Supreme Court of Mauritius shall be English. He added that the English language is also one of the fundamental requirements in order to be a member of the National Assembly and he further cited the Section 33 (subsection 4) of the Constitution which reads as follows:

"[….] a person shall be qualified to be elected as a member of the Assembly if, and shall not be qualified unless, he is able to speak and, unless incapacitated by blindness or other physical cause, to read the English language with a degree of proficiency sufficient to enable him to take an active part in the proceedings of the Assembly."

According to Sauzier-Ushida (2009), the English language "is politically readily accepted as the language for parliamentary, judicial, administrative and educational purposes as it is not associated with a particular cultural community."

However, despite more than 150 years of British rule and the recognition of the English as an official language, the French language plays a major role in the oral interaction of Mauritians in both formal and informal instances.

In practice, French is accepted as the second language or semi-official since it is extensively used in the parliament, in the court, in the education system and particularly in the media. (Mahadeo 2004)

"It is much more common for people of any ethnicity to speak French in everyday interactions, particularly for formal occasions" (Sauzier-Ushida 2009)

According to the Central Statistic office (2000), only 0.3% of the whole Mauritian population speaks English at home. This limited use of the English language could be explained by our historical background where the British settlers had not assimilated themselves to the French culture and way of life (Stein, 1982).

It is true that English is (at least technically) the prevailing language of school education, it is the official language of politics, as mentioned above, and, therefore, it is used in many official circumstances, where it has large predominance over French. However, whenever a large audience has to be addressed to, French language is used much more than English language. (Mahadeo 2004)

Concerning the media, we can say that the press is by and large in French, with a little proportion of English articles, which consist generally of articles from international news agencies or foreign English-language newspapers; official information and announcements or special advertisements.

The situation is the same in the domain of entertainment where French plays a major role, be it on the radio, on the television and even in the cinema. Even the prime time main Mauritian news bulletin of 19.30pm is in French. Hookoomsing (1986) explains this in these terms:

"As far as the television service is concerned, most of the programmes are in French, English and Hindustani, with French getting the lion's share of the transmission time".

Sauzier-Ushida (2009) stated from Foley (1995) that the press, television programs, films and fiction books are much more accessible in French than in English.

In the work place, in both the private and public sector, French has a more dominant position in oral interactions where as English maintains its supremacy in all written work. "Communication, letters, publications and reports are in English." A pass in English language in the School Certificate is a must for most civil servants in the government sector. (Mahadeo 2004)


According to Sauzier-Ushida (2009) our Mauritian Kreol is a French-lexified one which has developed gradually after that a variety of languages came into contact, namely French, West African languages, Bengali, Tamil and Malagasy.

Originally, Kreol was considered as the mother tongue of Afro-Mauritians, but today the Central Statistic office (2000) revealed that approximately 70% of our Mauritian population of different ethnic backgrounds considers kreole as their mother tongue.

All ethnic groups also extensively use it for informal everyday interactions, thus having the status of lingua franca of Mauritius. More than a language and a lingua franca, the Mauritian Kreol acts as "the language of solidarity" (Rajah-Carrim, 2004) and "an 'unofficial' national language" (Eriksen, 1990) in Mauritius.

In practice, Kreole is no more considered as the language of one ethnic group but it is instead shared by the whole Mauritian nation. (Sauzier-Ushida 2009)

In his message in the book "Lortograph Kreol Maurisien" (2011) of the Akademi Kreol Maurisien, The Minister of Education and Human Resources, Dr. Hon.Vasant Bunwaree, also talked about the status of our Mauritian Kreol in these terms:

"Language is part of a culture. It is also a reflection of an identity. The beauty of Kreol Morisien is that it belongs to no single ethnic group of Mauritius but to everyone. It is ultimately part and parcel of the Mauritian way of life, of the Mauritian psyche. As such it provides a collective identity as well, allowing all of us to seek secure and sustain our roots in it."

Despite that the Mauritian Kreol is still considered by some as a French patois (Sauzier-Ushida 2009), it is in fact on the right track of acquiring, in the long run, the status of a language as such. Today a standardized orthography of our Kreol has been proposed and many are working on the grammar part as well. Moreover the Mauritian Kreol is also paving its way in the education system of Mauritius. Ancestral Languages

Many ancestral languages, such as Bhojpuri, Hindi, Gujerati, Kutchi, Mandarin, Marathi, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu and Arabic, are present and used in Mauritius but their use are limited to ethnicity and religion. Hardly any Mauritians converse in the language of their forefathers nowadays other than in religious practices. However, the majority still connect their ancestors' languages with their historical and cultural identity. (Rajah-Carrim 2004)

However, a quite large number of Mauritians still use Bhojpuri at home, especially the older generation and in rural areas. Thus, this language could still be considered as the lingua franca of some Mauritians. As the Mauritian kreole, the Bhojpuri is also paving its way in the education system in Mauritius.



The education system of Mauritius consists mainly of three levels: Primary education for students aged between 5 and 11 years, secondary education for students aged 11 to 18 years and tertiary education for those aged 18 and above.


Primary education is compulsory and free for all Mauritians. English and French languages are core compulsory subjects as from standard I classes, along with mathematics, Science, History and Geography. There are about seven oriental languages, namely Arabic, Hindi, Mandarin, Marathi, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu, which are offered as optional subjects to the primary school students. When the students who have opted for oriental languages are having their classes, those who do not have associations with any of these languages, have the choice to follow an alternative Christianity-based religious class.

The Mauritian Kreol has recently paved its way in the primary edcation, where it is being offered as an optional subject alongside the above-mentioned oriental languages. The Minister of Education, Dr. Hon. Vasant Bunwaree explained the introduction of the Mauritian Kreol in those terms: "The government… has made it a crucial part of its policy to give this language its legitimate place in the education system. This is not so much because it will merely help our pupils to better apprehend concepts and knowledge, but principally because a mother tongue needs to be ascribed its due credentials. There are other facets of the language that the Akademi is working on that relate to the grammar as well the production of curricular materials while in parallel the mounting of teacher training programs will soon be seeing the light of day." (Akademi Kreol Maurisien 2011)

Being the lingua Franca of some Mauritians, the Bhojpuri is also making an entry in the primary education. However, it will not be taught as a separate oriental language but it will form part in the curriculum of the Hindi language.

English is the official medium of instruction in primary schools in Mauritius. However, it is quite different in practice since most teachers use French and Kreol as teaching language, especially during the first years of school. However English remains the written medium of instruction. Many teachers consider that their students are more able to understand the topics and concepts in spoken French, because of its similarities with Kreol, than spoken English. (Mahadeo 2004)


Secondary Education is compulsory up to the age of 16 years old for all Mauritians. It is divided into two main levels: achieving the Cambridge school certificate after five years of secondary education and achieving the Cambridge Higher School Certificate after two additional years after the school certificate. Recently the government of Mauritius has introduced the National Examination at form three levels, where all the form three students sit for the same papers throughout all schools in Mauritius. They are examined in seven subjects, namely Mathematics, French, English, Physics, Biology, Chemistry and computer studies.

English and French languages are core compulsory subjects from Form I to Form V classes, and they are optional subjects for Higher School certificate. Oriental languages are optional languages as from Form I classes in most secondary schools. Some confessional schools, namely the catholic schools, have also introduced some European languages such as Spanish and German in lower secondary classes.

There is a far greater use of English, as a medium of instruction in secondary education than in primary schools, despite the fact that most secondary schools use French language extensively. (Mahadeo 2004)


Although English is the official language in Mauritius, it is regarded as a second language. Mauritians use the Creole language to communicate orally. French is also a second language in Mauritius. Both these languages are taught in pre-primary, primary and secondary schools as compulsory subjects.

A precise analysis of the statistics published by Mauritius Examination Syndicate MES on the pass rate of Mauritian students clearly shows that the level of Mauritian students in English and French is low. Even though the percentage pass is high, quality-wise the results are not good. (MES, 2011)

In the Cambridge School Certificate, only 1.92 % of the students who took part in the 2010 examinations got a distinction of one in English language. The percentage of students obtaining a credit in English is 50.86%. For French language, the percentage of students obtaining a distinction of one is 7.95%. The percentage of students obtaining a credit is 62.96%.

The British Council report on the use of English also points out the difficulty of students to understand and use English. According to the report, 50% of the pupils who participated in the test were found unable to understand English. The pupils were between 11-14 years of age. (L'Express, 2007)

The BPO sector has become one of the pillars of the Mauritian economy. The number of companies in 2005 was 107 (Board of Investment, 2006). The trend is on the rise. The conditions to work in this field are usually a good command of both spoken and written English and French. In order to boost up such developments, there should have a supply of good knowledgeable and creative labor. Thus the language issue in Mauritius also concerns economic growth. (Mungur and Adam, 2007)






Various reports and papers have been published by the government of Mauritius specifically the Ministry of Education and Human resources showing the urgency of using technology in schools. The introduction of ICT in education can be traced back to 1980's when some teachers first brought their own computers in schools. In the 1990's, the government saw ICT a strategic technology for the development of the country. Computer literacy was introduced at form III level in 1986 as a pilot project and soon after it became a subject taught up to HSC level. In 1991, the Master Plan in education was prepared in which stress was laid on ICT education. ICT was described as 'the back-bone of a modern industrial economy.' (Master plan, 1991)

In 1997, a three year pilot project called MaurITPrime (for primary schools) and MaurITlink (for secondary schools) was initiated by the Ministry in collaboration with the British Council. Its aim was to introduce ICT at primary level and connect all schools to the internet. In 1998, the Action Plan for a New Education System in Mauritius was presented. ICT was introduced as a subject in primary schools. The plan stresses on the use of computer-system in all dimensions in schools. It stressed on the creation of a School Resource Centre responsible for audio-visual and electronic media resources. But the plan was only partially implemented. (Farrell and Isaacs, 2007)

In 2007, the Ministry encouraged schools to set up Multimedia rooms which was called "Médiathèque". It is a technology workroom for both teachers and pupils where they could have access to multimedia equipments such as television sets, computers, CDs, films, books and educational software. It provides another dimension in the curriculum.

It serves the need of every linked with education, provide pedagogical support and support research activities (Médiathèque 2007). This initiative was the first seed sowed in the establishment of language labs in the future.

The Task Force, National Strategic Plan (2006-2010) and National ICT policy 2007-2011 were published by the Ministry but stress was made on mostly connectivity via the Internet. Internet access was provided in schools. (Milestone, 2007)

The last educational plan published by the Ministry was the 'Education and Human Resources Strategy plan 2008-2020. It covers all sectors of education. It includes science and support technologies in the educational system. (Education and Human Resources Strategy plan 2008-2020) The message of the minister Dr the Honorable Vasant K. Bunwaree goes, "It is in this domain that Innovation and Creativity have to become the by-words for change. Creative learning, which is the acquisition of skills and competencies that unlock the human potential, becomes a paramount necessity since education is one of the cardinal drivers of the economy." The plan clearly indicates that all schools should be technologically equipped by 2015.

The Mauritius Institute of Education (MIE) is working on the Sankoré Project which aims at equipping schools with digital classrooms starting with the interactive whiteboard (IWB) technology, developing of digital educational resources and providing empowerment and support to teachers. (Sankoré, 2011)

Some private schools and institutions have gone a bit further by introducing digital language labs



The following are institutions which have recently set up digital language labs:

The Islamic Cultural Centre (ICC) in Port-Louis - Both the expertise and fund were from the Saudi Arabian government.

The St.Andrew's School which is a confessional secondary school at Rose-Hill has its own digital language lab. The lab as inaugurated on the 25th of March 2010. It is the only secondary school having introduced such a technology in Mauritius. (St Andrews School 2010)

The Campus Abroad Mauritius Ltd in Rose-Hill in a press release in l'Express affirmed its willingness to set up a language lab in its Mauritian branch with the aim of attracting African students to study in Mauritius. (l'Express, 2007). Campus Abroad Mauritius Ltd is a facilitator to help students to pursue tertiary studies overseas. It provides consultancy services in this field. (Campus Abroad Mauritius, 2011)

The Brindaban Multipurpose Education Centre at Palma, Quatre Bornes has just furnished its brand new digital language lab. It is a registered NGO N/1141 taking part in educational, social and cultural activities. (ungc, 2006)

Many other institutions are planning to set up their own language labs such as the St. Helena College, Vacoas, the St. Mary's College West at Petite Rivière and the Qadri Sunni Circle in Phoenix.

In the recent advertisement of vacancy for the post of teacher at the Mahatma Gandhi Institute, Mauritius, it is clearly stated that they are looking for a person to work with specialised equipments and the language lab is included in the list. (MGI, 2010)

The Samech Digital Language Lab Co. Ltd (Samech DLL) situated at Roches Brunes is the pioneer in this field in Mauritius. It is the sole company providing this service. It is the official representative of the Technilab Group in Mauritius. (Samech brochure)


As can be seen from above (6.2), the only company providing the language lab service in Mauritius is the Samech Digital Language Lab Co. Ltd (Samech DLL). The company provides all the necessary equipments of a language lab together with necessary training of the personnel using them. A manual for teachers and students using the lab has been written by Mr.Tayab Nunkoo.

The main functions of the technologies provided by Samech DLL are:

(1) Listen to audio sources such as audiocassette, videocassette, CD, DVD etc under the guide of a teacher who can play, pause and stop controls.

(2) Reading practices where student intonation and punctuation are recorded on the student soundtrack. It is stored to be able to listen again and correct mistakes.

(3) Audio on demand where students can work independently by selecting the desired lesson. It consists of an audio library featuring different contents.

(4) Listening and comprehension where students practice listening to the questions on the master sound track thus improving their degree of comprehension

(5) Comparative recording where students practice repeating a model stimulus provided by the master soundtrack to improve their pronunciation and intonation skills.

(6) Simultaneous translation can be practiced by students.

(7) Consecutive translation where translation is possible only after listening to the entire track.

(8) Telephone conversations are possible and thus favoring exchange between students and group work.

(9) Multiple choice tests become very easy where the results are quick to check.

(10) True-false tests are also possible.

(11) Selected pair works where two students communi