Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Week #2: ICTs in ELT

This week, we learned and discussed the topic of ICT in the field of English Language Teaching. ICT stands for Information and Communication Technology and it covers all technical means for processing and communicating information. This term is often used to describe digital technologies including methods for communication (transmission techniques, communications equipment, media) as well as techniques for storing and processing information (computing, data storage, etc.)
In our world, technology is changing so fast that people need to adjust and adapt to new trends and innovations in order for them to be updated and not to get left behind. In the case of education, both teachers and students should know how to use the new tools offered by technology and apply them in their daily life, specially in their learning/teaching contexts.
Nowadays, there are many associations around the world that integrate technology with language teaching in order to engage students in the language learning process. To fulfill this task, certain conditions are required. For example, it is mandatory at least to have Internet access and a computer. And it is also important to know the web tools available for this purpose and how to use them. A combination of all these aspects allow people to make use of ICTs in ELT effectively. However, this is an ideal context. In many cases teachers and/or students do not have either the money or the facilities to use ICTs.

In Venezuela, it is very difficult to use ICTs in all teaching contexts since most schools and universities need money and infrastructure in the first place. In my case, I teach at the Instituto Venezolano de Investigaciones Científicas (IVIC) and the availability of technological facilities is reasonable. There is one English lab with 15 computers approximately with free Internet access. Students have English lessons twice a week and can make use of the lab any time they want. Audio and video tools are also used in class as well as the Moodle platform to have extra practice and reinforce what learned in class. Nevertheless, I have never used with my students blogs or wikis to engage them in collaborative and interactive tasks. I think it would be interesting to create a wiki or a class blog aimed at students of science to promote active participation and collaboration while learning English.

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