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Language Teaching in the Digital Age

Ms.Jemima Daniel
Lecturer in English, Bharath Institute of Science and Technology,Chennai-73, India
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In a title like “language teaching in the Digital age”, the word ‘language’ seems less trendy than the word ‘digital’. We are rightly impressed by our new digital tools. Twenty – first century teaching is no longer about the four walls of the classroom. There was a time when a learner of English had to rely almost solely on what went on with in those walls. But there was before the coming of the digital age. Now thanks to the internet and the advent of digital media, a shift is happening in language learning moves into a new era. As today’s learners belong to the Digital Age, teachers also must adapt to use technology and multi-media based learning resources to impart the functional teaching of English. So, the need of the hour is to develop a common preservation infrastructure to preserve language-rich web contents’ research data, dissertations and other online asserts. If a collection of data in the form of digital objects are preserved and a proper information retrieval mechanism is provided to access those data then every learner regardless of their skill level and background can access the online contents available, quickly and efficiently.


Among the most significant forces for change in recent years is the technological sophistication we now possess for this sophistication not only affects our lives in profound ways but also seems to hold tantalizing promise for increasing our efficiency in education. With the advent of Internet and multiple formats that can be communicated over the world wide web, we now have several new and exciting ways to present information. The web allows the incorporation of animation’ moving pictures, and sound into lesions which extends our abilities to present materials that encourage students interaction with the subject matter. Pictures and animations help bring to life scientific principles and multimedia allows students to take a more active role in learning.
This technological escalation has bestowed upon education proliferation of equipment and materials that can assist in the reorganization and redefinition of educational experience. In the past most teaching depended almost entirely on verbal communication between teacher and student from printed materials. Although, these communication channels continue to play important roles in the learning language from pictures, television, recorded words, programmed lessons and other media. Media is the means for transmitting or delivering message. Media includes such things as prints, graphics, photography, audio-communication, television simulating games and computer. A mix or combination of two or more of these media can be called Multi-media. With the rapid development of science and technology today, as well as the theme of globalization and economic integration, multimedia teaching has gradually entered the day-to-day teaching methodology.


is known that the term “multi-media” was coined as result of techonological development: it is the combined form of words “multiple” and”media”, while its counterpart is “monomedia”. There may be different definitions in terms of “multi-media”, but it basically includes using such development as wall charts, slide projectors, video, television, networks, powerpoint, E-mail, bulletin board system, language lab, libraries and multi-media reading rooms. Generally speaking, the core of multimedia teaching is using the computer, based on the current information to creat a platform of exchanges and communication between teachers and students through sound and text. In addition AsZhang (2006:112) also points out: “multimedia and network-based language teaching provides students with learning flexibility as far as learning materials, learning time, learning place and learning pace are concerned”. The following digital objects can be used for language teaching. Radio: The radio is one of the most useful devices for teaching English. One can listen to good programmes and get used to listening to different accents. In addition, a number of good English teaching programmes, particularly for schools, are broadcast by the All India Radio; the materials are prepared by the CIEFL, Hyderabad, RIE, Bangalore and other ELITs in India. They can be recorded and used for listening sessions in the class. Transistors and Walkmans provide a lot of mobility in the use of radios and recorded programmes; they can be used for listening to programmes anywhere at any time.
Language Labs: The core of the language lab is a tape recorder which can present language sounds and structures with accuracy, fidelity and with endless patience. Wearing earphones, students sit in booths and listen to a tape that is played from a main console. Student’s tasks are limited to listening and repeating after good speakers who model drill sentences and words. Labs are interactive in the sense that the teacher could monitor and speak with students from the main console and students could reply or record their responses on a separate track of an audio tape. Unless effective programmes are available, language labs may not prove to be very useful.
Overhead projector: This is another useful digital tool because it can supplement the chalkboard. The teacher can prepare transparencies in advance and through the use of masks manipulate the order and arrangement of the presentation. The teacher can add information directly onto the transparency. An overhead projector can be used for brief periods of time but the activities are to be properly planned to maximize the effect. Proper infrastructure facilities are also required for the use of audio-video equipment. Video and television: These are also very helpful in developing comprehension. Using video and combining it with the TV requires some planning and preparation. It is not just setting the video up and letting it run. Teachers must take the video text or a TV text, like textbooks; they are texts in the sense that they provide an authentic piece of language that could be presented in the audio-video as well as the written form.


A number of new programmes using multi-media, the CD-ROM, the Internet and DVDs are coming into the market. They integrate the audio, video and graphic materials. For example, a type of software, Hypertext, consists of text materials that can be explored by students in a variety of ways. The students can select certain words with a mouse or cursor and get the synonyms, paraphrasing, grammatical analysis, maps, pictures, audio rendition and any other information like etymology, etc., within a split second. Students can read literary texts and call up all explanations onto computer screen. With the help of digital medias we can offer students not only rich sources of authentic learning materials but also an attractive and friendly interface, vivid pictures and pleasant sounds which to a large extent overcomes the lack of authentic language environment and arouses students interest in learning language.


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2. Master,Peter, 1998. New ways in English for specific purposes.