Importance of ICT, SA and Oral Practice in Second Language Acquisition (Applied Linguistics)
Information Communication Technology (ICT) is one of the most attracted terminology in the field of education. This very concept has managed to bring a great deal of finesse in the traditional method of teaching. Where ICT has now, a fundamental importance in the traditional methods of teaching, it has also managed to embark its worth in the learning of second languages and content and language integrated learning, by acting as a major tool in doing so.
As per UNESCO, "ICT is a scientific, technological and engineering discipline and management technique used in handling information, its application and association with social, economical and cultural matters." With the very concept of ICT, treatment towards information has differed and evolved greatly. Now, the storage, manipulation, usage and dissemination of information have a complete new meaning. It is the digitalization of information which has provided us with an effective tool called Information Communication Technology. There are various methodologies used for this digitalization of information these days such as traditional computer-based and other digital communication technologies.
While understanding how using ICT can be helpful in language acquisition, it is important to understand how it operates. The very concept of ICT helps one to understand the meaning and value of the information, mechanism of its control, the limitations that one can face while controlling information and other legal considerations. Furthermore, capturing of the data, its verification and storage, manipulation further distribution (along with deigning required networks) and its security, are the few aspects of information management. Information systems strategy is the third part of ICT which helps one understands how this tool can be used for achieving one's goals. Some of the examples used for ICT are Multimedia PC, Laptop, Notebook Digital Video/Still Camera, Local area networking (LAN) and other Networks/Mobile Phone, WWW (World Wide Web), CD-ROM and DVD, E-mail and Chat, Digital Libraries, Computer Mediated Conferencing- Video Audio Conferencing, Virtual Reality, Application of Software like Word Processing, Spreadsheet, PowerPoint and simulation, speech recognition etc.
The Importance of ICT in Language Acquisition
As Information and Communication Technology (ICT) permeates the classroom of the 21st century, its role in teaching and learning has also changed. Ertmer, et al., (1999), cited in Scrimshaw (2004), traces this evolution in the role of ICT as growing from "a supplement to the curriculum," to being the means through which "reinforcement or enrichment of the current curriculum" can be achieved to finally being "a facilitator for an emerging curriculum" (Scrimshaw 16). In its development as a teaching tool, ICT has played a part in the process of learning and knowledge creation, and will become especially significant in impacting important 21st century skills such as "information handling, problem solving, communication and collaboration" (Kozma 13).
Where using different media of ICT is very common in today's students, one need to understand how it simplifies the learning of the subject matter for them. Using ICT enables students to have ready access to the selected information and it helps them interpret it. Furthermore, recognition of the patterns, relationships within the information also becomes easy. Modeling, predictions, arriving hypotheses, is part of small practices in today's education and ICT acts as an efficient tool for this purpose. Also, accuracy checks on the information which is being processed becomes more, reliable by using digital tools. In addition to that, reviewing and modifying one's work for the purpose of quality improvement also becomes easier. In short, using ICT helps in communicate with others and present information, evaluate their work, Improve efficiency, be creative and take risks, Gain confidence and independence.
Along with these few major benefits, it can further be used for integrating speaking, listening, reading and writing. It helps in enhancing interactive teaching and learning styles. It also enables teachers as well as students to exercise choice, work independently and make connections between their works in the language that they are intending to learn. Using ICT enables those students who are intending to gain proficiency in a certain language, to use a wide range of strategies to explore contrasts, comparisons and connections dynamically. Annotating texts in various innovative ways also becomes comparatively easier by using ICT.
For the students of linguistics, this usage of technology makes them have an enriched context of the literary work and helps them in visualizing texts in alternative versions. Furthermore, wide range of analytical and critical techniques becomes easier by using technology in learning linguistics as sorting and processing text and data becomes very quick and efficient. Since for learning a language, ordering and arranging text and data experimentally, using combinations of word, image, sound and hypertext, has a substantial importance; therefore using ICT in this regard provides maximum efficiency. Using technology ensures that evidences of the editing processes remains retained in the memory, therefore the progress of changes can be evaluated at the later phase. As compared to the old tools of data input such as type writers etc., using ICT helps in making necessary changes in the organizational structure and qualities of texts to suit different audiences and purposes. Similarly, the contemporary techniques provided by ICT helps in composing multi-authored texts and also texts available at different locations and destinations. Lastly, exercising choices of medium and design during composition also becomes easier.
ICT has proved to be highly helpful in gaining proficiency in all four skills of language learning. As per the research of Birmingham, in the junior years use the story board as a major tool to enable the students to create, capture, store, retrieve and interact with a range of images and texts. As per his research findings, this particular toll helped the students in learning by making them to exploration beneath the text avail le and allows them to have a better and deeper understanding of the plot, motives of the character and ambience in the text given. Similarly, Hall evaluated seventeen American studies by using Computer Assisted Instructions (CAI) in helping out students who have difficulties in learning due to poor reading skills. The studies were sorted into categories on the basis of computer instructions and the types of reading intrusion. The results showed that the students with who used CAI as a tool to overcome learning difficulties s related to reading, showed improved performance in decoding of the text given and comprehending it. Hence, CAI can be helpful in language acquisition if applied properly as it has an ability to reinforce the instructors' directions. However, one must understand that access to the tools (hardware and the software) doesn't act as a sufficient medium of overcoming learning disabilities and proper guidance is important.
A similar experiment was conducted by Lynch et. al in secondary school. The experiment lasted for ten weeks and the technological tool used was Computer Assisted Learning (CAL), in particular reading support software called RITA (Reader's Interactive Teaching Assistant). The students in the research group were in between the ages of 11 and as per the data collected about them, needed intensive support in reading. As per the findings, it was most effective for non-dyslexic children, with significant progress in those areas targeted and less progress in areas not targeted in Individual Education Plans. Mean scores did increase for each test, especially for reading and comprehension, and it reversed the general downward slide in standard scores. Highly variable results in spelling may have been due to a school-wide spelling initiative that caused extra difficulty. The least impressive results were for two ESL students where the computer-generated speech may have been too poor to assist with their comprehension difficulties. There were significantly higher levels of enthusiasm and commitment than with traditional approaches. Another study conducted by Nicolson concerning the students between ages of 6 to 8. The RITA (Reader's Interactive Teaching Assistant) system was used with HyperCard 2.3 on Apple Macintosh computers. And by the results of the study, even this ICT tool turned out to be effective in achieving its objective and also proved to be highly cost effective. But it was apparent that a continuing support was needed more by the students due to their age. Use of scanners linked to computers with speech synthesizers, was also used as a medium in one of the studies and it helped in enhancing the overall reading efficiency of the students (Scrase 308).
Similarly, there were several other researches that were conducted in order to evaluate the effect of using ICT for enhancing proficiency in speaking, listening and writing. Breese conducted a study on the use of ICT in developing writing skill. This study investigates the effects of unlimited access to word processors on students writing over a period of 20 months. Each of the 7 students was given a laptop to use for all their writing in English lessons. Samples of their narrative writing were compared with samples from a parallel class who only used hand writing methods. Students using word processors…
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