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К содержанию номера журнала: Вестник КАСУ №2 - 2010

Автор: Соломина Ксения Петровна

One of the main principles of Kazakhstan public policy in the sphere of education is spreading of information technologies in educational system [9]. Due to this fact one of the main objectives of educational system of KR is introduction of new educational technologies, informatization of education, access to international global communication chains [9]. That’s why the strategies of education in KR nowadays are mostly computer-oriented.

The President of Kazakhstan suggests all educational establishments to provide usage of computers not only as isolated science, but also in combination with other school subjects.

The variant of such combination in English language classroom is Computer-Assisted Language Learning or CALL, which can be interpreted as an approach to language teaching and learning in which computer technology is used as an aid to the presentation, reinforcement and assessment of material to be learned, usually including a substantial interactive element [4].

Introduction of information technologies into the English language classroom provides an increase in language comprehension, particularly in developing grammar skills, because computer helps to form receptive grammar skills in reading and auding, efficient grammar skills in writing, to control the formation level of grammar skills on bases of test programs, to provide reference-information support (computer-aided grammar reference manual, grammar error detecting system on morphological and syntactical levels) [8].

There is the variety of approaches to define term information technology, but the most appropriate for us is given by A.V. Solovjev and sounds as following: information technology is the complex of electronic aids (including hardware, software and informational components) and ways of their functioning, used for teaching activity realization [5].

To the hardware we can refer personal computer, modem, telephone; to the software – general-purpose programs (such as text, tabular and graphics editors) and learning-purpose programs (electronic multimedia textbooks (courses) on CD-ROM; computer courseware; networking methodological materials; expert-consulting means; teaching means on the bases of virtual reality) and system means (such as networking programs and packs, which support net-controlling and net-learning); and finally to the informational component we can refer databases, question-answering system, electronic libraries.

Electronic textbooks and multimedia programs play the most important part in the learning process, because they provide significant opportunities for mastering the language aspects, forming language skills and abilities. There are different methods of their application [6]:

- IT as trainer for student’s individual work under teacher’s control (Computer Assisted Language learning). Ability to be easily integrated into traditionally organized non-computerized teaching process is an advantage of IT. Disadvantage is a lack of computers, lack of qualitative teaching programs, difficulties in designing integral courses.

- IT as a system for delivering and storing educational information (distant learning of foreign language). An advantage is a provision of all the educational services; a disadvantage is a lack of general approach to practical courses development.

- IT as a mean of information demonstration for a group of students (Brain Storm). Non-communicativeness of IT is compensated, but such type of work is designed for a group of students, the means of automatic control are not involved, corrective functions are not used.

- IT as a mean of delivering messages for intergroup teaching under tutor’s control in a project activity and in writing compositions teaching. It can be easily integrated into traditional educational system, students get opportunity to use their knowledge in practice, but they strongly depend on their teacher.

- IT as a mean of educational information delivering (telecommunicational informing of students). Students can independently get necessary information, but the learning process is not controlled by teacher.

- IT as a consultative mean (expert consultation for students with a help of intellectual tutoring programs). Corrective and education functions of IT are optimally used. Disadvantage is a smallness of expert programs, lack of tasks models, needed for managing intellectual systems.

- IT as a mean of foreign communication imitation (stimulation of using foreign speech skills orally).

Students get opportunity to communicate with computer using studied language. But the subject matter of existing programs and amount of this programs are limited, therewith there is an absence of conscious spontaneous speech generating and analyzing programs.

There is a variety of computer tasks and methods of teaching a foreign language grammar, the most frequently used are the following [7]:

1) A question-and-answer dialogue. The student should answer directly to the computer questions basing on the language material given in this question;

2) A dialogue with multiple-choice. The student should choose an appropriate answer from the list;

3) A dialogue with free-forming answers. Program provides all the possible answers to the computer question;

4) Filling in gap tasks. Computer presents to the students texts or sentences with gaps. Students should fill in the gaps, using Russian word clues for translation into English and using in appropriate tense form. Students may also take words or word combinations ordered by computer;

5) Tasks for grammar self-control. The following kinds of tasks are possible:

а) Computer suggests list of sentences/phrases for translation;

b) Computer suggests to match two lists of sentences/phrases (Russian and English);

c) Computer suggests matching two lists of foreign sentences/phrases and finding synonyms and antonyms;

d) Computer suggests a list of foreign grammar phenomenon and a list of their definitions. Students should match them with definitions.

1) Computer programs:

a) Match master (program for matching grammar items). Students should correctly match the grammar units.

b) Choice master (program for choosing variants). This is an easy program with multiple-choice and error indicator.

c) Clause master or Gap master (program for filling in the gaps). Program presents texts or sentences with gaps.

d) Crossword master (program for filling in crossword). Program allows creating and guessing crosswords on the computer with casual or studied words.

e) Substitution master (program for substitution). Students should substitute enhanced phrases with other ones.

f) Test master (test program in question-and-answer form). Chains of “question-answer” pairs are given to the students, and their task is to type a full answer.

2. Computer games.

J. Higgins [1] describes three different models of grammar teaching: Instructional, Revelatory and Conjectural. In Instructional grammar, explicit statements and formal exercises are consciously learnt and presented in a systematically organised way. In Revelatory grammar, the exchange of meaningful language is promoted; grammatical correctness is not the goal and sometimes it is not even demanded from students. No systematic progression of contents is followed and no memorisation is required. Conjectural grammar implies working with the target language in an inductive way. Thus, students work out rules from data, form hypotheses and test them. By this kind of grammar is also understood when students arrange their partial knowledge of a language into a system that they can share it with someone else.

Most of the functions that are undertaken in an English language classroom where Instructional grammar is followed are easy enough to computerise. These functions would be presenting students’ statements in the form of rules and ask them to memorise those rules; using some examples to explain students the theoretical points and assigning mechanical tasks. Besides, attention to error correction is also considered to be quite relevant.

The task of judging the different reasons why students commit different kinds of errors is better fulfilled by teachers than by computers, since they have more channels of communication open to their students. Besides, teachers know every one of their students as individual beings; and this enables them to distinguish, on many occasions, between errors due to carelessness, those due to round misunderstanding of a grammar principle, and those which consist on some kind of students experimenting with the target language (i.e. an attempt to see if a principle applied in one context also works in another different context). Nevertheless, this capacity of teachers to discriminate the different reasons why their students make some mistakes or others is somewhat instinctive; and this instinctive quality of the capacity results in a hindrance for teachers to transfer their skills to a machine. In sum, the teacher’s knowledge about their students cannot be systematised and turned into a language that computers can understand. There are some experts, though, that have achieved some important advances through the creation of intelligent tutoring systems.

In Revelatory grammar computers play a much more relevant role. Here, computers are not only used to give traditional exercises a new format, but they directly help to enhance acquisition by means of the many resources they offer and thanks to their motivating power. In Revelatory grammar any language item is used to potentiate the target language; then, any text shown by the computer is considered to be meaningful language; and this obviously includes, for example, the instructions given by the computer to install a program-given the fact, obviously, that these instructions are written in English. If the programs that have to be installed by the students are the latest version of a game or simply one that they really like, we can imagine the interest that they are going to put in order to quickly understand the instructions for the installation. If the teacher wants to potentiate group work, then s/he just will have to arrange groups of students working with the same computer (it has been advised that no more than three students should work with the same computer). Soon, the teacher will witness how enthusiastically students collaborate in order to achieve the desired goal.

On the other hand, it is obvious that the more interesting the task is, the highest motivation students will show. Some of the tasks that student prefer are branching stories, adventures, puzzles, or logic problems in which the computer has the role of providing an attractive context for the use of language. Many teachers may think that, although highly motivating for students, these tasks do not help students to improve their grammar knowledge. A more optimistic eye, though, will discover that many Revelatory tasks can be slanted towards particular forms. Thus, for example, an adventure game in which an enquiry to a witness has to take place can serve to potentate the practice of past tenses.

One disadvantage of these kinds of activities, according to Higgins [1] is that little systematic progress can be perceived, and this may depress learners as much as teachers. Nevertheless, this disadvantage exists when a given syllabus is tried to be covered through the above-mentioned tasks. We have to take into account that not every task can be slanted towards a concrete linguistic feature and that some of these tasks are extremely time-consuming so that on many occasions it turns out to be that too much time has been spent for the student to practice an extremely simple aspect of the language. We cannot forget, though, that the attitude with which a person faces a learning process is determinant for that learning process to be successful. In this sense, the motivating power that computers have for students guarantees that they are going to face English with a positive attitude; and this increases the possibility of the learning/acquisition process to be a successful one.

Information technologies suggest one more way to learn foreign language grammar. It’s the Internet [2].

Through the Internet people could pick any language they wanted to learn and learn it right there in their own homes, at their own pace, any time of day. There are now countless such products on the market, most of them available on the online forum.

There are five main reasons to use the Internet for teaching English grammar. Taken together, these reasons help bring English teaching ALIVE (see Picture 1):

1. Authenticity: Language learning is most successful when it takes place in authentic, meaningful contexts.

The Internet is a low-cost method of making language learning meaningful; it gives students 24-hour access to vast amounts of authentic material on any topic they are interested in and allows opportunities for authentic communication and publishing.

2. Literacy: The ability to read, write, communicate, research, and publish on the Internet represents important new forms of literacy needed in the 21st century. By combining English and technology in the classroom, you will help your students master the skills they will need for academic and occupational success.

3. Interaction: Interaction is the major means of acquiring a language and gaining fluency. All effective English reaching incorporates some kind of interactive communication in the curriculum. The Internet provides opportunities for students to interact 24 hours a day with native and nonnative speakers from around the world.

4. Vitality: Too often, classrooms are reflective of T.E.N.Q.R as students get bogged down in memorizing grammar rules or decontextualized vocabulary. The Internet can inject an element of vitality into teaching and motivate students as they communicate in a medium that is flexible, multimodal, constantly changing, and connected to their real life needs.

5. Empowerment: Mastery of the Internet increases the personal power of teachers and students. It allows them to become autonomous lifelong learners who can find what they need when they need it and collaborate with others to help construct new knowledge. By mastering the Internet, teachers and students can become shapers of the multimedia future.

Picture 1

Authenticity

Literacy

Interaction

Vitality

Empowerment

One caveat: Though the Internet provides a valuable medium for helping bring classrooms alive, successful results depend on how the Internet is used. Just as students won’t learn simply by being brought to a classroom, neither will they learn by being sat down in front of a networked computer. In the end, it is not the technology itself but the teaching that makes the difference. In fact, because of the complexity of the medium, using the Internet well is especially important. So don’t look to the Internet as a quick fix for all the problems that your students face. Do be prepared for a lot of hard work and frustration that come from trying to use a new and evolving medium. But also be prepared for the rewards of helping your students to master new technologies to communicate with peers around the world [3].

REFERENCES

1. Higgins, J. The Computer and Grammar Teaching. London: Longman. - 1986. – Vol. 153, №2. P. 31-45.

2. Leech, G. Computers in English Language Teaching and Research. London: Longman. – 1986. – Vol. 284, №1. P. 87-98.

3. Lewis, R. Computers and Language Teaching. London : Longman. – 1986. – Vol. 154, №2. P. 57-62.

4. Philip, M. CALL in its Education Context. London: Longman. – 1986. – Vol. 211, №1. P. 135-138.

5. Беспалов П.В. Компьютерная компетентность в контексте личностно-ориентированного обучения // Педагогика. – 2003. - №4. – С. 41-45.

6. Лаврышева Т.П. Использование интерактивных методов обучения для развития самостоятельности учащихся на уроках математики, литературы, английского языка и др. // Методика обучения иностранному языку. – 2008. - №1. – С. 3-13.

7. Маслыко Е.А. Настольная книга преподавателя иностранного языка / Маслыко Е.А., Бабинская П.К., Будько А.Ф., Петрова С.М.. – 3-е изд, стереотип. – М., 1997. – 522 с.

8. Нефедорова Л.В. Формирование готовности будущего учителя к компьютеризации педагогического процесса: автореф. дис. … канд. пед. наук. – Алматы, 1997. – 23 с.

9. Об образовании: Закон Респ. Казахстан от 7 июня 1999 г. № 389 // ЮРИСТ [Электронный ресурс]: справ. система / Восточно-Казахстанский региональный центр. – Усть-Каменогорск, 2005.



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