Technology and Language in Education: The Effect of New Technology on Teaching Languages
Annie Moore, a 15-year-old girl from Ireland arrived at Ellis Island in New York City on January 1, 1892. She was the first immigrant to come to that United States immigration station, but she was certainly not the last. According to the U.S. Census Bureau (2000), 28.4 million of the 285.2 million US residents in 2000 were foreign-born. With such a large amount of our population being foreign-born, the need for effective language education is immense. The use of technology is very useful in alleviating the pressure of such a tremendous demand for ESL (English as a second language) and EFL (English as a foreign language) programs (Education World, Inc., 2004).
Schools all over the country are adding the latest technology to their classrooms, and students are benefiting tremendously. Programs designed to incorporate reading and writing practices in a foreign language are modernized with technological advances which make it possible to interact with not only people within the classroom but students and teachers at other schools and all over the world. With the touch of a button, students at a school that might not be able to afford a foreign language program can be in contact with a school that has rich foreign language resources. Students can send written assignments over the Internet to be checked and graded; they can take online quizzes and assessments that will be graded within seconds and give instant feedback for the student. Real-time instant conversation makes it possible for a student anywhere to keep up with what their class is covering, regardless of whether the student is out sick, or unable to be in class, or even if they live across the country. Technological advances make the task of teaching language and breaking communication barriers a much easier duty. Distance, ignorance, a lack of teachers, and unavailability of resources are no longer obstacles for educators and students alike.
As described in an article by Robert Macias and David James Rose in Hispanic magazine, Educators in Arlington County Schools in northern Virginia reacted uniquely when faced with the dilemma of not being able to address all of the individual needs of each student. When the unavailability of a teacher, or lack of enough interest in a class made it unrealistic to create a class, they simply connected schools together. They use an innovative program called the Electronic Classroom to broadcast a class and its instructor from one location to other sites instantly. According to Pat Teske, distance-learning specialist for the Washington, D.C.-area district, “the Electronic Classroom connects three classrooms in county high schools via video and audio monitors” (1994).
An Advanced Placement course was taught in three area high schools- Wakefield, Yorktown, and Washington-Lee. The teacher, who instructed from a specially designed site at...