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Ic ts and teachers’ attitude in english language teaching

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Ic ts and teachers’ attitude in english language teaching

  1. 1. ICTs AND TEACHERS’ ATTITUDE IN ENGLISH LANGUAGE TEACHING By Gopala Krishnan Sekharan Nair OVERVIEW In the 1980s, the application of technology in language classrooms included the use of film, radio, television, language labs with audio and videotapes, computers, and interactive video (Cunningham, 1998). Various types of computer assisted language learning (CALL) also became commonplace (Landoli, 1990). Although there were some innovative uses of software, for example, MacLang (Frommer, 1989), the majority of CALL uses were limited in form to drill-and practice exercises. As the technology advanced, we began to see more interactive uses of CALL as well as an increase in the integration of various media into the computer system (Pusack & Otto, 1990). Computer technology became more accessible to both individuals and schools. Moreover, our growing understanding of its potential encouraged a shift in emphasis from computer technology to its applications. That is, finding ways to use computers for enhancing teaching and learning gained prominence in the research. Today, the use of multimedia, the Internet (especially the World Wide Web), and various forms of distance learning are widespread. Interest in using computers as tools to support language learning is growing, both from the perspective of a language educator and that of a language learner. CALL Computer-assisted language learning (CALL) is defined as "the search for and study of applications of the computer in language teaching and learning".[1] CALL embraces a wide range of information and communications technology applications and approaches to teaching and learning foreign languages, from the "traditional" drill-and- practice programs that characterised CALL in the 1960s and 1970s to more recent manifestations of CALL, e.g. as used in a virtual learning environment and Web-based distance learning.
  2. 2. The term CALI (computer-assisted language instruction) was in use before CALL. CALI fell out of favour among language teachers, however, as it appeared to imply a teacher-centred approach (instructional), whereas language teachers are more inclined to prefer a student-centred approach, focusing on learning rather than instruction. CALL began to replace CALI in the early 1980s (Davies & Higgins 1982: p. 3)] and it is now incorporated into the names of the growing number of professional associations worldwide. The current philosophy of CALL puts a strong emphasis on student-centred materials that allow learners to work on their own. Such materials may be structured or unstructured, but they normally embody two important features: interactive learning and individualized learning. CALL is essentially a tool that helps teachers to facilitate the language learning process. It can be used to reinforce what has already been learned in the classroom or as a remedial tool to help learners who require additional support. The design of CALL materials generally takes into consideration principles of language pedagogy and methodology, which may be derived from different learning theories (e.g. behaviourist, cognitive, constructivist) and second- language learning theories A combination of face-to-face teaching and CALL is usually referred to as blended learning. Blended learning is designed to increase learning potential and is more commonly found than pure CALL. Three historical phases of CALL, classified according to their underlying pedagogical and methodological approaches:  Behavioristic CALL: conceived in the 1950s and implemented in the 1960s and 1970s.  Communicative CALL: 1970s to 1980s.  Integrative CALL: embracing Multimedia and the Internet: 1990s onward
  3. 3. Most CALL programs in Warschauer & Healey's first phase, Behavioristic CALL (1960s to 1970s), consisted of drill-and- practice materials in which the computer presented a stimulus and the learner provided a response. At first, both could be done only through text. The computer would analyse students' input and give feedback, and more sophisticated programs would react to students' mistakes by branching to help screens and remedial activities. While such programs and their underlying pedagogy still exist today, behaviouristic approaches to language learning have been rejected by most language teachers, and the increasing sophistication of computer technology has led CALL to other possibilities. The second phase described by Warschauer & Healey, Communicative CALL, is based on the communicative approach that became prominent in the late 1970s and 1980s (Underwood 1984). In the communicative approach the focus is on using the language rather than analysis of the language, and grammar is taught implicitly rather than explicitly. It also allows for originality and flexibility in student output of language. The communicative approach coincided with the arrival of the PC, which made computing much more widely available and resulted in a boom in the development of software for language learning. The first CALL software in this phase continued to provide skill practice but not in a drill format—for example: paced reading, text reconstruction and language games—but the computer remained the tutor. In this phase, computers provided context for students to use the language, such as asking for directions to a place, and programs not designed for language learning such as Sim City, Sleuth and Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? were used for language learning. Criticisms of this approach include using the computer in an ad hoc and disconnected manner for more marginal aims rather than the central aims of language teaching. The third phase of CALL described by Warschauer & Healey, Integrative CALL, starting from the 1990s, tried to address criticisms of the communicative approach by integrating the teaching of language skills into tasks or projects to provide direction and coherence. It also coincided with the development of multimedia technology (providing text, graphics, sound and animation) as well as Computer-mediated communication (CMC). CALL in this period saw a definitive shift from the use of the computer for drill and tutorial purposes
  4. 4. (the computer as a finite, authoritative base for a specific task) to a medium for extending education beyond the classroom. Multimedia CALL started with interactive laser videodiscs such as Montevidisco (Schneider & Bennion 1984)] and A la rencontre de Philippe (Fuerstenberg 1993),] both of which were simulations of situations where the learner played a key role. These programs later were transferred to CD-ROMs, and new role-playing games (RPGs) such as Who is Oscar Lake? made their appearance in a range of different languages. A significant amount of literature explored the potential of computer technology regarding teaching and learning languages more effectively. Dunkel (1990), for example, asserted that the possibilities of using computer technology as a tool could include increasing language learners' self-esteem, vocational preparedness, language proficiency, and overall academic skills. Furthermore, the benefits of multimedia, the Internet, and various forms of distance education were explored by many others (e.g., Armstrong & Yetter- Vassot, 1994; Garrett, 1991; Ruschoff, 1993; Sussex, 1991). Educators were particularly interested in technology's interactive capabilities, such as providing immediate feedback and increasing learner autonomy, in addition to the capability of simulating realworld situations using audio, video, and graphics (Chun & Brandy 1992; Hoffman, 1995-1996; Jones, 1991; Legenhausen & Wolff, 1990). Discussions of the benefits of computer technology included the exploration of the application of certain technologies in specific language areas. Hypermedia technology, with its linking and interactive capabilities, was discussed as a tool to enhance vocabulary learning (Liu, 1994) and reading comprehension (Hult, Kalaja, Lassila, & Lehtisalo, 1990). Chun and Plass (1997) considered the potentials of using video and audio to support text comprehension. Kramsch and Andersen (1999) argued that multimedia technology could provide authentic cultural contexts that are important for language learning. Others advocated CALL programs, especially voice-interactive CALL for improving learners' speaking skills (Ehsani & Knodt, 1998; James, 1996). Computer technology in combination with a conferencing system was considered an effective means of providing goal- directed writing courses tailored to different learning styles (Cornu, Decker, Rosseel, & Vanderheiden, 1990). In addition, Cononelos and Oliva (1993)
  5. 5. reported employing Usenet and e-mail to connect students in an Italian class with native speakers to facilitate discussions on cultural issues. Others shared their personal experiences in using electronic dictionaries for reading and writing (Hulstijn, 2000) and Web Course in a Box (1997-- 2000) software to teach German (Godwin-Jones, 1999). The pedagogical benefits of computer- mediated communication (CMC) as facilitated through e-mail and programs such as the Daedalus Integrated Writing Environment (1988-2002) became one of the most commonly discussed topics in foreign language literature (Salaberry, 1996). Some language educators implemented this new medium in the classroom and reported on its linguistic and psychological benefits (Beauvois, 1992, 1994; Chun, 1994; GonzalezBueno, 1998; Gonzalez-Bueno & Perez, 2000; Kelm, 1992; Kern, 1995; Kroonenberg, 1994-1995; Sullivan & Pratt, 1996; Van Handle & Corl, 1998; Warschauer, 1995-1996). Unlike many individual CALL applications, CMC seems to promote meaningful human interaction that can foster the language learning process. That is, advocates claim that CMC can be an excellent medium for cultivating new social relationships within or across classrooms, resulting in collaborative, meaningful, and cross-cultural human interactions among members of a discourse community created in cyberspace (Salaberry, 1996; Warschauer, 1997; Warschauer, Turbee, & Roberts, 1996; Zhao, 1996). Daedalus Many studies on CMC examined the use of InterChange, a component of Daedalus (1988-2002), in second language-learning classrooms (Beauvois, 1992; Chun, 1994; Kelm, 1992; Kern, 1995). InterChange is a synchronous discussion tool that allows users to have real-time written conversations and was originally developed to teach English composition and literature to native speakers of English (Bump, 1990). However, its usage has been expanded to second language instruction. One of the most important reasons that InterChange has received a good deal of attention from second language teaching professionals is that it enables students to have meaningful and authentic conversations with others in the target
  6. 6. language. This type of computer- mediated communication (CMC) has become an emphasis in recent language movements in part because it promotes students' equal participation in the classroom (Chun, 1994; Kern; Sullivan & Pratt, 1996). In addition, all the language output produced in the InterChange session can be saved and sorted according by sender so that students can reflect on what they or others say. Thus, learners have an opportunity to monitor their own language production and learn from others' language. The majority of the studies, however, focused on the development and increase of written communication skills using synchronous and/or asynchronous communication tools. We recognize that the genre of writing promoted by the use of CMC is very similar to oral communication in tone, register, and spontaneity. Nevertheless, the language output in CMC is printed and produced using the keyboard rather than orally, with no evidence of accuracy in pronunciation, intonation, prominence, and stress. We, therefore, present the discussion of the CMC studies under the section dealing with writing skills. CMC Definition - What does Computer- Mediated Communication (CMC) mean? Computer-mediated communication (CMC) is a process in which human data interaction occurs through one or more networked telecommunication systems. A CMC interaction occurs through various types of networking technology and software, including email, Internet Relay Chat (IRC), instant messaging (IM), Usenet and mailing list servers. CMC technology saves time and money in IT organizations by facilitating the use of all communication formats. Techopedia explains Computer- Mediated Communication (CMC) Computer mediated communication is divided into synchronous and asynchronous modes. In synchronous communication, all participants are online simultaneously. In asynchronous communication there are time constraints on communication messages and responses, as with emails. Key CMC features include conversation recordability, formal communication, and user identity anonymity, depending on
  7. 7. software type - such as IM. However, CMC user statement interpretation may be difficult due to the absence of verbal communication. Word Processing Software In addition to specific authorware and commercial software, the literature also addressed broader software application categories that included word processing software, the Internet, and speech recognition software. Word processing software, the most "low-tech" of the tools, "is perhaps the most accepted and universal use of computers in education today" (Hyland, 1993, p. 21). Typically, word processing software offers features such as spelling checkers, thesauri, dictionaries, style checkers, and grammar checkers (Levy, 1990). Some researchers asserted that word processing software tended to increase student enjoyment or appreciation of routine assignments by transforming traditional learning tasks into novel ones (Greenia, 1992; Scott & New, 1994). Greenia (1992) described an early use of a computer-based writing program whereby the class created, shared, and turned in electronic assignments on a floppy disk. The author asserted that this type of composition process facilitated the formation of communicative writing communities and transformed the conventional directive role of the instructor into the position of a facilitator for class discourse. Scott and New (1994) proposed that the development of their word processing program Systeme D helped augment the curriculum by placing a focus on the writing process. Nonetheless, despite such positive reports, "research is unable to confirm that the quality of computer written texts is superior to conventionally produced work" (Hyland, 1993, p. 22). There were also some negative findings with regard to the use of word processing programs in the language classrooms. For instance, some studies suggested that students seemed to revise less on a computer than with paper and pencil (Hyland, 1993). A possible explanation for the negative results yielded by some research may hinge on the assertion that a student's success depends on his or her word processing skills. That is, in addition to their writing skills, students are also inadvertently evaluated on their
  8. 8. word processing skills. Ritter (1993) suggested that positive changes in writing behaviors required additional training time for students to become accustomed to the use of the software. Hyland proposed that at least one semester of word processing was necessary before improvements in writing from novice computer users could appear. Internet E-mail, synchronous chat, bulletin boards, HTML, DHTML, XML, and digital video are all examples of Internet-based tools used in second and foreign language teaching and learning. The literature provided descriptions of projects such as e-mail exchange (e.g., Hellebrandt, 1999; Kroonenberg, 1994- 1995), Web publishing (e.g., Bicknell, 1999; Pertusa-Seva & Stewart, 2000), and simulated immersion (e.g., Kost, 1999; Legenhausen & Wolff, 1990; Nelson & Oliver, 1999; Pertusa-Seva & Stewart). This particular category of tools is generally lauded in the literature as an opportunity to expose students to authentic, culture-laden contexts to which they are able to respond by speaking and writing in the target language (Hellebrandt). For example, e-mail was reported to facilitate "very realistic form[s] of communication because it is a real conversation about real, relevant topics with real people" (Kroonenberg, p. 24). E- mail and synchronous chat can enhance communicative language skills (Kost) and can be used to share and collaborate (Hellebrandt). They are also helpful in developing critical-thinking skills (Kroonenberg). Chat, for example, "cultivates the ability to think and compose spontaneously" (Kroonenberg, p. 26). Currently, the literature seems to be exploring how access to current authentic materials and native speakers helps facilitate "virtual" language immersion for students who cannot physically travel to a host country. Speech Recognition Software Speech recognition software requires a user to produce meaningful linguistic units that are then translated by a speech recognition program. The implication for second language classrooms is that a student's oral abilities can be grammatically analyzed to assess oral proficiency levels and to provide students with feedback. Derwing et al. (2000) stated that the usefulness of speech recognition software for language students hinges on its ability to (1) recognize nonnative utterances and (2) identify problem areas of student production to provide corrective feedback. Thus far, research suggests
  9. 9. that speech recognition technology is not sufficiently reliable to justify its implementation into second and foreign language classrooms (Coniam, 1998; Derwing et al.). Furthermore, Der-wing and his colleagues reported that, although the speech recognition software they evaluated was able to recognize 90% of the words uttered by native speakers, it was only able to understand between 24% and 26% of the normative speakers' utterances (p. 597). Thus, speech recognition software, in its current form, would provide unreliable feedback to foreign language students. Designing pedagogically effective CALL activities became a concern. Hoven (1999) proposed an instructional design model based on sociocultural theory for multimedia listening and viewing comprehension. Watts (1997) suggested a learner-based design model focusing on learners' goals and needs, rather than on the technology itself. In those discussions, the importance of technology-enhanced, student-centered activities was emphasized. Realizing the lack of design guidelines for language educators, Hemard (1997) presented some design principles for creating hypermedia authoring applications. The principles included "know[ing] and appreciating] the intended users' needs," "user-task match," and 11 provid[ing] easy error-solving devices" (p. 15). He suggested considering such factors as technical, authoring, task, and interface requirements when authoring hypermedia language applications. Based on second language acquisition theory, Chapelle (1998) suggested seven criteria for developing multimedia CALL: 1. making key linguistic characteristics salient, 2. offering modifications of linguistic input, 3. providing opportunities for comprehensible output, 4. providing opportunities for learners to notice their errors, 5. providing opportunities for learners to correct their linguistic output, 6. supporting modified interaction between the learner and the computer, and 7. acting as a participant in second language learning tasks. Computer-Assisted Language Testing Computer-assisted language testing (CALT) is generally defined as "an
  10. 10. integrated procedure in which language performance is elicited and assessed" by computers (Noijons, 1994, p. 38). It should be noted, however, that some confusion exists regarding the terminology used in this area. Computer- assisted language testing is also referred to as computer-based testing (CBT). The abbreviation CALT in the literature indicates computerized adaptive language testing in some cases and computer-assisted language testing in other cases. In this article, the concept of CALT includes both computer-assisted language testing and computerized adaptive language testing. Major benefits of using computer testing cited in the literature included the possibility of immediate feedback, individualized testing, and randomization through test banks to increase testing security (Alderson, 2000; Brown, 1997; Dunkel, 1999). The main criticisms were that (1) productive language abilities (i.e., speaking and writing) could not be assessed by current software with an acceptable level of accuracy, (2) lack of computer literacy may place novice computer users at a disadvantage, and (3) limitation in testing formats could lead to decontextualized forms of assessment (Alderson; Brown; Dunkel). LITERATURE REVIEW Davis (1989) clearly indicates that attitude may influence the level of use of ICT. Funds amounting to millions would be wasted expenditure if the classroom practitioners do not make optimal use of the resources available. Barnett (1994), found that technology in the classroom does enhance learning if properly employed. He pointed out that teachers who started out their careers in an era when technology was not available would be difficult to convert to become users of modern technology. This group, according to him, must first be convinced of the merits of ICT in education before they use it in the classroom. This scholar stated that by no means must these teachers be coerced into using technology; they must first be developed into willing users. Alessi and Trollip (2001), contended that a lot of research findings indicate that using computers to teach is better than using books, teachers, films or other more traditional methods. Albion and Ertmer (2002), suggested that the duration of exposure of teachers to ICT is crucial in alleviating the skills and anxiety level. They argued that short term exposure to technology would be
  11. 11. inadequate in equipping teachers with the necessary skills and knowledge for confident and masterful use of ICT in the classroom. Educational Planners should take heed of their findings. Kent and Facer (2004), stressed that teachers must be properly trained and should be keen on using technology in the classroom. Sutherland, et al (2004) raise the issue that ICT alone does not enhance learning. How ICT is incorporated into learning activities is what is important. They also argue that although there is an extensive research base on teaching and learning ‘without ICT’which could inform teaching and learning ‘with ICT’, such research has not systematically been drawn upon by policy makers when developing curricula and guidelines for teachers on how to use ICT in the classroom. There is a tendency to think that ICT is so ‘new’ that its use will be accompanied by ‘new’ pedagogies that will somehow transform teaching and learning. This utopian vision often leads policy makers and practitioners to ignore general theoretical perspectives about teaching and learning, which in our view are central to all learning, with or without ICT. These scholars explain the components of the the InterActive Education Project making a complex picture of ICT in education. Each component looks at ICT in relation to a specific aspect: teaching and learning, policy and management, subject cultures, professional development and learners’ out-of-school uses of ICT. Brown and Warschauer (2006), echoed the views of Albion and Ertmer (2002), when they found that teachers performed better in using ICT when they were well grounded in the technology through workshops and training sessions that are of substantial duration. Chan et al. (2007), stresses that the success or failure of the use of ICTs in a classroom very much depends on the implementers. These implanters refer to the institution administrations as well as the teacher. Chan et al. (2007), also recommends that administrative support should take the form of practical allocations in terms of infrastructure, hardware, software and networking required to conduct IT classes. Sekharan, et al (2012) seek to find out whether teachers are ready for the innovation of ICTs. They check on teachers attitude toward the use of ICTs
  12. 12. in English teaching and the extend to what teachers use the available ICT equipment. They carried out a study at eight primary schools focused on teachers’ attitude towards ICT’s with three different variables: 1) actual level of ICTs use 2) teachers’ age and 3) experience attending ICTs workshops. Regarding the actual use of ICTs, there was found that teachers are using ICT in the classrooms in a satisfactory level. This is a very good sign, but the current situation is not the expected one. More improvements need to be taken into consideration to improve on the level of ICT use. Another finding was that he level of ICT use is higher when the attitude towards the use of ICT is more positive. In relation to teachers’ age, there is a negative correlation between age and attitude. Increasing age would mean a lower attitude score. The age of teachers is something that cannot be changed but their attitude level may be raised by suitable and frequent workshops. Education Administrators must recognize that the older generation may face stress in the face of new technology. Once this recognition is there, the authorities should attempt to give more training, starting from the very basic to the older generation. They should also think of different kinds of workshop and training for the younger and older teachers. If possible special workshops should be held for the older generation as they differ significantly from the younger generation in their attitude towards ICT. The issue involving experience attending ICTs workshops shows that there exists a significant difference between the attitude score of those who have attended ICT workshops and those who have yet to undergo any ICT training. This finding indicates that the workshops are indeed useful. However the workshops must be more regular and the workshop learning content must be different for the younger and older age group.

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