Abstract: ICT is of utmost relevance ,either in the process of learning or teaching providing both teachers and students with multimedia materials and a real life learning environment. The use of computers and the internet in education, more specifically in teaching English, increases very fast once with any technological progress. One essential reason of using IT tools in classroom is to stimulate students to take the initiative to study and fully exploit this authentic source of information in order to improve their language level.
Keywords: education, ICT, digital technologies, computer-assisted instruction.
1. Definition of ICT
ICT stands for information and communications technology and may be defined as a “diverse set of technological tools and resources used to communicate, and to create, disseminate, store, and manage information” (Blurton, C. (1999), New Directions of ICT – Use in Education, bhttp://www.unesco.org/education/educprog/lwf/dl/edict.pdf)
The ICTs comprise computers, the internet, broadcasting technologies such as radio television, telephony; a term connected to ICT is Information Technology, that is IT. Generally IT is a term referring to the technical possibilities that were achieved through progress within computer technology and telecommunication. Moreover, ICT emphasizes the importance of communication technology a little more than does the term IT.
On the whole, both terms IT and ICT refer to computer technology that enables the collection, storage and handling of information in the form of digital data such as text, speech, sound, images and films(gupea.ub.gu.se/bitstream/2077/35169/1/gupea_2077_35169_1.pdf).
The main advantages of using ICT tools for education are the following:
- Images can easily be used in teaching and improve the retentive memory of students;
- Teachers can easily explain complex instructions and ensure students’ comprehension;
- Teachers are able to create interactive classes and make the lessons more enjoyable, which could improve student attendance and concentration (elmoglobal.com/en/html/ict/01.aspx);
The disadvantages of using ICT tools for education are as follows:
- Setting up the devices can be very troublesome;
- Too expensive to afford;
- Hard for teachers to use with a lack of experience using ICT tools (source: elmoglobal.com/en/html/ict/01.aspx).
2. Reasons for using the internet in the classroom
English teaching supposes that “teachers engage in classroom teaching according to the real world”( Ibidem, p. 379). Moreover, the essential materials and the specific atmosphere stimulate students to take the initiative to study.
Using the internet in the classroom implies the following reasons:
- Systematization: “the aim of English teaching is to provide students with such a learning environment and conditions”(Ibidem, p. 379).
- Authenticity: teachers should use multimedia tools in order to create materials and real contexts and give background information to students to get them engaged in the topic.
- Appropriateness: “appropriate witness of the type and amount of material, as well as making good use of time, can be more effective when learning English through multimedia language teaching”(Ibidem, p. 380).
- Interactivity: “During the process of in-classroom English multimedia teaching, it is believed that the goal of interaction between teachers and students is to achieve exchanges in the real language context. Teaching content should be designed with consideration of how to achieve interaction between teachers and students, among students themselves, and between students and modern technology. This method of language teaching provides various ways to promote the growth of students’ creativity, cooperation, and interaction. It also makes multimedia language teaching and learning active and vivid, from which we can see that the interactive exchange of information reflects the characteristics and advantages of multimedia teaching in context creation”(Ibidem, p. 380).
- Coordination: “During the process of optimizing multimedia English teaching in context creation, it is inappropriate to change the classroom into a platform for information exchange between students and modern machinery. Attention should be paid to coordination between teachers and students, teaching materials and methods, theory and practice and multimedia teaching and the real learning environment”(Ibidem, p. 380).
- Pluralism: involves teachers’ choosing and creating appropriate but comprehensive educational methods in order to promote students’ progress, given the educational content, their interests, intelligence and different characteristics. (download.portalgaruda.org/article.php?article=158602&val=5966&title=Multi%20Media%20For%20Receptive%20And%20Productive%20Second%20And%20Foreign%20Language%20Skill%20Development).
“English teachers should constantly make use of the advantages of multimedia teaching to update English teaching concepts and teaching strategies, and produce scenario-style, animation-style, case-style, analogue-style, and game-show-style films as self-supporting material to inspire students” (Ibidem, p. 380).
- Intelligibility: “An effective way to understand the discourse is to choose and establish an appropriate context to get people involved in the context. This includes communicative context, communicative environment, and communication based on common sense. English teachers should socialize and contextualize the multimedia classroom, as well as trying to transplant the real use of English into an in-classroom multimedia environment to improve students’ interpretative skills. It is helpful for teachers to use the characteristics of contexts in teaching materials to enable students to learn when and where they should speak English in line with the discourse and ultimately improve their English language skills. Teachers can also use multimedia to help students to predict the text in order to grasp the context and enhance their comprehensive skills. From a practical context to language understanding and usage based on different types of training, students may improve their communicative competence effectively in different contexts”(Ibidem, p. 380).
- Penetrability: “To achieve the success of multimedia English teaching in context creation, English teachers should involve their own sincere feelings in the classroom and make use of multimedia to stimulate students’ emotions. This is a joint method, where the two elements complement each other to promote and optimize the context creation of multimedia English teaching, which is one of the internal driving forces of students’ learning interest”(Ibidem,p. 380).
3. Uses of computers and the internet
Harmer acknowledges that the use of computers and the internet in education and particularly in teaching English, increases very quickly once with any technological progress. According to Harmer the major uses for computers and the internet in language teaching are the following:
- Reference, one main use of computers, either through the Internet or on CDs or DVDs, is as a reference instrument which can be related to teaching, the English language or general facts about the world and all kinds of other information available. Such availability of research material – in Harmer’s vision-means that teachers can get students to work on the computer to get ready for different tasks and projects looking for references in textbooks, or finding out about topics they show interest in. Many programs have extraordinary visuals and sound which make the material very interesting and attractive, but teachers should supervise all activities for students not to be distracted by some other search materials and forget about the initial given task.
- Teaching and testing programs: “language teaching software packages, often supplied on CD-ROM, offer students the chance to study conversations and texts, to do grammar and vocabulary exercises, and even to listen to texts and record their own voices”(Harmer, J. (2001), The Practice of English LanguageTeaching, 3rdEdition, England, PearsonEducation Limited, p. 149).
“A trend which will almost certainly gather pace is the attachment of CD-ROM-based packages to accompany coursebooks, full of extra input material and exercises. Some of these will be available, too, on the Internet. However, there are also web sites where students can sign up for complete self-study courses, which include all the regular features of a coursebook together with the possibility of sending work to a tutor who will monitor progress” (Ibidem, p. 150).
- E-mail exchange: this way permitting easy access to people all over the world. Much more, the contact between different schools and that one among students from different countries to write e-mails to each other, have increased students’ motivation about learning English.Since e-mailing promotes an informal style resembling speaking, giving students the chance to improve communication and fluency in writing, yet, “it may not enhance accuracy or help students to write in more than one or two genres”(Ibidem, p. 150).
- Web sites offer lots of information, but there are also numerous sites specially designed for students of English where they can browse around reading different texts, playing games or exchange e-mails and do exercises.Harmer points out that “some teachers plan whole lessons around the Internet”(Ibidem, p. 151). “The potential is almost literally endless; training students to use that potential sensibly will be of great benefit to them, especially if and when they wish to continue studying on their own”(Ibidem, p. 151).
- Homegrown materials production-suppose a wide variety of materials: from grammar worksheets, word/sentence cards up to photocopied texts or texts taken from the Internet that we create on our own.
According to Harmer, when teachers make their own legible, clear and attractive materials for teaching purposes, they may follow the following five-stage procedure.
- Planning: homegrown materials begin with planning, more specifically, teachers have to decide on their aims, objectives, activities they want to involve students in, how to group them, and what the content of their materials should be. Once all this planned they can go on producing the materials, taking into account the above mentioned features.
- Trialing: in Harmer’s view, it is vital for teachers to try out the material before integrating it into the lesson by having a colleague or a student to spot possible mistakes in order to avoid problems.
- Evaluating: once the material is produced and trialed, teachers should integrate it into the lesson, use it and evaluate its appropriacy. That way teachers can recreate it for future use.
- Classifying: when teachers have used material in the classroom they have to find ways of storing it and classifying it so as to be at hand whenever they need it. Organizing material is “a matter of personal preference and style” (Ibidem, p. 153) in the end.
4. The role of computers and the internet in classroom work
In Scrivener’s view, lots of teachers today have access to computers and the Internet, whether in the computer science lab or at least one in each classroom. Computers are more than essential for home study, self-access and even distance learning. In his view, teachers have an infinite number of ways to exploit computers in classroom work and even if there are no special programs, yet, there are so many useful things they can do with just a computer and standard office-user software. Moreover, Scrivener brings about some suggestions about using computers with students as follows:
• Teachers often consider a computer lesson, or planning lessons that involve computer usage for a short time, for example, „ten minutes writing a text as follow-on from a previous classroom activity,and then printing it out for others to read”(Scrivener, J. (2005), Learning Teaching – a guidebook for English language teachers, second edition, UK, Macmillan Publishers Limited, p. 354).
• “Up to three or four students share a single terminal, with one typing and the others suggesting ideas, reading and checking”(Ibidem, p. 354); with more students it would be difficult to keep them engaged and motivated.
• If there is only one computer in the classroom, teachers should consider that all students “work on different things at different times so that each pair/group gets to work for a short time” (Ibidem, p. 354) on the computer.
• Computer-based reference materials such as dictionaries and encyclopedias represent useful classroom resources, permitting students to rapidly check things during lesson time.
• Writing texts: since writing seems to be the best use of computers, Scrivener suggests teachers to let students work on a text they have to produce have a text on the computer.” Three or four students could work on a single console and co-operate in preparing a final text. The standard editing options (i.e. cut, copy, paste, replace, etc.) can help make correction and re-drafting less traumatic”(Ibidem, p. 355).
Teachers should “encourage students to spell-check, use the built-in thesaurus, experiment with different layouts, fonts, paragraphing, etc”(Ibidem, p. 355).
The advantages of using the internet in the classroom are suggested as follows:
- Increase in students’ interest-“Many students love computers. Students feel comfortable with computers and are very receptive to any learning activities that involve the computer. Increased motivation leads to increased language use which leads to improved proficiency. When a writing activity is truly communicative, as e-mail projects are, the language is authentic. The students are not going through the motions of an artificial exercise. They are communicating because they need and want to communicate. Most of the information on the World Wide Web has been written in English by native speakers. The Web is, therefore, a rich source of authentic reading materials in English”(Yufrizal, H. (2013), Multimedia for Receptive and Productive Second and ForeignLanguageSkillDevelopment, presented at International Conference on Education and Language, UBL, Indonesia,p. 378).
- Worldwide awareness-“Information can be exchanged easily between people in different corners of the world, connecting students around the globe. This enhances their chances of using the language and such activities may result into high proficiency. Students attest that this kind of communication increases global understanding”(Ibidem, p. 379).
- Environment preservation -“Use of the Internet can decrease the amount of paper used in the classroom. Much of the writing can be done on the computer. Web sites can replace some printed materials thereby preserving natural resources”(Ibidem, p. 379).
I personally consider that since nowadays technology seems to rapidly advance and bring along more efficient and functional ways both in learning and teaching English, it equally makes both teachers and students aware of the importance of ICT and its benefits when appropriately applied to class. Actually through ICT, not only productive and receptive skills can be improved, but also spoken language and communication in English and to a larger extent global understanding due to this constant exchange of information.
1.Blurton, C. (1999), New Directions of ICT – Use in Education
2.Harmer, J. (2001), The Practice of English LanguageTeaching, 3rdEdition, England, PearsonEducation Limited
3.Yufrizal, H. (2013), Multimedia for Receptive and Productive Second and ForeignLanguageSkillDevelopment, presented at International Conference on Education and Language, UBL, Indonesia
4.Scrivener, J. (2005), Learning Teaching – a guidebook for English language teachers, second edition, UK, Macmillan Publishers Limited
• download.portalgaruda.org/article.php?article=158602&val=5966&title=Multi%20Media%20For%20Receptive%20And%20Productive%20Second%20And%20Foreign%20Language%20Skill%20Development retrieved at 2nd of July 2015
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Teacher of English: ILIIN IONELA CARMINA
Institution: SPORTS PROGRAM HIGHSCHOOL, BISTRIŢA – ROMANIA