ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF USING COMPUTER
NETWORK TECHNOLOGY IN LANGUAGE TEACHING
By Huynh Thi Bich Ngoc,
M.A. in TESOL,
The University of Queensland, Australia
Over the past few years, together with magnificent technological advances, computer network technology is now exerting its influence on various aspects of life including government, business, economics, and undoubtedly, education as well. Under such a circumstance, there has been a significant increase of interest in using computers and it applications not only in Information Technology classrooms but also in the field of language teaching and learning. The role of computers in language instruction has become an important ...view middle of the document...
Besides, with an abundance of interactive activities on the Internet and the World Wide Web, our students can now play games and learn the language at the same time. This kind of learning experience was impossible before the development of the computer network technology.
Next, computer network technology provides students with opportunities to have access to authentic materials and information about the target language culture, which may be missing from many course books. As an understanding of culture is vital in language learning and may help enhance understanding of the target language, current pedagogical theories stress the importance of integrating culture into the language classroom (Canale & Swain, 1981). In this circumstance, computer network technology offers great advantage as it allows easier access to the target language and culture. It has the potential to bring people and places to the classroom, thus adding realism, authentic sociocultural and sociolinguistic information and help students have a real sense of immersion. It also provides students with a multimedia mirror on the target culture in that “it can bring the sounds, words, and images of the foreign language, embedded in their culture, into the classroom” (Atkinson, 1992, cited in Hackett, 1996, p. 17), and thus, can help expose students to international communication and new cultures as well as break down stereotypes. Computer Mediated Communication (CMC), and particularly e-mail and tele-conferencing in the language classroom can “provide authentic communication, which helps develop students’ communicative, literacy, and critical thinking skills” (Kelm, 1992; Kern, 1995, in Singhal, 1998).
Besides, the emergence of computer network technology has also made a significant contribution to language teaching and learning. CALL (Computer Assisted Language Learning) software and programs have the potential to improve learner autonomy in that they provide students with the power to control the speed, rate, timing, and order of tasks in a language program, and allows students to work at their own level. Furthermore, Little (1996) states that information technology can play an important role in the development of learner autonomy as it facilitates the students’ learning and provides students with the opportunity to use what they have learned. CALL software programs have been designed for the purpose of language teaching while other tools such as the Internet, e-mail, etc. also promote student-centered language learning (Gonglewski, Meloni, & Brandt, 2003) and help students develop their communicative skills as well. What is more, CALL programs also provide learners with a variety of choice in terms of which aspects of the target language such as grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, etc. they want to practise or what skills (listening, speaking, reading, writing) they want to develop, and which topics they are interested in. Thanks to this kind of new technology, learners...