They talked a lot about technology in ELT. A panel of technology experts, bringing experiences from outside the ELT world, discussed trends such as machine translation, artificial intelligence, chatbots and future workplaces. Their perspectives should challenge our current thinking, and help us consider future possibilities.
We were listening to the experts describing their experiences with teaching English using new technologies.
The listeners asked questions such as;
- What does exactly technology bring to our English teaching?
- Can technology substitute the teachers?
- Do we have to be the digital teachers?
- Will technology improve the education in the poor countries?
Since computers started to be introduced in language learning (and in education in
general) people have rightly asked whether the investment we are making in these
technologies gives us value for money. As digital technologies have taken a hold
in society in general, this particular question is not asked quite so often, but it is
still important to make sure that the technologies that we have available are used
effectively. People are always tempted to try to make an argument for technology
having an impact on the development of pedagogy and in many cases we can see
that the use of technology has enabled teachers to re-think what they are doing.
We also see people trying to populate this domain by talking about notions like the
‘flipped classroom’, ostensibly a methodology that sees input as occurring at ‘home’
and physical classrooms being used as spaces to explore what has been presented
in the input. This is far from being a new idea, but these agendas are pushed for
a while and then disappear again. What is a contender for a methodology that is
central to the world of technology and language learning is that of blended learning
(Motteram and Sharma, 2009). We see this methodology still being developed, but
when handled best it is the most likely candidate for a starting point for getting
teachers to work with technology in their practice. It is still the case that most
teachers work in physical classrooms and looking at ways that these spaces can
be augmented with digital technologies is a very good starting point.