Language learning technology is a growing and often standard part of most school curriculum. Students and teachers alike are taking advantage of online tools, websites, apps to support their language learning and teaching goals. A recent NCES survey stated that over 51% of all teachers in the US now use some form of curriculum based software.
Nevertheless, there are some standard myths out there about online language learning technology. As with any rapidly changing way of doing something, there are always fears and apprehensions, misinformation and misunderstanding about that which is new.
Here are 3 myths we find particularly pervasive and would like to address directly given our experience implementing EnglishCentral video based learning into thousands of classrooms.
Many teachers still believe that online learning and technology in general is “repetitive” and behavioristic. That it isn’t human and adaptive. We at EnglishCentral challenge that. Video offers astounding ways to personalize the learning experience and make it about “reality”, providing motivating information and powerful context to help language learners.
We provide students with tools so they can control and personalize their language learning experience in each video lesson or activity – be it by comparing their speech or viewing video clip examples of words they find difficult to understand. Nothing repetitive when the learner is actually driving their own learning experience!
We beg to differ. Our learners have achieved amazing results through our speech assessment feedback, improving pronunciation dramatically by focusing in on their weaknesses. Nothing better than the variety of language input that students get through video lessons that provide a wide range of samples of language used authentically by native speakers from around the world. Furthermore, by studying a video about New Zealand, students will learn much more than they ever could through a classroom exercise about the country. We pipe in “culture” and make it come alive within the classroom.
In a way, it is about seeing the glass half full or half empty. Technology is essentially neutral and in and of itself doesn’t benefit or negate – it’s how it is used that counts. Language learning online if done well, in a blended fashion and in support of what teachers do in the classroom, offers amazing potential. Teachers are and always will be needed and at EnglishCentral we see technology as supporting strong classroom teaching practices, one of them being, giving students more freedom and control in their own study/learning of language.
Technology doesn’t mean less teachers, it means a different role for teachers. Online language learning offers students the ability to get the necessary time/practice with language that traditional classrooms always couldn’t provide.
Workload. A properly set up program should offer a very simple way for students to access the technology, do the activities and for teachers to monitor the results. We’ve been very careful to do this well at EnglishCentral. Sure, if teachers do want to use it at a higher/deeper level, it will take some learning on their part. But just setting up a class, inviting students and monitoring their achievement can be done by one tech co-ordinator on the part of many classroom teachers. Further, it frees up teachers. Students do the “heavy lifting”, the self study online and in class, teachers focus on the more social aspects of using the language, along with ongoing, formative assessment of students.
So there you go, 3 big myths cut down to size. We are sure there are many others. Have any additional ones you can think of?