The association of ICT and English in last few years had made rapid changes in the presentation of curriculum in various aspects. Practitioners, theorists and researchers have started to pay serious attention to the challenges of the new technology and these challenges and opportunities that new technology presents have resulted English teachers into a new dimension.
There are different issues related to the relationship of ICT and English which consists of complex implications for classroom teaching and initial teacher education. Student teachers who play a vital role in delivering ESL have wide range of experiences and level of expertise in ICT. My aim is to enable student teachers to be aware of these important issues and have the skills, knowledge and critical understanding to respond teaching of English through ICT.
Initially, I perform analysis of the changing nature of ESL in the light of current technology advancement. Then, explore the interpretations of the role of ICT in teaching English, the provision made by ICT in college and policy and classroom practice in the area of the curriculum.
Changing nature of ESL at present
Recent years have seen a move from the predominance of the printed test to varied sites for textual production, including web-based environments, mobile phones and computers games. Screen based texts are characterized by varied and densely interrelation multimodal communication with an increasing emphasis on visual aspects of texts, such as layout use of font and images and the incorporation of sound, animation and hyperlinks. Digital technology has also made it easier to experiment the text production and to communicate rapidly with a range of familiar and unfamiliar audiences.
ESL teachers have to consider how to teach language literacy and technological skills so that learners can make effective use of ICT. When teachers develop and implement an electronic literacy approach, they must address a number of questions:
How should ESL teachers make the best use of new online opportunities to maximize language study and practice while also helping students develop computer-based communication and literacy skills?
What strategies for communicating and networking should students be taught?
What goals should language teacher aim for and what kinds of online projects could students carry out to accomplish those goals?
Which are the most crucial electronic resources and tools that teachers should learn about so that they can teach them to their students?
How can teachers encourage students to become autonomous learners who can continue to learn how to communicate, conduct research and present their ideas effectively using information communication technology beyond the confines of the class or semester? (cited in Shetzer & Warschauer, 2000, 171-172)
The purpose of this study was to explore the use of the Internet in vocational high-school English learning environments in a specific socio-cultural context including in the physical world and in cyberspace. The results of the in-depth study aim to shed light on the combinations of English language and ICT that can both enhance vocational high-school students’ technological competence as well as facilitate English language acquisition and applications in an authentic situation.
Specific questions explored in the study include the following:
â€¢ Can students learn the functions of the Internet via the English language and
Significantly improve their English e-talk on the Internet?
â€¢ What are the benefits or difficulties with the use of Information Communication Technology in the teaching of English as a Second Language?
â€¢ What are the perceptions of both teacher and students regarding the use of the Internet in the class?
â€¢ What are the issues and challenges that arise in the integration of the Internet in English learning contexts?
â€¢ Can students feel comfortable communicating in English on the Internet? Can the design of the Internet and English class improve their language proficiency and grammatical usage?
The setting for the study
The research study was conducted at a vocational high school________________ The course was named ‘Internet and English’; its major objective was to help vocational high school students learn English in a natural setting with the assistance of ICT.
This course used various methods to facilitate students’ Internet usage by way of English writing. A ______-hour on-line lecture plus a computer session was held on Tuesdays in a computer lab where ______ Personal Computers were set-up and networked. In the lab the teacher lectured on some introductory aspects of the Internet and its functions and at the same time demonstrated its uses and gave students opportunities for practice using English and exploring the Internet. In addition to the weekly lecture and computer session, the after-class activities and assigned tasks were required of each student. To carry out the after-class projects and assignments, the students therefore needed to connect to the Internet and search for the required materials in response to the teacher’s weekly questions and, meanwhile, they were required to use English to communicate with the teachers as well as with the other classmates.
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Although ICT facilities and support were limited in the vocational school studied, the English teacher wanted to overcome the barrier by the inclusion of some outside-campus network resources in his class. A course syllabus, updated announcements, handouts, profiles of the teacher and the students, and class presentations, pictures and recommended relevant web resources were all converged in colourful words on the website.
Contents of the project
English was the main language used throughout class activities, which included English website information collection, topic-centred discussion, on-line communication, and email exchange.
the course used four major tools-the World-wide web, Newsgroups, Chat-rooms, and email to cultivate students’ network accessibility and language expressions/utterances so that the course was given primarily in four segments. First, for the World-wide web section, Project A – self introduction and Project B – website recommendation were their assigned tasks. Second, in the Newsgroup section, the teacher asked students to subscribe to the newsgroups they were interested in and then used the chat messenger to post articles and questions and required students to either answer the questions or discuss the given topics in English. Third, in the Chat section, the students were allowed to freely ‘e-talk’ about whatever interested them in the chat room in chat messanger. Through the different presentation formats of online tutoring, online discussion, and online debate, they were given different objectives each time.
Finally, in the email section, students learned the basic commands by using Outlook and basic ideas about email user interface design and the system setup and some key functions (POP setup, web-mail, filtering, and so on).
The participants in this study were ______ students: ____22 females
and _____7 male students plus the_______ young male teacher. To take the elective course
‘Internet and English’, certain prerequisites were required. For instance, the students
needed to have previously taken ‘Introduction to Computer Science’ and
‘Applications of Computer Science’, which were the first-year and second-year
For this course students were assessed as follows: 20% for class participation, 20%
for homework exercises, 30% for the combined score on the 1st and 2nd midterm
exams, and 30% for the final exam. Projects A and B were counted as the scores of
the 1st midterm. The quality as well as the quantity of each student’s specific online
utterances – their portfolio – was used as students’ 2nd midterm scores. The Chat
performance in the chat messanger was used for the final exam grades. The Final exam
consisted of an article on the topic ‘ How do I perceive Internet and English ‘;
students were instructed to talk about the current semester only and to include three
parts: my impression of this class ; what I have learned from this course and my
The study employed both qualitative and quantitative methods. The researcher used
a multi-method approach to document and evaluate the process of integration of the
Internet in the English learning settings, including the collection of their electronic
data from chats, discussions, dialogues and email exchanges on the Internet,
observations of their online classroom activities, formal and informal interviews
with the instructor. A post-class questionnaire was administered to the participants
at the end of this class. In addition, a student who had a special need for remedial
instruction had actively interacted with the English teacher via email communication
throughout most of semester. The student’s email exchanges with the teacher were
used as a case study.
Data collected for the studies included authentic email messages, questionnaires,
classroom observations, formal and informal interviews, and student logs.
Descriptive statistical information was provided for cross-referencing. The study
was conducted in a natural learning setting. None of the student subjects were aware
of being observed and analysed during the data collection procedures.
Overall results of the use of ICT in the class
The teacher used an open-ended question to solicit student overall responses to the
use of information communication technology in the class. This question was, ‘ Do
you think Internet and English can really improve your English? Tell me why. ‘ Most
students thought the Internet was an interesting and useful tool in their Internet and
English class (Table 1).
Table 1. Data from the open-ended question
Positive reactions (19 out of 23 – 82.16%) Negative reactions 3 out of 23 (13%)
Being able to practice typing 5 Not liking the Internet 1
Learning more English 4 Too much vocabulary resulting in
Being more motivated in learning new vocabulary 4 learning pressure 1
Being able to learn more about computers 4 The fast-paced schedule of the class 1
Communicating with others using emails and making
friends from other countries 4
Looking for information on the Internet and enhancing
reading comprehension by materials on the Internet 3
Meeting people 2
Talking on line 1
Being able to correct mistakes instantly 1
The ‘ Tell me why ‘ self-report data were used for further analysis. The positive
perception of Internet use could stem from two sources. First, due to the convenient
access provided by the Internet, students were able to make foreign friends. Second,
in the process of navigating the webpages, the chances of directly reading English
and learning new vocabulary, sentence patterns, and grammatical patterns increased.
Moreover, the immediacy of the online tutoring enabled the teacher to correct their
mistakes quickly. The other advantages include the acquisition of relevant
Online discourse data analysis
The data for quantitative analysis were gathered from the Chat function in
chatmessanger, which generally meant participating in online tutoring and online
debates. Also, the data from both the midterm exam and final exam in the first
semester were collected for analysis. In online tutoring and online debate, not every
student wrote down his or her responses. Although five students were completely
silent, the other 24 students had at least one sentence (here one sentence means an
utterance with ‘a period’ or ‘a question mark’ at the end) in the online chatting.
However, in online debate, which discussed the interesting topic of ‘having a girl
friend or a boy friend’, the volume of discourse obviously increased by an average
of six sentences, and that was five times as many as the very first time, when they
were required to talk about ‘a good teacher’. Most students, who had already e-
talked the first time, were more likely to write more than the second time. As for the
2nd midterm exam and final exam, since the written records were used for students’
grades, every student was mandated to express his or her opinions in order to gain
points. Eventually the volume of the discourse resulted in an average of
approximately 15 sentences in final exam. This was two and half times as many as
in the midterm exam.
When addressing the reasons for the increase in students’ discourse volume, the
researcher found that students’ gradual increasing familiarity with the computer
commands and the digital environment contributed to the increased number of their
expressions. Moreover, the topics for discussion which appeared to be interesting,
controversial or abundant in readily available online information also resulted in an
increase in the number of sentences.
Non-online discourse data analysis based on two projects
In addition to the online data, non-online data were collected from Project A and
Project B for analysis. For Project A, in order to encourage students to begin their
English writing, the English teacher purposefully used ‘self-introduction’ as an
introductory and familiar topic. Thus each student was asked to use English to
introduce himself/herself. For Project B, each student had to browse the English
resources on the Internet and then recommended some websites as their favourites
and to give reasons for their recommendation. Consequently, the average number of
sentences produced in Project A was eight, and this was about four times as many as
the number produced for Project B. Further analysis of the in-depth data revealed
that Project A was a self-introduction and there were several basic items that the
students could always include in their written presentations, such as blood type, sign
of Zodiac, and favourite sports. On the other hand, Project B asked students to
recommend a web site that they found interesting. This topic was of wide scope and
more challenging than Project A.
Student perceptions of the use of ICT in English learning
In order to understand students’ perception of learning English by using the Internet
and the impact of the Internet on English learning as well, a questionnaire was
administered to the students shortly before the end of the first semester in order to
collect their demographic information and their responses to the use of the Internet
in this English class. The questionnaire was composed of three parts: personal data;
experience in using a network computer; and ten 5-point-Likert-scale questions. A
general question was given at the beginning of the questionnaire and 10 more
corresponding statements followed with choices. A total of 26 questionnaires out of
29 were collected and used for analysis. The statistical results of this questionnaire
are presented below (Table 5).
What do you think might be the reasons that the Internet could facilitate English learning?
(1-Totally Disagree; 2-Strongly Disagree; 3-Agree; 4-Strongly Agree; and 5–Totally Agree)
Statements 1 2 3 4 5 Rank
1. The teacher interacted with students on the 0 3.8% 57.7% 15.4% 23.1% 1
Internet so that I feel less pressured in class. 3.8% 94.2%
2. I can learn new vocabulary, sentence patterns, 0 19.2% 57.7% 15.4% 7.7% 8
and grammar on the Internet. 19.2% 81.8%
3. Anonymous communication makes me less afraid 3.8% 3.8% 42.3% 15.4% 34.6% 2
of making mistakes in English chatting. 7.6% 92.4%
4. I could learn good English sentences from others. 3.8% 3.8% 30.8% 38.5% 23.1% 2
5. I don’t need to speak English in front of my 7.7% 26.9% 26.9% 34.6% 3.8% 9
classmates. Instead, typing in front of the 34.6% 65.4%
computer screen reduces my stress.
6. Learning English won’t be that boring since I 3.8% 7.7% 38.5% 15.4% 34.6% 5
could find some intriguing English information 11.5% 88.5%
on the Internet quickly
7. I could improve my English response speed since 7.7% 26.9% 30.8% 30.8% 3.8% 10
online chatting in English requires instantly 34.6% 63.8%
answering in English.
8. I could make key/pen pals in foreign countries 3.8% 3.8% 23.1% 30.8% 38.5% 2
and practice English writing. 7.6% 92.4%
9. I could often practice English since English is 0 11.5% 26.9% 38.5% 23.1% 5
the common language on the Internet. 11.5% 88.5%
10. I could freely practice English because I could 3.8% 11.5% 34.6% 26.9% 23.1% 7
build up my little virtual world on the 15.3% 84.7%
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