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К содержанию номера журнала: Вестник КАСУ №2 - 2007

Автор: Беляева А.А.

Computers, CD-players, MP-3 players have become demands nowadays. It is convenient, takes less time and prestigious to use. There are more and more programs, created for different aims: teaching/learning, amusement, creating projects and others. Tape-recorders and books are used less now. There are more and more children you can see, playing computer games rather than reading books. People prefer computers to communication. You can do almost all operations using computer: meet new people, study, buy food and things, even clothes. Computers were created to make human being’s life easier, helping and serving, but it is obvious we are becoming slaves of our creature.

As I am going to discover problems with the use of technology, let me borrow the term “Artificial intelligent system” for studying using technology. Who made the system intelligent? And why was it created? The answer is people and for people. The reflected field of the discussion theme is education. To begin teaching you have to create a plan to follow. What I mean by a plan is goals, objectives and curriculum. How to choose right technology to teach? First of all you have to think what is important to do for a teacher and where teacher’s presence isn’t important. How to differentiate these two points?

At first let me to remind about advantages and disadvantages of electronic machines – computers:

1) It offers a powerful self-access facility. Whenever a student has free time s/he can call up the programs held by computers, besides computers are sensitive to the learner’s level of proficiency. Though this advantage can be seen as a disadvantage, because computers are undertaking functions that should be performed by trained teachers. Teachers know 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 of some kind of student’ experimenting with the target language (i.e. an attempt to see if a principle applied on one context also works in another different context). So it is the capacity of teachers to define the different reasons why their students make some mistakes or others is somewhat instinctive. And this quality doesn’t refer to a machine. The teachers knowledge about their students cannot be systematized and turned into a language that computer can understand.

2) It gives a new role to teaching material. Sometimes teaching materials are passive. In special programs materials adapt themselves to the requirements of the individual student, so they become interactive. Using computer a student’s answer has sequence with the following tasks and the students are offered complementary tasks like an individual work. Students’ answers are different and their situations don’t fit and fulfill each other, because for the same situation different people think different ways. If we take an ideal classroom, where students are interested in each other’s answers, there are students who will keep silence or agree with others. So s/he hasn’t an opportunity to be corrected and to be offered complementary tasks.

3) It provides with information. Teacher takes analyst and planner roles, so computer takes an information role. Teacher prepares ways to find information and special kind of information, according to the curriculum and the level of students. The disadvantage is that sometimes teachers are not good at computers and can’t explain their students how to use a program, they are not familiar with basic internet technology in order to anticipate potential problems. But they have to promote a complementary relationship with computers.

4) Using computer helps to develop critical thinking, imagination. It really saves time, doing different kinds of operation. Students have to use imagination in order to counterbalance the lack of technological availabilities. If software is not available, they should be ready to look for free software that can be found on the web; if working on-line is forbidden by the institution, they should take the most of the possibilities that working off-line offers. So if there is no possibility to work with specialized software, the decision of giving the current teaching method a new format is a right one. Indeed, it is obvious that students’ motivation and interest raise if they do fill-in-the-gap exercise on the computer rather than if they do it on a piece of paper. But for young learners it is difficult to use computer because their typing speed is low. Their motivation may fall down. So programs should be selected according to the age and literacy of students. And the disadvantage is that more and more students refuse to use traditional things like paper and a pen, and use calculator, instead or computer drawing a graph or a picture instead of using paints and crayons. It is very important to use pen or pencils because you nerves in the tops of your fingers are enabled and it helps to escape some nervous diseases. That is why from the early age clever parents give their children different kinds of mechanisms at an early age.

Choosing a technology for teaching you have to realize

1) opportunities where a teacher can be substituted.

2) define the basic points you subject contains: e.g. in English it is - grammar

- reading and writing

- listening and speaking

3) age of students

4) availability of a computer room and a regular, software especially designed for ESL, and an access to a reliable network environment.

What is the main difference between a teacher and a machine? The answer is communication. Machine “tells” but it doesn’t interact. Is it really important to interact? Why not substitute teachers with machines? Time changes, may teachers be out of days? Why spend money giving teachers salary if a machine can do all operations? For the beginning, let’s answer the question: what is communication? And is it possible to exist without communication? Human beings need interaction wherever they live and do it different ways. Why is communication so important for us? I think first of all because of emotions and experience we receive from communication. To understand and being understood is very important in communication. There are different crisis happen in the world because of mis communication. What does a new-born child do when it is born? S/he tells us aloud that s/he is alive.

What is communication?

*We need to establish a basic understanding of how communication works. Four propositions give the essential foundation:

1 Communication is involvement

2 Communication is a process.

3 Meaning is internal and individual

4 Communication is what is heard, not only what is said.

PURPOSE: Having Something to Say

Тhe purpose for а particular communication is often not overtly recognized, though usually it саn bе identified with а little thought. What is to bе achieved, the content to bе shared, the needs to bе met, and the tensions to bе resolved are stimuli that prompt communication between individuals and groups.


Тhe purpose is really inseparable from the соmmunicator/ Nothing happens without а communicator. Who conveys the message, as wеll as who hears it and the interaction between the messenger, message, and audience deeply influences the communication process. This triangle of tensions bеtween audience, communicator, and purpose creates the energy that drives the entire process.

SIGNALS: How It Is Said

Signals аге the raw materials of communication, to bе refined into billions of differing patterns, each сарablе of conveying ideas. These signals аге аn integral part of being alive, essential to expressing and shaping culture. Mutually understood signals аге the fabric of culture, indistinguishable from culture itself. It is bу the use of signals that the essential bond is built between audience and communicator. Because culture and signals аге inseparable, effective intercultural communication begins with learning how signals аге used in different cultures.

MEDIA: So That More Саn Hear

Signals саn bе extended beyond face-to-face relationships and even beyond the limits of time and space. These extensions, the media, inevitably change the nature of the message and its perception bу the audience. New dimensions аге added to the communication experiеnсе bу the media-along with new problems.

AUDIENCE: Receiving the Signals

Audiences actively participate in the communication process, selecting, interpreting, and interacting within thе social networks involved in communication. Because thе audience is active, the message originator should select and shape the signals according to the audience's context, experience, preferences, and understandings.

COMPREHENSION: Did They Understand What They Heard?

It is individuals who perceive the message, even though their perception is filtered through group processes and the cultural framework. Comprehension is individual; thus, message perception ultimately depends оn personal psychological patterns.

CHANGE AND FEEDBACK: Has Anything Happened?

Change requires the use of channels reaching both the group and the individual. The message originator monitors signals from participant in the communication process, adjusting form and, content so the message will bе more clearly perceived bу both the group and the individual (Smith, Donald K. Creating understanding, Michigan: Zoldervan Publishing house 1991).

Let’s see what components computer has and doesn’t have in its communication:

1. Purpose. The main task of computers is to give different kinds and different volume of information. You can find answers for a huge amount of questions. And a teacher can find programs for an individual or group work using computer.

2. Communicator. Computer “speaks”, giving information.

3. No signals, because it conveys ideas one way (you can just read the information) without essential expression and shaping.

4. No media. Computer is a machine and its world and the world of human being are different. Such things like car noise, or windy and rainy weather, a room with its sounds: ticking clock or switched on TV set helps us to associate information and we remember it better and faster. Machine can’t provide us with information like above mentioned.

5. Audience. Computer’s users are people. So it has audience.

6. No comprehension. Computer’s task is giving information. Information perception is individual and depends on psychological patterns.

7. Change and feedback (partly). There are some programs foreseen for error corrections, suggesting different exercises according to the students’ levels. But computer can’t adjust understanding the material for more clearly perceiving.

1. It is obvious that teacher can be substituted only in one position: giving ancillary information and partly correcting mistakes and suggesting exercises. Only teacher can control the perceiving of the information and define the source of mistakes and, really, to offer suitable exercises according to the source of the mistakes.

2. English teachers should put many important factors into consideration before using a technology for teaching.

First of all, they should evaluate the computer skills of learners. Learners with little or no knowledge of computers will first require a thorough introduction in basic computer skills including word processing, e-mail usage and the operation of browser software.

The second factor is related to the learners’ language level and navigation on the web. If teachers want their students to work with ESL web sites, they will have to take into account that only intermediate or advanced level learners will ensure an effective navigation on the web, since most of the ESL web sites require high knowledge of the English language.

Thirdly, a few technical issues should be taken into account. It is obvious that availability of a computer room on a regular basis is the first thing that teachers need for technology to be successful. The experience of many teachers has revealed that three students per computer is the maximum for the teaching experience to be effective. Besides, teachers should have at their disposal software especially designed for ESL. On the other hand, navigation on the web implies other specific requirements, such as: reliable network, modern equipment and browser software, teachers’ acquaintance with software, student’s imagination.

Choosing a program for teaching grammar, you have to remember about the following necessary things:

- Rules with examples, presented in a systematically organised way;

- Tests, exercises, mechanical tasks;

- Error correcting and scoring programs.

Most of the functions above are easy to present students in a computerised way. 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. Besides, attention to error correction is also considered to be quite relevant.

Choosing a technology for listening and speaking, pay attention to the following facts:

- There is a great amount of specific software created for training the skills of listening and speaking.

- There are many programs which you can use to listen to different accents.

- There are many games for listening and speaking.

The problem is that, rather than being truly interactive, the activities designed for improving listening and speaking are mainly based on drills. Thus, learners have the possibility of enacting dialogues -generally of the question-answer type- with characters belonging to the program, but these are indeed closed dialogues; that is, learners cannot ask or answer whatever they want, but they have to limit themselves to predetermined texts. Nevertheless, despite the lack of true/real interaction, this experience has been proved to be highly motivating, since many of the graphic environments that programs offer turn out to be quite realistic. Thus, if learners concentrate on the activity, they may feel -up to a certain extent- just as if they were really speaking to a hostess in the airport, or to a bobby in Market Square.

For reading and writing, remember:

- It motivates students to read on the computer screen rather than a book;

Maybe this preference for the printed page is a matter of habit, and it is quite probable that the day will arrive when laptop computers, or even more modern artefacts, will become so widespread as to substitute books. With these computers, people will be able to read as comfortably as they choose -sitting on a sofa or even lying on the beach-, and trees will stop being literature victims. Reading is more effective in computers than in books. For example, computer activities which involve rebuilding or rearranging texts have proved their value, not to mention the act of reading the instructions that are included in a CD game so that players know what to do in order to be able to play effectively. And even more effective intensive reading in the computer can be when the texts that students face are messages sent by the characters of an interactive computer program.

- The majority of students -mainly in primary education- are not used to using a keyboard.

As a consequence of this, the process of writing becomes a painfully slow one. Nevertheless, learning to use the keyboard need not to take long, and this insignificant drawback is counterbalanced with many advantages. Thus, teachers can again take advantage of the enjoyment that students find in manipulating computers. Writing an essay on paper has not the same attractiveness for them as writing it with a word processor. First of all, mistakes can be corrected much more easily, using word processor. Students do not have to give much importance to the order in which they write their ideas. They can easily change text order, and thus rearrange ideas, as many times as they want. Besides, grammar and spelling correction devices that word processors incorporate can be activated whenever teachers consider necessary. This way, students are made conscious of the mistakes or errors they have made, and have the possibility of either checking or trying to guess the correct option.


What is the difference between a human being and a machine? The answer is the ability to communicate and get change and feedback, sending signals to others. We use five senses: hearing, touch, taste, smell, sight. The computer is able to communicate one way, giving information. There are lots of things computer can do better that people, that is why it was created and more and more programs are still being created.

Teaching is also communication. In teaching it is obvious that the best explainer is the teacher. S/he can define if a student understands the theme or not, receiving feedback, and having interaction. Choosing the program for teaching any subject it is important to think about: age of students, available equipment, opportunities where a teacher can be substituted, and the main components of the subject you want to teach.

Computer gives great facilities and develops logic, increase motivation, but it is not a good idea to refuse hands-on training opportunities like drawing, painting, writing, counting. Adults have to prevent playing computer games and make their children go in for sports. Teachers have to check websites and information there before they ask their students to find, to prevent false and not suitable facts. Parents should be attentive to the speech and behavior of their children.


1. Smith, Donald K. Creating understanding, Michigan: Zoldervan Publishing house1991

2. DeVito J.A. The elements of public speaking, USA: Longman,1997

3. http://www.call

4. http://www.lacns.ac.uk/

5. http://www.realaudio.com/

6. http://www.edunet.com/

7. http://www.umass.edu/

К содержанию номера журнала: Вестник КАСУ №2 - 2007

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