Dear Mr. Little,
I was excited after reading your article “Schools Fuel Demand for High-Tech Language Labs: Tools emphasize speaking, recording (Davis, 2010).” I am the technology coordinator for a local school district so this article truly piqued my interest. I noted your emphasis on the affordances of the new language labs for increased practice time and attention but that little was mentioned about social collaboration and action-based learning.
My general impression of your article was that using high-tech computer labs for teaching and learning any language is efficient and beneficial. Instead of direct teacher-driven classroom instruction, students can experience a different medium of learning through technology. Some good points of using a language lab is that it presents itself as a more intimate environment, gives positive motivation, and provides unlimited resources, which allows students to learn. Students, therefore, can jump into the computer world where they cannot only use it for pleasure and entertainment but also for educational purposes such as learning a new language. Additionally, it can help to stimulate the brain and excite the students’ concentration levels when they lean new things in fun ways. In other words, using the computer lab makes it possible for students to feel comfortable because they are already exposed to using all high-tech devices in their everyday lives, such as cellular phones, computers and game machines, televisions, and any number of multimedia devices. Mainly, both teachers and students can use technology, especially the language labs to learn and teach language, but at the same time, it can also be used for teaching and learning other subjects and related activities.
In my school district, I am looking for ways to implement new technologies to improve learning and increase efficiency. At the same time, we as educators need to mindful to see beyond the benefits and watch for the potential disadvantages such as boredom and monotony leading to a loss of interest.
However, there are some other things to be considered. For example, students might not attend a boring language lab class in favor of a more important traditional “long period of listening” class. Another example would be that if they use the lab only, they lose interaction between the teacher and other students in the classroom. Integrating additional interactive and collaborative teaching methods will increase students interests and make them participate actively as their own action based learning while they get affordance through social networking like Facebook or Twitter.
One last thought is that what we should not forget that using a language lab is a part of the whole picture to be drawn so as in an education, its role is that of a branch, not the trunk of the tree.
Thank you for taking the time to read my letter. Anything my team and I can do to improve our students’ language learning can only be beneficial and, considering your expertise on the subject, I humbly solicit your thoughts.
Min S. Kim
Davis, M. (2010). Schools fuel demand for high-tech language labs: Tools emphasize speaking, recording. Retrieved from http://www.edweek.org/dd/articles/2010/01/08/02languagelabs.h03.html?qs=language+technology
Lier, L. V. (2004). Emergence and affordance, the ecology and semiotics of language learning, Vol 3, 79-105, retrieved from http://www.springerlink.com/content/g6583640181066v7/
Kessler, G. (2009), Students-initiate attention to from in wiki-based collaborative writing, Language Learning & Technology, Vol 13, 1, retrieved from http://llt.msu.edu/vol13num1/kessler.pdf
Chun, D. M. (2001). Computer Assisted Language Learning, retrieved from http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/title~content=t716100697
Lier, L. V. (2007). Action-Based Teaching, Autonomy, and Identity