Listening Script Vocabulary
(Section 3: You will hear a conversation between a tutor and a student about how technology affects language learning. First, you will have some time to look at questions 21 to 24 [20 seconds]. Listen carefully and answer questions 21 to 24.)
T: Right. Shall we get started with the tutorial then? Lisa, I believe you’ve been looking at the role of technology in language learning. Can you give us a bit of background?
L: Sure. Well, nowadays, technology is very much part of language learning throughout the world at all different levels. We are as likely to find it in the primary sector as much as in adult education. Computers are available in the majority of classrooms in all their modern forms. We may see traditional computers in labs, teachers and students walking around with laptops or tablet PCs, and many people will have a mobile phone in their pocket that is capable of doing rather more than the mainframe computers that started computer-assisted language learning in the 1960s. Of course, there are many kinds of digital divide, and that this is not true everywhere.
T: Do teachers find technology useful?
L: What is still sometimes an issue is the reliability of these technologies for classroom use. This can discourage teachers from making use of technology as often as they would want to. It's compounded by the fact that, if these teachers are working in schools, they are faced with classes of learners who may, on the surface at least, appear to be more digitally competent than their teachers are. Learners can therefore challenge their teachers, in ways that put teachers off using the technologies that could potentially make such a difference to what happens in the classroom.
T: I see. And what is the role of technology in helping learners use their skills?
L: Well, digital technologies are ideally placed to help teachers working with learners, and learners working independently, to do the necessary practice that makes their language development possible. We are talking here about doing things with language rather than just learning about language. Learners can’t simply develop based on input. They must engage with other people using that language, and try to make meaning together. Whenever I speak or write something, if I don’t produce language with someone else in mind, I have no way of knowing whether others can understand what I say or write. Of course, I need to read and listen as well, but unless I progress to this further stage, I can’t complete the process.
T: Can you give an example of the kind of way technology can help students to engage with others?
L: If we take writing as a starting point, technology in the form of word processors, and the many other ways we now have of producing text, allows us to work at the language. We go through a process of creating and re-creating text until it is fully comprehensible to others and is accurate. We can create a draft, show it to others and, based on feedback, can make changes to improve the text. The tools can also help us by showing that our spelling or grammar needs work, too. Technology makes this much easier, and makes it more likely that learners will engage with the editing process to produce the highest-quality text that they can. This writing can then be displayed for others to look at and comment on.
(Before you hear the rest of the conversation, you will have some time to look at questions 25 to 28 [20 seconds]. Now, listen and answer questions 25 to 28.)
T: What about speaking practice? How would that work? Finding meaningful spoken language practice in a class can be very challenging.
L: Yes, that’s right, particularly if, as a teacher, you lack confidence in your own spoken language skills. Linking your class to other classes around the world, using tools such as video conferencing, can give a reason for a learner to ask a question and then try to understand the response. It might also provide support for the teacher, too. The technology mediates the process, getting language out there and giving feedback that shows whether someone has or hasn’t understood what you have said.
T: Right. And there any other benefits of technology you want to highlight before we move on?
L: I wanted to mention the benefits of technology in language learning that is integrated with project work. Teachers have always tried to encourage learners to learn about new subjects through language. Getting learners to do work about topics that are of interest to them, or topics that are taught in other parts of the curriculum is a great way to improve their skills. Technology makes this possible wherever you are in the world. Teachers and learners can go online to read or listen to material about different areas of interest, and can then write or speak about what they have discovered, telling others in the class or other classes elsewhere in the world.
T: Great. Thanks for that overview, Lisa. Now, let’s turn to …