[WK10] ICT in ELT: A self-reflection

This entry is not about "the tool of the week" like I have done before. Just wanna share my thoughts and opinions on certain issues. We got into a long discussion in the class last week and what has struck me the most is when Russell said: 

"Teacher should eliminate the activities that learners might find not interesting and can demotivate them from enjoy the lesson in the classroom. Don't only think about yourself. Think about your own learners' preferences. Put yourself in your learners' shoes. I feel happy when I get to see my students are smiling while doing the pair or group work using the technology or tools that I have introduced while constructing their own knowledge in the class"

As teachers or teachers-to-be, bear in mind that learners will always be our priority. Sometimes, we might find some activities are interesting for us (for our batch generation) to be done or carried out but this cannot guarantee that the learners (currently lead by Generation Y or Z) would love to do the same thing too. We should be brave enough to take risk in designing the lesson using approaches that we have never tried before (in this case, by integrating technology with ELT)

For example, I enjoy the lesson where Russell asked us to do sort of website evaluation in which we have to do a little bit of research on how certain websites can help teachers in designing the lesson but if I come to assign this kind of topic to my students in Malaysia, it can lead to boredom as students themselves will not have a clear purpose for them to do that.

In simple quotes:

"Come on, we are teenagers. We like to do social-networking. We play all the time. We love gadgets. We listen to MP3 instead of radio. We watch news or movies on YouTube rather than TV. We do lots of typing on computer rather than enjoy the traditional paper-based writing"

However, in planning to design a language learning lesson using the technology, apart from being aware of the current generation global culture, teachers also need to take note on the learners' socioeconomic condition as well. Back in Malaysia, I have experienced of being so-called 'unqualified' teacher for a short period (a month I could say) before I further my study in Warwick (3 years ago). I was known as the 'Replacement Teacher' in which I needed to teach students in primary school near my house which is located in rural area because the 'real' teacher gave birth. At that time, I have never been taught about the pedagogical approach of classroom learning context. One of the lesson that I could remember was based on the topic regarding computer. My learning objective was to teach students vocabulary related to computer. Sadly, there was no computer facilities at the school. Therefore, what I tried to do was I drew the computer image in a piece of manila card and I left some blank sections so that students could  try to fill them by naming the computers' parts. When the class went on, then I realised that most of the students in the class did not have computer at home and failed to name those parts even in their first language. They did not enjoy the lesson to the fullest.

Therefore, I believe that knowing the learners' background is one of the key factor that can lead to establishing an effective language classroom environment. Therefore, teachers need to do extra homework. At the beginning of the class, teachers can distribute handout containing needs analysis to the learners so that they become more aware of the learners' preferences and their both linguistic and computer-based knowledge. The example of question might be:

i) I have computer at home [Yes/No]
ii) I have access to internet at home [Yes/No]
iii) I would be interested in learning English through: [pair/group works; project-based learning; individual work etc]
iv) My favourite topics are [Sports/Online games/Fashion/Shopping/Novels/Movies etc]
v) The linguistic skills that I hope can be developed more are [Reading/Writing/Listening/Speaking]

and so on. This is important as teachers can create differentiation in terms of teaching/learning styles so that learners can get equal opportunities to learn best on their own way and preferences. Psychologically, this will lead to motivation in learning. The more personalised the lesson can be, the more motivation will be boosted.

Some might say that 'younger' teachers like me seem too idealistic or enthusiastic in integrating technology with ELT and might somehow do not seriously think about how it might be usefully applied based on the learning theories. Vice versa, some might think that the more experienced one might not have a grasp of the technology itself but do better in linking those theories and applying the pedagogical approaches. Therefore, along the continuum, I do believe that there must be a working balance between these two situations. Rather than creating a gap, both veteran and younger teachers should work together in sharing their ideas, plus capitalizing on one another's skills and resources so that a better learning environment could be established.

           Technology                                                                     Pedagogy

Bear in mind that, to choose technology as means of enhancing language learning does not mean we are trying to overthrown the established pedagogical and methodological approaches. I believe that it is teachers' responsibility to think wisely on how they can create link between the theories of learning and the use of technology in assisting the learners' learning process.

Maybe some of you beg to differ but I do believe that this is a promising learning environment that will help both learners and teachers to move a step further from allowing the the traditional chalk-and-talk type of classroom to be continued as ‘one size fit all’ approach.

The quotation that I like the most:
"Teachers usually have no control over the curriculum, but they do have control on how it is presented"

~Because English is FUN :) ~