Introduction

This paper is a summary of Chapter 12 “Developing language-learning materials with technology” by Gary Motteram which is a part of Materials Development in Language Teaching edited by Brian Tomlinson. In this chapter, the author aims to examine ways of developing teaching materials with the help of new technologies. Also, he provides some ideas on how teachers can use traditional resources of a blend classroom with the increasing number of technological tools. At the end, he presents two technologies that may currently be available only to a very few of us.

Why technology is important in language learning?

Appropriate technology is important in language learning as it provides learners with a good chance to communicate, helps to make the teaching materials more relevant to modern learners. It also serves as a kind of supplement to language classes because there is very little time for real language use in traditional language classes. Moreover, technology makes the learning meaningful and real and helps the learners to practice the language in the outside world through real tasks.

What are the opportunities provided by the new technology to language learning?

The new technology to language learning provides an opportunity to use Web 2.0 to create language-learning materials (e.g. production of videos, pictures, audios and texts), access exercises which are created by publishers and teachers, develop digital literacy, as well as provide authentic texts which were not produced to be used for learning languages. The new technology is also a good chance toprovide real world tasks that are performed in the target language, develop the output of learners learners' with the help of using blogs, Google Docs, Wiki and text chat tools and practice spoken language with individuals or groups of learners around the world by using such software as Skype and Virtual Classroom.

What are the benefits of using new technologies in developing language exercises?

The benefits of using new technologies in developing language exercises include more space that is given to teachers to work on parts of the curriculum that need more direct teacher intervention, useful practice, possibility to create exercises quickly and easily, either by individuals or groups, quick way to adapt or change the exercises, as well as accessibility all over the Internet.

What are the benefits of using new technologies such as podcasts and vodcasts in spoken communication?

Podcasts and vodcasts increase learners' motivation, help learners feel more connected and engaged with the lessons, provide an opportunity to see who we are communicating with via a video connection, as well as possibility to communicate in real time.  

How can we design teaching materials using new technology?

It is useful to have a framework which provides an opportunity to judge the potential value of an activity before devoting time and effort to its implementation. Bates (1995) has developed a model that is called ACTIONS with the aim to help teachers analyze the particular technology validity.

Why are creating blogs considered to be effective classroom support materials through blogs?

Blogs are considered to be full-blown multimedia tools. Thus, pictures, texts, sounds, videos, and interactive games can be widely used as effective classroom materials as they may be used as a permanent record for the learners and an interesting use of the technology, they can also be checked over easily by the teacher and be used in the class and for the extension and follow-up. Moreover, they can motivate students, help teachers’ role become one of supporting he learner.

What are Virtual Learning Environments? What are the skills needed from teachers to develop such a course?

Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) combines different tools in one place. Such environments are often bought by institutions at great cost and are sometimes used as a way of ensuring that teachers use digital technologies while working with their learners. Thus, teachers might need to have the the skills of managing task creation for work in forums and getting the most out of the learners as they post comments on the forum, as well as the ability to create or source the different digital resources.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of using interactive whiteboards in classrooms?

The advantage ofusing interactive whiteboards in classrooms is that they help with the management of activities, provide an opportunity to display and work with interactive exercises, material may be manipulated directly on the board, and the whiteboards make it possible to utilize any piece of software on the computer that is attached to the IWB. Among the disadvantages of using interactive whiteboards in classrooms one should mention the encouragement of teacher-centered teaching, possibility of information jumble and distort (as it may come from several input devices), high price, and easily stained surface.

How can the use of blog, VLE and IWB be analyzed using Bates’s model?

Bates’s model

Blog and VLE

IWB

Access

accessible in class and outside

fixed within a class

Costs

not expensive

expensive

Teaching and learning

add to the learners’ experiences of language

promote teacher-fronted classrooms

Interactivity and

user-friendliness

easy to use

very effective

Organisational issues

set up in an organization, or mount on an external server

teachers can learn how to do this without any problem

big investment

teachers need to be trained to use them.

Novelty

around for some time

large user base of people

Speed

takes longer to produce

Reflection

I found the article written by Gary Motteram was very informative and interesting. The main attention is focused on the new possibilities offered to material developers and teachers by new technologies such as blogs, chats, interactive whiteboards, YouTube, and Wiki. I assume that this chapter is closely linked to the main idea of the whole book as the material development refers to all the processes of producing or using the learning materials which include material design, production and evaluation.

What I like the most in this article is that the development of language-learning materials is linked to technology. Nowadays, technology plays a vital role in this process. These technological tools support the creation of learning materials and they are also considered to be a means of delivering content. Moreover, technology enhances learning and teaching processes and extends language learning opportunities outside the classroom. Thus, I believe that the author tackled a great issue as the development of materials still needs practice and much research.

The article states: “Mobile phones have not featured significantly in classes but their use for educational purposes is becoming more common.” I agree with this statement, but I feel that the writer fails to mention the significance of using such a technology in the process of language-learning development.

From my point of view, the author succeeded in showing how to get started with materials development using new technologies, and how to build on that initial step to create even more interesting and valuable materials. I enjoyed reading this article very much. It allowed me as a teacher to critically reflect upon the way technology is used in classrooms and outside. Gary Motteram presented numerous valuable points that will help me to focus on the future researches.

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