ICT tools and English Language Teaching
This article tries to review ICT use in English Language Teaching (ELT). First, the rationale behind using ICT in ELT will be discussed. Then, a list of ICT tools that are currently used will be introduced.
Advantages of working with ICT tools
According to Pete Sharma and Barney Barret (2007), there are several reasons for using technology in language teaching. In addition to the fact that technology can be motivating, it offers the possibility to work autonomously or interact and collaborate with others. Technology also provides instant feedback on language performance in various tasks and exercises. Technology can also be an extension of the classroom and can be time saving. Finally, technology can promote language learning with fresh authentic and motivating materials directly usable from the Internet.
Using blended learning, which they define as “a language course that combines a face-to-face classroom component with an appropriate use of technology”, Pete Sharma and Barney Barret (2007: 7) suggest that “positive learning outcomes are most apparent when clear roles are assigned to the teacher and to the technology.”
In the following section, we will be reviewing the ICT tools that are used in ELT. The categorization of the tools presented are adapted from Erben et al., (2009).
ICT tools classification
ICT tools have been reported to yield positive results in ELT classrooms. in fact, judicious use of ICT tools to teach English boosts learning in terms of attitudes, autonomy and authenticity. In this section, we will list several ICT tools, classified according to their functions. To this effect, we will use Erben et al., (2009) classification which focuses on the functions of the different ICT tools.
Those tools enable English language learners to be creative. They involve playing with and using language to create, explore, and discover while producing content and learning performances that can be measured. Examples of these tools include web publishing, presentations software, exercise creating tools, podcasting, camera, moviemakers, and audio makers.
Software that promote communication among students and teachers may be divided into two kinds of tools. First, there are those types of software that allow for in real time interaction (i.e. synchronous) such as telephone conversations, a board meeting, voice conferencing, and instant messaging. The second type of software includes those that occur with a time delay (i.e. asynchronous) such as email, text messages transmitted over cell phones, and discussion boards.
Reading/ writing-facilitative e-tools
Some ICT tools can facilitate and boost teaching and learning of writing and reading skills. Examples of these tools include online boards, online journals, blogs, wikis, and e-books.
Blogs, wikis, boards and journals can be used to create digital material or portfolios online are spaces where learners work in collaborative projects. They can also be used for professional development or to summarize learners’ work. Examples of these tools are blogger, wikispaces and Penzu. They can be accessed by following these link:
Similarly, E-books have many functionalities. Learners can use them to develop their reading skill. For instance, e-books have added audio, interactive tasks and built-in dictionaries. Another advantage of this tool is that learners can access e-books on several devices such as tablets, mobile phones, and laptops.
The listening skill can be developed through ICT tools such as:
- Video and audio files;
- Podcasts (syndicated audio files) and vodcasts (syndicated video files);
- Audio Video sharing libraries like YouTube.
Tony Erbe et al., (2009) list three basic performance types of assessment, namely, performances, portfolios, and projects. The main difference between these types of assessment and standardized traditional tests lies in the fact that with the alternative assessment tools, the leaner “produces evidence of accomplishment of curricula objectives”. This evidence is put in the form of a performance, project, or portfolio and can be “archived and used at a later date with other pieces of learning evidence as a compilation of proof to demonstrate achievement.” Erben et al., (2009: 153)
Virtual learning environments
Virtual Learning Environments (VLE) are Web-based platforms that allow teachers and learners to manage and organize their work electronically. Some of the benefits of these online spaces are as follows:
- Both parents and learners can access these spaces to assess progress.
- All participants may have their say on the discussion forums or conferencing sections
- VLEs reduce the social distance between all participants.
This article has attempted to review the rationale behind ICT use in education. We have also tried to classify ICT tools and their use in ELT. Some of these tools are designed for communication while others are made to help learners be creative. Language skills can also be developed through ICTs
Erben, T., Ban, R., & Castañeda, M. (2009). Teaching English language learners through technology. New York: Routledge
Sharma, P. & Barret, B. (2007). Blended learning: Using technology in and beyond the language classroom. Macmillan