This paper aims to focus on the role of using modern technology in teaching English language receptive skills. It discusses different methods and techniques which can assist English language learners to progress their learning receptive skills (reading/listening) by using technology. A case study has been done to investigate the reply of a typical English language classroom learners for using technology in the learning process. Upon this practical study, the paper identifies the disadvantages and limitations of the present conventional English language learning tools, and accomplishes with positive suggestions and recommendations.
It has become very clear that everyone’s life is intensively affected by technology and the rapid flow of information. Technology plays an essential role in the society development. According to this fact, it is necessary to make an excellent use of modern technological devices to assist the process of the English language learning.
Learners of English as a foreign/ second language need further support, they need to practice the four language skills in order to develop their skills and experience. For doing these tasks, they are in need of using several tools which can help in learning the language easily and effectively. The effect of technology has become noticeable in teaching and learning the language in addition to the instructor’s role. In other words, the role of the instructor together with the role of the technology can lead to very good and positive learning results.
2. Historical background
Technology and English language education are related to each other. During the sixties and seventies of the last century English language laboratories were being used in various educational institutions. The traditional language laboratory was consisted of a number of small cabinets, provided with cassettes desk, a microphone and a head phone for each one. Teachers use a central control panel to monitor their students’ interactions. The main advantage of that type of technology was the verbal behavior of the students would help them to learn the second language very quickly. The students’ skills can be enhanced by encountering more practical drill problems. Although the language laboratory was a positive step in linking technology and language learning, this technique was actually monotonous and boring for learners. Also, there were minimal interactions between the teacher and his students.
3. English language skills
English language skills means the development of the main parts or elements of the language which are listening, reading (receptive) writing and speaking (productive). Each language skill or area has different educational tools that are likely suited with it. The use of several technical tools has an important effect on the learning process of each area of the language. English language skills are classified as receptive skills.
Listening is defined as the process of identifying and understanding the speech of the speakers. It involves understanding the speaker’s accent or pronunciation, speaker’s grammar and vocabulary, and comprehension of meaning. The listener should be capable of doing four things at the same time. Therefore, listening is a very important process of the second language learning. Listening is considered as a principal language skill. Through listening people can acquire a large portion of their education, their information, their ideas, and their understanding of the world. As an input skill, listening plays a vital role in the student’s language development. There are several technical ways for the listening capability of the ELL students, which are summarized below.
3.1.1 Use of computers
3.1.2 Use of smartphones
3.1.4 Use of CD players
Reading is a process of understanding a written text by the learner. It is an important input skill which depends on the vocabulary and background knowledge of the learner in the second language. During the reading process, the English language learner can improve his vocabulary and terms, acquire new information and ideas, and enhance real- world knowledge. Several methods can be utilized to improve the reading ability of the learner through the use of technology. Some of them are summarized below:
3.2.1 Use of computer based reading programs
3.2.2 Use of multimedia software
3.2.3 Browsing the internet
3.2.4 Use of Electronic Dictionaries
3.2.5 Reading CD-ROM Based Newspapers
4. Case study
In order to access how typical English language classrooms students can take benefits of to learn English as a second language, a questionnaire form has been used for this purpose. The form was given randomly to groups of the students of department of English Language College of arts, from different Universities in Sudan.
The data collected shows the following results:
• 65% of the students use technology in their daily life.
• 94% of the students believe that the computer can improve their English vocabulary.
• 93% of the students believe that using computer in the classroom increases students’ interaction with learning.
• 76% of the students assure that their teachers sometimes encourage them to use technology for learning English language.
• 98% of the students believe that using computer will help them to develop their writing skills.
• 32% of the students assure that their university has a good source of technology for learning English language.
• 84% of the students believe that the use of computer will improve their listening skills.
• 67% of the students prefer using technology to learn English language.
• 97% of the students believe that using technology will help them to learn English language faster than other ways.
5. Analysis of the Results
The results of the case study showed that most of the students prefer the use of technology, especially computers, in developing their second language skills. However, it seems that the technical capabilities of their college are almost poor, and there were a weak tendency for encouraging students to use technology in the classroom lessons.
Some of the drawbacks of using the classical teaching methods in English language learning are:
1. The conventional methods are ultimately based on theory and rarely use practice.
2. The conventional teaching methods are generally not exciting, and miss the motivation factor.
3. The classical methods are generally slower than the modern technical ways in learning the English language.
4. The conventional teaching methods are almost concentrated about the teacher (teacher-centered), while the modern technical methods give students significant role in the learning process.
6. Conclusions and Recommendations
Using technology in learning a second language has become a real necessity nowadays. This paper has reviewed briefly how technology can be utilized in developing the language skills of the learner. Different methods for using technology in improving the four language skills were discussed thoroughly. A case study was also carried out to estimate the acceptability of some students for the utilization of technology to enhance their language skills. As a result, the following concluding remarks and recommendations can be recorded:
1. As technology has developed, the incorporation of this medium into the instruction process becomes necessary.
2. The computer is being viewed more as an integral part of the learning activity, and as a means by which skills are transferred to learners.
3. Theory and practice in second language learning can be matched together by the use of modern technology.
4. Modern technical ways should be followed for effective learning and teaching of the second language.
5. English language teachers should encourage their students to use technology in developing the language skills.
6. Educational institutions should modernize their technical instruction capabilities by using new equipment and laboratories for supporting the teaching process.
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