Using Technology in the Languages Classroom from the 20th to the 21st Century: A Literature Review of Classroom Practices and Fundamental Second Language Learning Theories

Article excerpt


In this paper, the literature related to the use of technology m the languages classroom will be explored, n relation to the teaching and learning methodologies and approaches past and present as well as current research, comparisons are mace between the audio-lingual/visual classroom and the digital classroom by way of describing and comparing the language laboratory classroom and the iPod Touch classroom. Particular attention will be given to the use of the language laboratory in the 20th century and the use of the iPodTouch in me 21st century. The notion of information communication technology (ICT) in the language classroom as it relates to COT outer assisted language learning (CALL), where relevant to the use of iPodTouch devices is also explored. It is hoped that the study will assist teachers schools, systems and sectors as they make decisions about their language programs/courses and how they are resourced

Key Words

behaviourism, audio-lingual/audiovisual approach computer assisted language learning (CALL). creative construction theory, constructivism, teaching tecnnologies. second language teaching and learning, language learning outcomes



Education in the 21st century has seen technology being embraced with some schools implementing 1:1 laptop policies, where each student and teacher in a school is supplied with a laptop computer. As outlined by Scarino and Liddicoat (2009), information and communication technologies have become significant in social and economic development and increasingly important in education (Scarino & Liddicoat, 2009). While it can be stated that online learning encompasses a range of technologies such as the world wide web, email, chat, newsgroups and text, audio, or video conferencing delivered over computer networks (Dixon & Siragusa, 2009), this short study will focus its attention on the use of the language laboratory and the iPod Touch. Firstly, we will look at the ways in which information technologies enhance second language teaching and learning and also explore some of the research. This will be followed by an outline of the theories of learning, together with a description of the characteristics of a language laboratory classroom and an iPodTouch classroom as a practical example of how behaviourism, creative construction theory and constructivism are relevant to the use of technologies. Finally, a comparison will be made between the two learning contexts and conclusions drawn.

Information technologies and second language learning

Many students in the 21st century are very computer savvy and their love of technology is obvious. Teenagers today are using various software applications and platforms during their leisure time and this allows them to adapt to technological advancements. They are able to transfer this knowledge to the use of technology within the school setting. Online social networks, instant messaging and SMS texting, blogging and sending electronic messages are an integral part of the social interactions of teenagers. Students enjoy using communication tools which allow for collaboration (Rose, 2007).


Gruba establishes the connection between computers, students and teachers when he writes 'CALL [computer assisted language learning] is made possible through an interdependent relationship among computers, students and instructors' (Gruba, 2006, p. 630). He also argues that 'although claims are still being made that computers in education are 'oversold and underused', many educators now see their use as an expected and necessary part of learning' (Gruba, 2006, p. 630). Scarino and Liddicoat, make an important point when they write 'our students use contemporary technologies to create a language and communication unique to themselves and their sub-cultural group' (Scarino & Liddicoat, 2009 p. 56). …


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