The Impact of Using Technology in Teaching English as Second Language

8 August 2016

Mahsa Rabiee Khouzestan Science and Research branch, Islamic Azad University Ahvaz-Iran Abstract The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of using technology in teaching English as a second language. It considers some techniques which can promote English language students to take a step forward on their learning skills by using technology. In this research, the focus is on reading and writing ability of learners.

During the study, some techniques, such as: Use of Computers, Use of Electronic Dictionaries, Use of Internet Text-Chatting and writing E-mails were taken into account and the results of these techniques on the learners were examined. In order to do the research, 20 students at pre-university level were selected according to their English scores in final exam of previous year. The students were examined by test-retest. Retest was taken from them after a month of using such techniques. Findings of the study indicate that students have the same performance on re-test.

Then, they were asked to answer a questionnaire and state their comments on deficiency and advantages of this study. Suggestions for further research are also offered at the end of this paper. 1. Introduction It is well known that our new life is highly affected by the era of information technology, and technology plays an important role in today’s human society development. Based on this fact, it is indispensable to take advantage of the modern technological facilities in aiding the task of English language education.

Technology has surely influenced human activities and education is not an exception. Applying technology to the learning is becoming an important educational issue today. It has also influenced foreign language teaching and learning in many different ways. The application of practice with the most relevant technology in a particular context is challenging language teachers to achieve effective teaching with technology. Computers like other forms of technology are linked to people’s lives, jobs, hopes and dreams. Students trying to learn English as a second language need further language support.

They need to practice in hearing language, reading language, speaking language, and writing language in order to develop their experience and skills (Ybarra & Green, 2003). For doing such tasks, they are in need of using various tools which can help them learn the language easily and effectively. In this way, the effect of technology has become huge in teaching and learning the language in addition to the instructor’s role. In other words, the role of the instructor together with the role of the technology can lead to advanced learning results (Sharma, 2009). 2. Review of Literature, Study Purpose and Significance

Technology and English language education are related to each other (Singhal, 1997). During the sixties and seventies of the last century English language learning laboratories were being used in various educational institutions. The traditional language laboratory was consisted of a number of small cabinets, provided with a cassette deck, a microphone and a headphone for each one. Teachers use a central control panel to monitor their students’ interactions. The main advantage of that type of technology was that verbal behavior of students would help them to quickly learn the second language.

The students’ skills can be enhanced by encountering more practical drill problems. Although the language laboratory was a positive step in linking technology and language education, this technique was actually tedious and boring for learners (Singhal, 1997). Also, there were minimal interactions between the teacher and his students. In the way that English language is an international language and is being used widely in businesses, academic, and other aspects of life, research efforts have been going on to investigate ways to improve learning languages including learning English as a foreign language.

In Iran, English language education is considered especially important for experts of the other fields. The problem is that students who have received several years of formal English instruction frequently face difficulties to use the language, whether in the spoken or written form. You may see someone who has studied 18 to 20 terms in an institute but he/she is unable to express himself/herself in English. The gravity of the situation comes to eyes when, if not many, some technical subjects are not satisfactorily learned until the students study relevant text books and materials in English.

Most students have problems when they are asked to learn the new words in a single lesson. Some of them who have found the job very difficult will quit the job at the very beginning, and some try to memorize a word list. None of us can forget the tough job of memorizing word lists during the school days. Learning vocabulary in isolation, in a non-meaningful way, without any pronunciation hints, as it is common among Iranian students, will definitely lead to short term memory storage, frequent mispronunciations and a total lack of knowledge of the usage.

Students, unfamiliarity with phonetic alphabet, on the one hand, and the teachers, incorrect pronunciations in some cases, on the other hand, prevents students from getting help from their auditory memory when they need to remember the previously learned items. The present study aimed at investigating the ways that technology can help students of the second language to learn English in an effective way and somehow solve their learning problems. 3. Research Questions This study was guided by the following research question: 1. Does technology have any effect on improving input and output skills?

Do you think technological tools can motivate students more in learning English as a second language? 3. How is the technical capability of schools and English institutions to support the teaching process? 4. Method 4. 1. Participants The study was conducted at a class of Fatemiyeh High school which is located in Ahvaz, Iran. The participants were 20 female students whose field was Natural Science, between the ages of 17 to 18. They were selected according to their English scores in final exam of previous year. The scores ranged from 14 to 18 out of 20.

They all were native Persian speakers and enrolled before in this high school. 4. 2. Instruments The research utilized the following materials. It consisted of a test on reading and writing, use of technological tools like: Computer, Electronic Dictionaries, Internet Text-Chatting, writing E-mails, re-test and a questionnaire. The following sections include further details about these instruments: Test: At the first of study, a test on vocabulary, grammar and reading comprehension, based on the first lesson of pre-university English book was taken from students to check their reading and writing abilities.

Use of Computer: Computers can be used to develop the writing skills of English language learners. Writing statements and paragraphs in a foreign language can be very challenging for the students. However, the use of computers and writing-based programs can make the writing task much easier and enjoyable. Grammar skills can also be improved with the aid of word processing programs. The learner can highlight a specific part of the written text through underlining, bolding, italicizing, or changing the font size and color of the text with the aid of these programs which have the capability of automatically checking the spelling and grammar.

So, the use of the computer as a tool in studying grammar is much more motivating for the student than the process of traditional writing with a paper and a pencil (Ybarra & Green, 2003). Use of Electronic Dictionaries: Another modern way for improving the vocabulary of the learner focuses on the use of electronic dictionaries designed specifically for English language learners. These dictionaries have several built-in functions and tools that are not provided in book dictionaries (Constantinescu, 2007). Electronic dictionaries are also easy to use and represent quick tools for vocabulary acquisition.

Use of Internet Text-Chatting: Text chatting is another important technical method for developing writing ability. It provides an on-line and quick tool for writing and expressing thoughts, transferring ideas, and responding immediately with the other side writer. Writing E-mails: Electronic mail is a modern way for writing and transferring messages through the internet. Using e-mail can be a very effective means for improving writing skills. Students can use E-mails to learn how to respond to the incoming messages using some formal statements and meaningful language (Singhal, 1997).

Re-Test: After a month of using such techniques, the same test as re-test was taken from students to see what changes happen. Questionnaire: A set of questions about the advantages and limitations of this study asked from students to consider the barriers and suggestions for further studies. 4. 3. Procedures This study used a quasi-experimental test-retest design. The participants of this study attended in English class two sessions on 90 minutes per week. The study took place during participant’s regular English class period.

For achieving the goals of this study, students were asked to answer a test on the base of the first lesson of their English book. After that, they were taught to use technology for learning English during a month. For example, they used e-books or other reading-based programs to improve their reading skills, they sent E-mails or chatting together to improve their writhing abilities and also they used electronic dictionaries to check the meaning of a word or something else to promote their vocabularies. After a month of using these techniques, the same test was taken from them to consider the changes. 5. Results 60% of students believe that they need some courses to learn how to use such programs or tools. 45% of students mentioned that one month is not enough to investigate such study. Nowadays using technology in learning a second language has become a real necessity and computers is being viewed as an integral part of the learning activity. This paper has reviewed briefly how technology can be utilized in developing the language skills of the learner. As a result, the following concluding remarks and recommendations can be recorded: 1.

Modern technical ways should be followed for effective learning and teaching of the second language. 2. English language teachers should encourage their students to use technology in developing the language skills. 3. Educational institutions should modernize their technical instruction capabilities by using new equipments and laboratories for supporting the teaching process. References Barani, G. (2013). The Impact of Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) on Vocabulary Achievement of Iranian University Students EFL Learners. International Journal of Basic Sciences & Applied Research.

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