Teacher Trainees' Use of Computer-Mediated Tasks in Teaching English as a Second Language: A Preliminary Study

Article excerpt

Abstract

This study is to identify the level of use of technology-mediated tasks amongst teacher trainees during their teaching practicum. This article reports a survey conducted with 63 teacher trainees and a semi-structured interview conducted with nine lecturers in a TESL programme at a Malaysian university. The result of the quantitative and qualitative tools revealed that the majority of the teacher trainees had positive perceptions towards the use of computer-mediated tasks. The thematic analysis revealed that the use of computer-mediated tasks by teacher trainees was also high. The data points to the need for future studies on the level of teacher trainees' exposure to computer-mediated tasks.

Keywords: task-based language teaching (TBLT), information and communication technology (ICT), computer-mediated tasks, computer-assisted language learning (CALL), teaching English as second language (TESL)

1. Introduction

Task-based language teaching (TBLT) or task-based instruction is often implemented in language education to promote meaningful use of the target language and to develop students' communicative competence (Ellis, 2003; Nunan, 2004). TBLT is currently moving from a traditional to communicative approach where learning language through TBLT today is focusing more on learners' engagement in authentic interaction with others, than on studying the language itself. However, the literature reveals that most studies on TBLT have been conducted primarily in traditional, face-to-face classroom settings (Carless, 2002; Chapelle, 2003; Ellis, 2003; Deng & Carless, 2009; Willis & Willis, 2009; Thomas & Reinders, 2012; Ahlquist, 2013). This is incongruous in a world where the use of technology is seen as crucial in language education (e.g. learners are increasingly exposed to web-based learning environments). Therefore, the use of technology-mediated contexts in TBLT deserves further attention (Thomas & Reinders, 2012).

An example of how information and communications technology (ICT) fulfils current needs in language education can be found in Butler-Pascoe and Wiburg (2003). They explain that computers and the Internet, which have become the primary media for ICT, work well within the task-based learning framework; using these tools, students and teachers can benefit from having direct access to real audiences either synchronously or asynchronously, engaging in problem-solving activities, and encountering authentic language. In addition, computer and Internet use facilitates learner interaction and allows language to be presented in a more enhanced manner than in traditional textbooks. These benefits have led to an increased use of ICT in language education, in which students are given tasks to complete through computers and the Internet.

While the use of computers and the Internet offers significant advantages for traditional task-based instruction, many challenges still exist to the adoption and integration of technology in language teaching (Davis, Preston, & Sahin, 2009). Even though teachers' have positive perceptions and attitudes towards the use of technology in language teaching and agree that technology is a valuable tool for fostering language learning and teaching, most teachers are concerned about their own knowledge regarding technology, as well as about the flexibility and capability of technology as a tool in language teaching (Marlia Puteh, 2002; Aydin, 2012). Because of their lack of knowledge about technology and doubts about the use of technology in organising learning tasks, teachers do not have consistent levels of technological exposure and practice during their pre service training. For this reason, the researchers in current study found that a need exists to determine how frequently teacher trainees use technology-mediated tasks, especially during their teaching practicum.

Thus, the purpose of this study is to identify the level of use of technology-mediated tasks amongst teacher trainees during their teaching practicum. …