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Technology and Principles in Language Teaching

Hugh Dellar University of Westminster


Technology won’t replace teachers, but teachers who use technology will replace those that don’t.


Six points  Using tech is not good (or bad) teaching – we need to consider principles  The cult of the Amateur – and the harm it does  Authenticity isn’t necessarily good – ‘authenticating’ is

 Tech and content can be great, but costs Who’s paying?  Tech isn’t inherently motivating – and there are no short-cuts in language learning  We need to find ways to increase interactivity, but IWBs are often not the solution!


Using tech is not the same as good teaching


Language teachers teach language


Principles implicit in many sites  Grammar and vocabulary are separate

 Usage is relatively unimportant  Vocabulary often just means lexical sets  ‘Skills’ are at least as important as language  Learning should be ‘fun’  Creativity and play are essential

 More means better


‘The cult of the amateur’ Andrew Keen (2007)


Royal wedding passes without a hitch as Kate and William seal it with a kiss Level? - Purpose and revision? -


The cult of the amateur can undermine:  expertise  publishing process

 course coherence  language and learning principles


The authenticity fallacy


Authenticating texts  Texts to teach language is authentic –

in a language classroom  Make the language focus relevant – think about frequency and outcomes  Exchange ideas and feelings around the text – relate to culture and diversity

 ‘Authenticate’ / personalise language


Time and cost Who’s paying? Is it worth it?


Teaching technologically does not mean quicker

Jing Marking Is it better? Are there better uses?


Usage, outcomes, noticing ‌ but time-consuming


Is technology motivating? • Students are not screenagers 24/7 • No clear link between social and academic uses • Students often only use tech if assessed • Motivated students are motivated!


New technology Old technique


Motivation and memory: making it easy may not help


Evidence?  Google effects on memory (Sparrow, 2011)

- recall place rather than content  DeStefano and LeFevre (2005), cited in The Shallows (Carr, 2010), hypertext mainly impaired reading / increased cognitive load exceed readers capabilities  Different not better?


Interactivity through students and teaching – not IWBs


Interactive questions Crime is almost non-existent. You can leave your front door unlocked at night if you want There’s a recession. The economy is in a total mess Their policies are undermining national unity It’s made society less stable. They could destroy the country if they continue. With so little rain there are a lot of water shortages so the government’s investigating new policies to help. Their policies have boosted our standing in the world. Other countries see us as more important than before. Dellar, H. and Walkley, A. (2010). Outcomes Upper Intermediate Student’s Book. Andover: Heinle Cengage Learning


Interactive questions to ask about language:  Open rather than closed  Typical outcomes / reasons (what might you do?)  Focus on different aspects of knowing a word  Personalise as practice


CEFR principles  business of everyday life

 exchange ideas and feelings  understand others’ cultures better  define worthwhile and realistic objectives as explicitly as possible  base teaching and learning on the needs, characteristics and resources of learners  develop appropriate methods and materials Council of Europe, 2001. Common European Framework of Reference for languages: Learning, teaching, assessment. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p.3


Learning principles  Understand meaning  Notice language (form and usage)  Hear it

 Do something with it  Repeat steps repeatedly


Language principles  Considering ‘real’ usage is important  Grammar and vocabulary are interdependent  Vocabulary is more important than grammar

 Better skills comes from better language knowledge  Wants, needs and current abilities should determine level – not fixed grammar

 Frequency and outcomes should determine vocabulary level / syllabus – not just sets


University of Westminster Teaching ethos  Language rich  Useful  Students as a resource

 Exchange ideas or feelings  Recognise diversity  Links to continued learning


Some principles for (not) using tech  Focus on language and outcomes  Leave space for your students  Ask yourself if a non-tech way may better  Don’t let workaholics be our model – there’s more to life than teaching!


www.hughdellar.wordpress.com www.facebook.com/hughdellarandrewwalkley

www.hughdellar@mac.com

Hugh dellar technology and principles in elt