Standards, principles, guidelines, criteria, definitions—it seems that teachers have much to think about. However, the principles, standards, and guidelines overlap, which suggests that using technology for language learning relies on certain fundamental principles and that choosing one set of standards, conditions, or guidelines as a foundation for designing a CALL activity might help teachers to meet many of the others. In this text, the language learning principles form the basis of every task, while task engagement principles provide the grounding for discussions of both theory and practice. The 21st century skills provide a focus for each chapter, while the TTS-LL provide concrete objectives for examples. Tips and techniques to help teachers meet all of these guidelines are discussed in each chapter.
► Teachers’ Voices
The fact is, technology does mess up and sometimes my whole lesson goes down the drain because things aren’t working the way they should. I think you have to be aware and have a back-up plan in the beginning… what will I do if things don’t go as planned? I’m amazed how flexible my students can be and how willing to try… [and] try again.
I think one of the reasons I have felt overwhelmed with the use of technology in the classroom is that I would think about how to use the technology versus how to best integrate technology into the learning process. By starting first with the goal or standard I want my students to master and demonstrate their learning, I can now better see how to integrate a variety of methods to teach the concepts, and for students to demonstrate what they learn, technology being one of the methods.
Unfortunately, technology goals are often tacked on rather than infused into content-area curriculum goals. While there are specific technology goals established by a technology committee, there needs to be ownership over who will be responsible for addressing these goals.
When deciding whether or not to use software, I think it is important to evaluate if technology would be better than other methods, such as hiring an aid to help the students or having native English speakers work with English language learners. I do realize that technology is a wonderful creation, but not all students work best with a computer screen.
I think that technology provides another medium for students to express themselves—by showing their work or interacting with concepts/content through the computer. For those students who aren’t solely auditory or visual learners, they can go to a computer and often engage in multiple forms of intelligence and learning styles (through multimedia).
Maybe you can help answer this question for me. In the chapter, one of the principles or guidelines stated that if the computer doesn’t support learning, it shouldn’t be used just to be used. I completely agreed with this statement as I read it, but later began to reflect upon when it wouldn’t be used to support learning. For example, if all students are doing is just playing around on a computer, aren’t they still meeting some of the standards for technology, by just learning how to operate and work with a computer? True, it would be better if students were also doing something with content or language learning at the same time… but, still, even if all they are doing is exploring how a computer works, aren’t they still learning something valuable?
I agree that exploration and practice itself is a task that will facilitate future use of the computer for students in general. I believe that teachers will be the ones to guide the children through the process of familiarizing themselves with the “how” and “why” things work. At the same time I agree that language learners should feel comfortable enough to take risks… but they should not be put to sleep by overly simple-minded tasks.
Computer access or no computer access, students first need to know how to ask questions that will get to meaningful answers. Even if we don’t have computers for all our students all the time, we can still teach these skills.
You can’t force curriculum to relate to a learner’s life, but you can use the learner’s life to reinforce curriculum.
* Some ideas in this chapter were taken from Egbert, J., & Abobaker, R. (2018). Opportunities for engaging young English language learners through technology use. In N. Guler (Ed.), Optimizing Elementary Education for English Language Learners (Chapter 9). Hershey, PA: IGI GLobal.