Teachers perceptions of technology use in teaching languages

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The recent growth of technology integration in language classes has attracted the attention of many educators. Thus, the impact and effectiveness of technology-use on education has been investigated by a number of researchers in different settings and contexts. Most of those studies shared a common finding that is related to the effectiveness of technology integration in learning and teaching and its potential for enhancing teaching methods and students' knowledge (Frigaard, 2002; Schofield and Davidson, 2003; Miner, 2004; Timucin, 2006; Roblyer and Davis, 2008). 'Technology-enhanced education' is becoming an increasingly important part of higher and professional education (Wernet, Olliges and Delicath, 2000). Presumably, technology not only gives learners the opportunity to control their own learning process, but also provides them with ready access to a vast amount of information over which the teacher has no control over (Lam and Lawrence, 2002). Teachers are seen to be active agents in the process of changes and implementation of new ideas as their beliefs and attitudes may support or impede the success of any educational reform such as the utilization of an innovative technology program (Woodrow, 1991; Levin and Wadmany, 2006a). Hence, investigating teachers' perceptions about technology integration would provide a better understanding of the situation. Technology offers all students opportunities to learn in ways not previously possible. Its innovations have gone hand-in-hand with the growth of English and are changing the way in which we learn. The Internet is changing the language partly because it gives rise to new vocabulary and more importantly because the users of this tool drive the language in certain directions (Crystal, 2001). Technology has a potential impact on our well-established notions of EFL and ESL curriculum design and hence the new trend in curriculum design views technology as playing an essential role in education (Almekhlafi, 2006). Nevertheless, technology plays marginal role within the context of traditional curriculum development as it is not fully integrated to assist the process of learning and teaching.

While the technical advances of information technology greatly impact English language learning as it seems to boost student' motivation (Mansor, 2007), instructional technology has been barely used in Arabic classes and little attention has been made to integrate technology in teaching and learning Arabic. The positive outcomes of integrating technology in education along with other data convince a number of countries including the United Arab Emirates to embark on the use of Internet and information technology in the educational system in order to produce a workforce that is educated, skilled in new technologies and able to face global challenges. This study sought to actually investigate language teachers' perceptions of technology utilization in UAE's k-12 schools. It employed both quantitative and qualitative instruments in order to capture a larger picture and gain a better understanding of the teaching and learning situation. The following research questions were addressed:

How do teachers perceive their competencies in integrating technology in teaching languages?

What kinds of barriers do language teachers perceive when integrating technology in their teaching?

What kinds of incentives do teachers anticipate to receive as a result of integrating technology in language teaching?

How do teachers view their students' use of technology in the classroom to enhance language learning?

What kind of technology do teachers prefer to use in teaching languages?

How do teachers view the use of technology in enhancing language teaching and learning?

Literature Review

The utilization of technology in K-12 classrooms has increased rapidly since the launch of school computer in the 1970s (Eugene, 2006; Puma, Chaplin and Pape, 2000; National Governor's Association, 1999). Teachers are found today to be very busy employing technology to facilitate teaching and learning. Teachers in fact are seen to be powerful to introduce new instructional ideas in their classes such as the integration of technology into the curriculum. A number of studies were conducted to investigate how curriculum integration with the use of technology as a tool may enhance language learning in the content area or multidisciplinary settings (Greenfield, 2003; Evans, 2004; Wong 2004; Miner, 2004; Brodskaya and Thiele, 2004; Velazquez-Torres, 2006; Timucin 2006; Eugene, 2006; Hixon, 2008; Roblyer and Davis, 2008; Roblyer et al. 2008).

Teachers are seen to be active agents in the process of changes and implementation of new ideas as their beliefs and attitudes may support or impede the success of any educational reform such as an innovative technology program and/or the integration of technology to support teaching and learning (Woodrow, 1991). Thus, attention has recently been paid to the role of teachers in supporting reform such as the utilization of technology in classrooms. Some researchers focused on the relationship between teachers' perceptions and technology integration. Eugene (2006) investigated how teachers' attitudes and beliefs may impact the integration of technology in their classes. For the purpose of measuring teachers' attitudes and beliefs about the integration of technology and what makes quality instruction, the researcher used the "Conditions that Support Constructivist Uses of Technology Survey" which was initially developed and used by Ravitze and Light (2000). Thirty-two teachers responded to the questionnaire to measure their attitudes and beliefs about instruction and technology integration. A classroom observation technique was also used to find out how teachers' beliefs and attitudes may correlate with their teaching practices and the implementation of technology. After analyzing the data, the researcher found that there was a discrepancy between teachers' beliefs and their actual instructional practices of integrating technology. The researcher indicated at the end that the results of this small scale study came contrary to previous larger scale studies. What made this study different from large scale study was that it employed the observation technique which had the power of capturing key elements of data.

In a similar study, Simonsson (2004) used a questionnaire to investigate the beliefs of 103 bilingual elementary school teachers toward the utilization of technology when incorporating cultural components. The findings of this study indicated that the utilization of technology is related to teachers' beliefs, attitudes and the extent to which other instructors employed technology in their teaching. A marginal result highlighted that many bilingual teachers believed that technology might assist them to incorporate cultural issues to clarify important points. In a study within the Puerto Rican context, Velazquez-Torres (2006) investigated teachers' perceptions and readiness to integrate technology in their classes. The qualitative data emerged from a questionnaire showed that teachers were not ready to integrate technology with instructional materials. The data revealed that there is a mismatch between the in-service and pre-service training programs. Although pre-service training programs did not include any technology-component, teachers were required to use technology when they started teaching in public schools.

In the area of CALL (Computer Assisted Language Learning) researchers tried to look at the impact of technology integration on ESL/EFL learning (Timucin, 2006; Al-Mekhlafi, 2006; Frigaard, 2002). Timucin, (2006) looked closely at the process of implementing an EFL innovation in the form of CALL in a Turkish State University's Preparatory Program. This study was set to investigate the effectiveness of the use of multimedia along with a textbook to teach EFL students. The focal point of the project was to promote students' communicative competence and autonomy via the implementation of the aforementioned tools. The researcher used two major instruments for collecting data, namely questionnaires and semi-structured interviews. One of the salient findings showed that the teachers became more involved in preparing supplementary materials by exploiting the new technological facilities that the new project made available for their use. Another striking finding showed that teachers became more interested and involved in meetings and discussion with colleagues and administrators. Frigaard (2002) also examined the performance of high school students' who participated in a computer lab on vocabulary, grammar, and listening comprehension in Spanish. Analysis of student surveys indicated that the computer lab was a beneficial tool, benefiting some students more than others. Some students favored lab-based activities while others favored flashcards and games. Most of the students believed that the computer lab improved their listening skills and made class more interesting and they enjoyed having regularly scheduled lab sessions.

In the area of online learning researchers emphasize that this shift in education in the information era can eventually enhance quality teaching and learning. Online learning indisputably provides convenience, flexibility and economic advantages that make it a well-liked learning mode in the information era (Debela, 2008). Miner (2004) investigated whether online teaching has the power of enhancing motivation and assisting language learning, namely writing skills. The researcher also determined whether "Student Moderated Discussion Boards" were more effective than "instructor moderated ones". The results showed that the "Student Moderated Discussion Boards" were more effective at increasing the number, length, and quality of the posts. At the end of the semester, none of the students in the "Student Moderated Discussion Boards" was found to write less and at a lower quality than those in the "Instructor Moderated Group". In terms of their comfort level while participating in the discussion boards, "Student Moderated Discussion Boards" resulted in students feeling significantly more comfortable.

Following the same path, Evans' (2004) research was designed to identify the low-retention rate of students in online classes and the factors that lead to lower persistence in online classes. The research problem was investigated from the participants' perspective, namely the students of the Pasadena City College (PCC). The overall results showed that students who are just beginning an online course, or who have taken more than one online course, believed that the problems or issues found in the online environment at PCC were not barriers to a successful learning experience. The use of email in the area of ESL education has also received certain amount of attention. Greenfield (2003) examined secondary ESL students' attitude and perceptions of a collaborative e-mail exchange between a Form 4 (10th grade) ESL class in Hong Kong and 11th grade English class in Iowa. The exchange was based on an instructional model designed by the researcher. The qualitative data gained from the personal interviews showed a strong student support for the collaborative exchange model. Hong Kong participants used largely positive adjectives to describe their experience, believing it was 'a good learning experience', 'helpful', 'enjoyable', and something they would 'like to repeat in the future'. An interesting result was that cooperative learning via collaborative e-mail exchange received the most positive student responses. However, as the project progressed, students with strong computer skills indicated less satisfaction than those with weak computer skills.

The field of ESL education has also witnessed some innovative changes in the form of technology-applications which were introduced to assist the process of teaching and learning(Wong, 2004; Prapinwong and Puthikanon, 2008). In their study, Prapinwong and Puthikanon (2008) tried to explore the usefulness of WebQuests in EFL contexts and to investigate whether these tools are really applicable for EFL learners. Essentially, they explored characteristics of WebQuests and created a working rubric to critically evaluate WebQuests based on five factors: "level of vocabulary and grammar, content/prior knowledge, interestingness, assistance/scaffolding and task demand". Based on the rubric, they assessed fifteen of the most popular WebQuests and found a 100% inter-rater agreement. The results indicated that only 26% of the selected WebQuests could easily be adopted for EFL instruction while most of them needed to be modified. A number of WebQuests were found to be culturally or socially irrelevant to EFL learners.

In an interesting writing study, Wong (2004) investigated whether the utilizing of technology would improve student-writing performance in a low-advanced writing class. A "Calibrated Peer Review" and "ProBoards", which are Internet-based instructional software tools, were used to help students to learn about writing by writing on important topics. The students reported that they found both tools to be meaningful and effective when learning to write academic texts. Roughly 80% of ESL students who used these tools reported greater comfort with technology and greater understanding of key writing skills. However, the learners found that "ProBoards" was more user-friendly and it allowed them more room for creativity when writing their paragraphs. With the "Calibrated Peer Review", the learners felt that they had less room to be original in their writing though they were offered better feedback.

However, in the context of the United Arab Emirates, studies involving technology integration in language teaching and learning are minimal. Al-Mekhlafi (2004) investigated the effect of Interactive Multimedia (IMM) CD-ROM on the achievement of sixth grade students in relation to their learning styles. Results showed no significant difference between the two groups in the overall achievement. However, results showed that field-independent learners scored significantly higher than field-dependent. One of the recommendations stated in the study was that IMM should be investigated as an individualized learning tool.

Hence, in a subsequent study, Al-Mekhlafi (2006) investigated the effectiveness of Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) on learning English as a foreign language (EFL) by elementary school students in the United Arab Emirates. Eighty-three students in a Model-Prep School in the UAE were selected and divided into experimental and control groups (43 and 40 participants respectively). Results of Analysis of variance (ANOVA) showed a significant difference between CALL users and non-users in favor of the experimental group (p. < .05). In addition, a questionnaire was administered to CALL users to investigate their attitude, perceptions and intention to use CALL in the future. Students in the experimental group had a positive attitude toward CALL, perceived its utility for helping them learn EFL, and had a strong intention to use it in the future. Although the results obtained from the quantitative data have provided evidence of the effect of CALL on learning English as a foreign language, the researcher pointed out at the end that there is a vital need for the use of a qualitative approach in order to reach a thorough understanding of the situation.

The above review of the literature reveals that the issue of integrating technology into English language classes has been thoroughly investigated in different contexts and at different levels. However, studies in the area of integrating technology in L1 classes (Arabic language) are to some extent limited and rare. Only few studies were conducted in certain contexts. An Example of these studies is Abdelrahman's (2001) research about the use of computers in qualifying Arabic teachers in the colleges of education in Egypt. The researcher attempted to show the importance of using computer in qualifying Arabic language teachers. Also, he attempted to identify some of the prominent aspects of the relationship between Arabic language and computer. The researcher's conclusion was that teachers of Arabic language did not use computer because they were not offered any opportunity to come into contact with such a tool during their training in education colleges in Egypt. They only came into contact with computers after graduating and becoming teachers.

In the area of Arabic as a foreign language (AFL), Salem (1993) Investigated the effects of "computer mediated support" on the reading comprehension and reading behavior of beginning American readers of AFL during independent reading of relatively short expository and narrative texts. Twenty-four first year students of AFL at a college level participated in this study. The subjects of the study were offered computer-assisted reading at four levels of treatment: control (use of text only), access to glossary, access to conjugation of selected verbs in the text, and access to background information. 'Immediate Recall Protocol' was used as an assessment tool to measure reading comprehension. The analysis of data revealed significant differences between the control condition and the three treatment conditions. Readers with access to a 'computer mediated reading support' scored higher on the recall protocol measure. The overall findings suggested that vocabulary knowledge was the primary contributor to reading comprehension while background information played an insignificant role in enhancing comprehension. Verb conjugation was found to be an irrelevant factor in promoting comprehension.

Methodology

A combination of quantitative and qualitative approaches was used in order to capture a larger picture and gain a better understanding of the situation.

Participants

The population of this study included all teachers of Arabic and English in K-12 schools in the UAE. ِ A stratified sample from the entire population of the study were selected. A number of teachers (621) from 67 schools in different emirates (Abu-Dhabi: 25, Sharjah: 15, Fujairah: 12, RAK: 10 and Ajman: 5) filled in the questionnaire. More than half (58%) of the participating teachers were females and the rest of them were males. In relation to their subject areas, there were 342 Arabic teachers, 242 English teachers and 37 anonymous. Nearly 68% of both groups have more than 5 years of teaching experience, while the rest of them have less than 5 years. The focus-group interviews included 28 teachers (15 Arabic and 13 English).

Instruments

Both a questionnaire and a focus group interview were developed and used to collect the relevant data. The questionnaire included six main themes relevant to instructional technology that Arabic and English teachers employed. It was refereed by a panel of university professors and supervisors of both Arabic and English languages in order to establish its validity. The questionnaire used a five-point Likert scales extending from 5 (very high or strongly agree) to 1 (very low or strongly disagree). Cronbach Alpha Formula was used to compute the reliability of the questionnaire and the value was found to be 0.93. The focus group interview technique was utilized to collect data from selected Arabic and English teachers about the integration of technology in teaching languages. The questions of the interview were reviewed and refereed by a number of faculty members in the UAE University to check if they matched the themes of the questionnaire and they could produce supportive data. During the focus group interviews more attention was paid to certain key issues such as the barriers hindering technology integration in language classes and the solutions for overcoming such problems.

Data Collection procedures

A systematic procedure was used for collecting and administering the data. First, a number of research assistants helped in distributing the questionnaire in 67 K-12 schools after they had attended a training workshop. All Arabic and English teachers who were available during the researchers and/or research assistants' visit were requested to complete the survey. During the first semester of the academic year 2008-2009, a large number of the questionnaire (850) was distributed in different schools in five emirates. Nearly 73% of the questionnaires were returned (621). Then, the researchers and the research assistants conducted focus group interviews with selected Arabic and English teachers from different schools and Emirates. Finally, a couple of research assistants helped in inputting data onto computer.

Data Analysis

The SPSS program was used to obtain different types of descriptive and t-test from the quantitative data collected via the questionnaire. A framework was created to categorize teachers' responses to the focus group interview questions into themes in order to facilitate the analysis process (Holliday, 2002). Teachers' responses were then cumulatively analyzed for commonalities (Levin and Wadmany, 2006b). Similarities and differences between the two groups were highlighted where appropriate. Findings from qualitative data analyses were materialized and incorporated into the results discussion of the research questions. Following Creswell (2003) the interpretation of the quantitative five scale Likert questionnaire data was supported by the qualitative data obtained via the focus group interview.

Results and Discussion

The study results will be organized and discussed in accordance with the research questions. To answer question number 1 "How do teachers perceive their competencies in integrating technology in teaching languages?", results indicated that teachers had high perceptions of their technology integration competencies (see Table 1). The mean scores of participants ranged from 3.7 to 4.5 on a 5-point scale ranging from strongly agree "5" to strongly disagree "1". This means that teachers regarded themselves as having the capabilities and skills to use different types of technologies in their teaching such as using different computer programs, producing technology-based projects, creating multimedia presentations, and integrating language labs to enhance teaching and learning. This idea was supported by both Arabic and English teachers during the focus group interviews. The analysis and interpretation of the interviews' results revealed that both Arabic and English teachers almost possess the same skills in using technology in their classes for the purpose of facilitating students' learning. Teachers indicated that their appreciation and awareness of the importance and usefulness of technology had convinced them to integrate it to support teaching and learning. According to their views, competency in using technology was acquired as a result of the availability of computers and other machines in their schools and classes. In the literature there is some evidence which is in harmony with this finding. Teachers usually integrate more technology in their classes when they possess higher degrees of technology self-efficacy (Zhang and Espinoza, 1998; Lam, 2000). A similar finding was reported by a study conducted by ChanLin, Hong, Horng, Chang and Chu (2006). They stated that all teachers participated in their study showed knowledge and competency in using computer for instructional purposes.

When differences between English and Arabic language teachers are investigated, t-tests showed very few differences between the two groups. Sometimes, English language teachers had higher perception mean scores than Arabic teachers such as 'using terminology related to computers', 'using computer peripherals', and 'using technology for distance education' (see table #1). In other cases, the Arabic teachers had higher mean scores than English language teachers as in 'using technology for data presentation', and 'creating multimedia presentations'. A possible interpretation could be attributed to the nature of the language whether it was being a native or non-native language. A similar finding was reported by Simonsson (2004) about bilingual teachers who indicated certain degrees for using a particular technology-application. Teachers pointed out that they selected their technology-application in accordance with their stated objectives. The descriptive findings indicated that bilingual teachers used different technology- applications to match their needs, interests, beliefs and competencies. ChanLin, Hong, Horng, Chang and Chu (2006) found that the variations in the teachers' integration of technology were related to the differences in their teaching domains. In the UAE context, both Arabic and English teachers have access to technology in almost every class in public schools. However, the little difference in competency in favor of the English teachers might be attributed to their command of English which is considered as an essential element for a successful integration of technology.

Table # 1

Teachers' perceptions of their technology integration competencies

Variables

Overall Mean

English

Mean

Arabic

Mean

T-Test

Using computer programs related to language teaching and learning.

4.4

4.4

4.4

-0.008

Producing technology-based materials such as brochures and pamphlets

4.3

4.2

4.3

1.029

Employing technology to get and assess information retrieved from different resources

4.5

4.5

4.6

1.748

Using technology for data presentation and analysis.

4.1

4.0

4.2

2.365*

Discussion of safety and health issues related to technology use

4.0

3.9

4.1

1.630

Operating a computer using a variety of software packages.

4.4

4.5

4.4

-1.382

Employing terminology related to computers and Employing appropriate technology for written and oral communications.

4.2

4.3

4.2

-2.713*

Using devices such as scanners, digital cameras, and/or video cameras with computers and software.

4.2

4.3

4.1

-3.118*

Utilizing word processing applications.

4.1

4.4

4.0

-4.408*

Employing computers for creating databases

3.8

3.9

3.8

-1.462

Using spreadsheet applications such as MS Excel. .

4.2

4.3

4.2

-0.772

Creating multimedia presentations such as PowerPoint presentations.

4.5

4.5

4.6

2.840*

Using computers for on-line communication (e.g., emails).

4.4

4.4

4.3

-0.773

Employing adaptive & assistive devices for students with special needs.

3.7

3.7

3.7

-0.199

Designing web sites

3.3

3.4

3.3

-1.129

Using distance learning hardware and software.

3.7

3.8

3.6

-2.266*

Using computers to assist students with special needs.

3.7

3.8

3.6

-1.475

Utilizing computers to assess students learning.

4.2

4.3

4.1

-0.895*

Integrating language labs to enhance students' learning

4.2

4.3

4.1

-3.245*

Integrating technology to enhance students' learning

4.4

4.5

4.3

-3.227*

Using computer programs that enhance students' reading ability

4.4

4.4

4.3

-1.257

Note. *p< 0.05

To answer question number 2 "What kinds of barriers do language teachers perceive when integrating technology in their teaching?", results showed that both English and Arabic language teachers almost perceived the same barriers that hindered their integration of technology in teaching. Results from Table #2 showed that teachers were somewhat moderate in their perceptions of the barriers that they encountered when employing technology in education. The overall mean scores ranged between 2.3 and 3.9. The most important barrier acknowledged by teachers was "lack of time needed for preparation and implementation of technology". During the focus group interviews many teachers indicated that they can utilize technology more efficiently if time is taken into account when scheduling their teaching loads. In their study about factors influence on technology integration, ChanLin et al. (2006) reported that teachers stated that the integration of technology in their classes required much more time and effort than doing regular teaching without technology. The least important barrier realized by teachers was "deficiency of knowledge and skills in technology integration". Teachers' argument during the focus group interviews demonstrated clearly that technology competency is not an issue for them but there are other substantial factors such as time availability and efficient equipment maintenance. This indicated that teachers viewed themselves as having the skills to integrate technology in teaching languages, but they needed the right assistance to overcome obstacles like the ones stated above. Though the analysis of the questionnaire showed that teachers possess the necessary competencies to integrate technology in their classes, they admitted during the interview-conferences that they still need more workshops and training in using certain sophisticated programs which proved to have the power of assisting teaching and learning languages.

Table # 2

Technology integration barriers

Variables

Overall Mean

English

Mean

Arabic

Mean

T-test

Lack of time needed for preparation and implementation of technology

3.9

3.9

4.0

0.583

Dearth of technology resources at schools

3.3

3.3

3.3

0.117

Insufficient lab-equipment

3.4

3.4

3.3

-0.483

Scarcity of labs' qualified staff

3.1

3.0

3.0

-0.227

Curricula barriers

3.2

3.3

3.2

-1.096

Insufficient encouragement

2.9

2.8

3.0

1.656

Deficiency of knowledge and skills in technology integration

2.3

2.3

2.3

-0.314

Lack of teacher training workshops

3.3

3.3

3.2

-0.716

Dearth of technologies needed for teaching languages

3.3

3.3

3.3

0.131

Shortage of equipment and technology maintenance

3.1

3.2

3.0

-1.272

Lack of students' desire for technology integration

2.8

2.8

2.8

0.189

To answer question number 3 "What kinds of incentives do teachers anticipate to receive as a result of integrating technology in language teaching?", results showed that both English and Arabic language teachers highly regarded the importance of incentives for successful technology integration (see Table 3). The mean scores for all items were 4.4 and above on a 5-point scale. This indicated that teachers regarded having an incentive such as 'free or discounted computers', 'positive evaluations', 'release time', or 'salary increment' as very critical for successful technology integration in teaching. Solid support for this point was raised during some of the focus-group sessions when a considerable number of Arabic and English teachers expressed their concerns about the availability of time for using technology. For those teachers, using technology required them to spend a lot of time in preparing and setting up equipment. For this reason, they thought that giving release time to those teachers who used technology was a reasonable incentive. A similar finding about teachers' concerns of time constraints was highlighted in a study carried out by ChanLin et al. (2006) about factors influencing the utilization of technology. They stated that teachers felt that the integration of technology in classroom instruction needed more time and effort. Regarding differences between English and Arabic teachers, t-test showed two significant differences in favor of Arabic teachers. Arabic teachers mean scores on 'participation in special workshops', and 'having school or educational zone recognition' were significantly higher than the mean scores of English teachers. In their study Yang and Huang (2008) argued that although teachers believed that students might benefit from the utilization of technology in instruction, they faced barriers that made integration difficult to implement. Teachers highlighted barriers such as lack of appropriate training workshop, lack of personal guidance and consultancy, lack of suitable instructional software and hardware and time constraints. The barriers (lack of time, lack of training workshops, lack of encouragement and support) indicated in the present study were found to be similar to those found in previous research (Beckwith, 2001; Guha, 2001; Smith, 2001; Butler and Sellbom, 2002; Yang and Huang, 2008; Al-Senaidi et al. 2009).

Table # 3

Teachers' Perceptions of incentives that they should get to integrate technology in teaching languages

Variables

Overall Mean

English

Mean

Arabic

Mean

T-test

Free or discounted personal computers

4.5

4.4

4.5

1.279

Participating in special workshops

4.5

4.4

4.5

2.827*

Additional resources for their classroom

4.4

4.4

4.5

0.901

Positive evaluations

4.4

4.4

4.5

0.548

School or educational zone recognition

4.5

4.4

4.6

2.676*

Free software.

4.4

4.4

4.4

0.214

Release time

4.6

4.5

4.6

1.729

Salary increment

4.5

4.5

4.6

1.109

Mentor teacher designation (or similar designation(

4.6

4.6

4.6

0.025

To answer question number 4 "How do teachers view their students' use of technology in the classroom to enhance language learning?", results showed different degrees of perceptions ranging from moderate to high regardless of the language (English versus Arabic). The results did not show any significant differences between the two groups of teachers. The overall mean scores for students' technology use in the classroom and at computer and/or language labs were 4.1 and 4.0 (see Table 4). In a previous study, Bungum (2006) reported that teachers showed a high appreciation for the high products made by the students when they use technology. However, the researcher expressed concerns about the overreliance of teachers on a heavily technology instructional method which was time consuming and neglecting salient elements specified in the formal curriculum. In Bungum's (2006) study, teachers decided to allow students to spend the necessary time to make quality products.

Similarly, the mean scores on the effect of technology on students' interaction, independence, and involvement were respectively high (4.2, 4.0, and 4.1). There are indications in the literature demonstrating that students are continuously increasing their motivation, satisfying their curiosity, learning better and accomplishing various learning outcomes when technology was integrated into the curriculum (; Hinson, 2005; ChanLin et al. 2006). This result coincided with Schofield and Davidson's (2003) finding which indicated that students became more self-directed learners and gained more control over content when technology was used. On the other hand, the teachers' mean scores on other items related to technology use and effect on learning were moderate and sometimes approaching neutral such as 'using technology to participate in distance learning activities', and 'using technology to develop language skills. A possible interpretation could be that language teachers needed their students' to use computers and technology in general in a hand-on fashion such as using language labs. Also, during focus group interview sessions some teachers expressed their concerns about the drawbacks of technology. Both groups of Arabic and English teachers believed that technology had the power to deviate the attention of both teachers and students from what was initially planned in the curriculum.

Table # 4

Teachers' perceptions of their students' manipulation of technology in classrooms

Variables

Overall Mean

English

Mean

Arabic

Mean

T-test

Students' use of technology at computer and/or language labs.

4.0

4.0

4.0

-0.335

In-class use of technology by students to learn different language skills.

4.1

4.1

4.1

0.679

Employing technology to participate in distance learning activities with fellow students from other schools.

3.4

3.4

3.4

-0.071

Using computer to develop their language skills.

3.8

3.8

3.8

-0.419

Increasing different level of students' interaction as a result of using technology.

4.2

4.2

4.3

0.938

Becoming more independent as a result of using different dictionaries.

4.0

4.0

4.0

0.096

More engagement in different activities outside the school a result of using technology.

3.8

3.8

3.9

0.994

Becoming more involved a result of using technology.

4.1

4.1

4.2

0.585

To answer question number 5 "What kind of technology do teachers prefer to use in teaching languages?", results showed that the kind of technology preferred by teachers depends on its application to teaching languages. The overall mean scores for all teachers ranged from 3.6 to 4.5 on a 5-point scale. Results also showed some significant differences between English and Arabic language teachers. This could be easily explained by the fact that Arabic is a native language while English is taught as an EFL language. Looking at Table 5, we see that the mean score for using videotapes in teaching is significantly higher for Arabic teachers than for English (4.0 versus 3.8). This may be due to the efficacy and viability of teaching first and second languages. Essentially, this perception was supported by the results of the focus group interviews. During the focus-group interviews both Arabic and English teachers specified that they video-tape their students while they are in action during different tasks such as participating in a dialogue or reporting a group's answer. In their views, the purpose of such activity is to provide students with valuable opportunity to view themselves in action and reflect on their own performance. This result was supported by Ma, Andersson and Streith (2005) who reported in their study that teachers' perceived usefulness of technology contributed to their enthusiasm to use computer for classroom instructional purposes.

Contrarily, results showed significant differences in favor of English teachers in using email, dictionaries and encyclopedias, language labs, and electronic forums. The means scores for those variables were 3.9, 4.0, 3.8, and 3.6 respectively as opposed to 3.4, 3.8, 3.4, and 3.5 for Arabic teachers. This indicates that English language teachers need to provide their students with more opportunities to practice and use the language since English is an EFL language for almost all students. However, the continuous overuse of technology might result in developing a negative attitude toward it. In their study, McKinnon, Nolan, and Sinclair (2000) reported that students' motivation and attitudes toward technology decreased once the use of computer became part of the daily classroom instructional routine.

Table # 5

Teachers' perceptions of their manipulation of technology tools in the classrooms

Variables

Overall Mean

English

Mean

Arabic

Mean

T-test

Language teaching programs

4.1

4.1

4.2

0.670

Video tapes

3.9

3.8

4.0

2.084*

Over Head and Opaque Projectors

4.4

4.3

4.4

0.283

TV

3.8

3.7

3.8

0.977

Email

3.6

3.9

3.4

-4.641*

www

4.2

4.3

4.2

-1.574

Distance -training sessions

3.7

3.7

3.6

-0.181

Resources from local environment

4.2

4.2

4.1

-0.750

Smart and interactive boards

3.7

3.7

3.7

-0.125

Chat rooms and discussion boards

3.4

3.3

3.4

1.059

Newsgroups

3.6

3.6

3.6

0.049

Audio tapes

4.2

4.3

4.2

-1.547

Dictionaries, encyclopedias

3.9

4.0

3.8

-2.028*

Language labs

3.6

3.8

3.4

-4.162*

Electronic forums

3.6

3.6

3.5

-1.219*

To answer question number 6 "How do teachers view the use of technology in enhancing language teaching and learning?", the results demonstrated that both Arabic and English teachers appreciated the role of technology in promoting teaching and learning. The overall mean scores for both languages ranged from 4.1 to 4.5 on a 5 point scale. This gave a hint that many teachers viewed technology as an essential requirement for their classes. A similar result was reported by Wong et al. (2006) about teachers' positive perceptions about the use of computer in supporting the face-to-face teaching and learning in 'project work' classroom. In regard to differences between results, table #6 showed five main significant means in favor of English teachers (4.4, 4.5, 4.4, 4,4 & 4.3) as opposed to those of Arabic teachers' low means (4.3, 4.3, 4.2, 4.2 & 4.1). This could explain the fact that English teachers appreciated a number of technological facilities more than Arabic teachers as they needed their students to have continuous contact with the foreign language by using different means. English teachers, for example, revealed that technology assisted in abandoning the traditional approaches and developing more interactive ways in learning languages (see table #6). During the focus group interview sessions many teachers asserted that technology has become essential in their daily teaching activities. Teachers usually teach in the same way they were taught but technology provides them with valuable chance to review their teaching. Teachers' views over the last two decades have changed as a result of changing the methods of conducting teacher-training programs (Abate, 2000; Wang, 2002).

However, a significant number of English teachers argued that they were encouraged by the availability of technology in English programs to utilize technology for different purposes. The mean score for using pronunciation dictionaries (4.4) was higher for the English teachers than that of the Arabic teachers (4.2). More English teachers thought that technology provides students with concrete tools to use off-line as well as online pronunciation dictionaries to check and learn the correct utterances of new words. This significant result in favor of English teachers might be attributed to the fact that Arabic is the first language of the learners and they rarely encounter a pronunciation problem that may need to be resolved in that way. This may also be attributed to the fact that Arabic pronunciation dictionaries are scarcely found either off-line or online. It is obvious here that the use of technology by Arabic teachers for substantial learning and teaching activities was very modest. They mainly used computer to help them prepare for their instruction. A similar conclusion was made by Yang and Huang (2008) who found that teachers used technology mainly to prepare their teaching activities and did not pay much attention to the utilization of technology in promoting crucial instructional activities. ChanLin, et al. (2006), however, argued that teachers used technology to prepare test, activities and handouts because they wanted their teaching to be diverse and creative. They also argued that computer might be employed as a self-monitoring instrument to encourage students to make more creative efforts.

Table # 6

Role of technology in enhancing language teaching and learning

Variables

Overall Mean

English

Mean

Arabic

Mean

T-test

Using technology helps students acquire languages.

4.4

4.4

4.4

0.116

Technology assists students in improving their academic achievement and grades.

4.3

4.2

4.3

1.301

Students' language proficiency level improves as a result of using technology.

4.2

4.3

4.1

-1.812

Technology assists in making language learning interesting and enjoyable.

4.4

4.4

4.4

0.997

Students' motivation increases as a result of using technology in teaching.

4.4

4.5

4.4

-1.102

Technology assists in activating learning during language classes.

4.4

4.4

4.3

-2.215*

Technology helps students improve their language skills and knowledge.

4.4

4.4

4.4

-0.232

Technology provides opportunities for using different strategies in learning languages.

4.3

4.4

4.3

-1.090

Technology helps in integrating different language activities.

4.3

4.3

4.3

-0.935

Technology assists in learning the language content in the classroom.

4.2

4.2

4.2

-0.326

Technology helps in promoting cooperative activities during language learning.

4.2

4.2

4.2

1.358

Technology assists in supporting project activities and problem-solving.

4.1

4.1

4.1

-0.012

Technology helps in evaluating classroom activities and saving different files.

4.4

4.4

4.4

-1.138

Technology helps students meet their different language needs in the classroom.

4.3

4.3

4.3

0.038

Technology assists in abandoning the traditional approaches and developing more interactive ways in teaching and learning languages

4.4

4.5

4.3

-2.390*

Technology plays a great role in learning the different language skills.

4.3

4.4

4.2

-2.647*

Technology provides students with tools for using electronic pronunciation dictionaries.

4.3

4.4

4.2

-3.205*

Technology offers electronic exercises that promote autonomous learning.

4.3

4.3

4.3

-1.037

Technology assists in developing electronic exams and marking them in the same way.

4.2

4.3

4.1

-2.101*

Conclusion

This study had examined teachers' perceptions about integrating instructional technology in both Arabic and English classes in K-12 schools in the UAE. The analysis of both quantitative and qualitative data revealed a number of significant results about teachers' perceptions toward the integration of instructional technology in their classes. The overall findings emphasized the critical role of technology in first and second language teaching and learning. One of the prominent results is that teachers asserted the unavoidable impact of technology on their own practices and on that of their students. Technology is seen to assist in abandoning the traditional methods of teaching and learning and embracing those ways which have proved to boost students' motivation and elevate the amount and quality of their education. Another vital result was that teachers showed willingness to accelerate the integration of technology in their classes to improve language teaching and learning. However, time and incentive variables were seen by teachers as preconditions for more technology integration. In conclusion, although this study has made some contribution, the topic needs to be examined further to investigate the impact of technology integration on language education in general and students' language proficiency in particular. Consequently, future studies in the same line will unquestionably contribute to provide concrete understanding into the role of technology integration in ESL/EFL and first language teaching and learning.

Recommendations

1. Conducting training workshops for both Arabic and English teachers to improve their technology integration skills.

2. Rewarding all teachers who integrate technology in their classes.

3. Proving all schools with technology infrastructure such as language labs, data projectors, software-programs, access to Internet facilities, etc.

4. Providing efficient maintenance for technology equipment.

5. Allocating enough budgets for technology maintenance.

Suggestions for Future Studies

1. Exploring the impact of technology integration on students' achievement.

2. Investigating the utilization of technology integration by male and female teachers

3. Examining technology integration inside and/or outside classrooms.

4. Investigating students' perceptions about technology integration.

5. Exploring technology integration in public schools versus private schools.

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