I continue with the jigsaw or see saw that is the balance between effective pedagogical use of technology in language teaching and the utopian push that assumes technology must automatically be good, we only have to work out how best to use it. At the recent TESOL-SPAIN conference in Seville Hugh Dellar had a challenging, brave and provocative talk on “Technology and Principles in Language Learning”. This was a fascinating evaluation of the role technology has or is thought to play in the language teacher’s classroom. His argument essentially, was that we should focus more on language and learning and not be too distracted by the trills, frills and often time consuming demands of using technology in our classes. His key point is, as I imagine most teachers will agree, that technology is only one more tool we have and its effectiveness will depend on the teacher. It is also a tool we shouldn’t necessarily feed bad about not using!
About a day later Russell Stannard published an article in the Guardian (here) outlining the advantages of using the increasing variety of sound recording software and websites with students. Far from the days when CALL meant grammar bashing exercises he points out the strengths and potential of new multimedia software and sites that are very easy to use and, potentially, very useful for language learning.
Interestingly, Russell is stressing the potential for using these tools by the student at home more than a teacher using them in class. We return to the concept of the flipped classroom and in that sense perhaps there isn’t much difference between what appear to be two opposing views of technology: it’s role in class may actually be limited, may need to be limited, but what students can bring to the language class through technology may know no bounds.