Education “English is a global language.” This clichéd sentence

Education today
has become a subject of burning controversy. Today, in the era of
liberalization, privatization and globalization, we try to groom, nourish and
nurture our students in such a way that they are fully equipped to meet the
global demand. “English is a global language.” This clichéd sentence has been
bookmarked in several studies and researches. But, is the teaching practice of
such a global language meeting the global demands? Today language learning has
transformed from conventional to conditional! The reason is, language learning
has opted out from the so-called “option” stated in the yesteryear students.
Teaching with the help of technology had been introduced long ago. But has it
been put to practice effectively? This paper focuses on whether the utilization
of technology in teaching language is effectively carried out?

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“English is a
global language”, “English has to be learnt”, “Improve your Listening skill”,
“Improve your speaking skill”, “Improve your reading skill”, “Improve your
writing skill”- such are the common phrases used by a language teacher.
Starting from the kindergarten level, teachers keep drilling students on
language “learning”. Is language a “subject” to learn? Of course, “No”.
Whatever be the language, a language has to be acquired. The base of all
language is proper understanding of the usage of words. Teachers find it a
Herculean task to train students and hence, they feel that technology can
replace language teaching.

“Master English in
60 days”, “Master the art of English in 100 days”! Sounds absurd and
impossible. Let us consider each ones mother-tongue. It was not mastered in so
termed 60 days or 100 days. Continuous practice and effortless usage marked the
acquisition and mastery. Likewise, English language cannot be mastered until
practiced. Even in Bernard Shaw’s “Pygmalion”, it took ceaseless effort and
days to months to become poised and well-spoken as a Duchess. The
transformation from the Convent garden flower-girl to the so-termed Duchess
flair was not over a few days but took “months”. Not just a matter of time but
matter of practice!

The teaching
method has slowly undergone a shift in gear to the technology-assisted teaching
methodology. The term technology-assisted in itself states that conventional
method is still in practice while an additive of technology is added. But this
will never replace the teaching process. Language learning has moved away from
the essentials. Grammar though an essential element in any language, has to be
taught in an expressive manner. Can technology enhanced learning replace a
teacher with “flesh and blood”? Can technology express much more effective than
a teacher?

Let’s take for
example the software used to train students in language proficiency. Out of
interest and curiosity, the students may appreciate the first class, second
class and maybe the third class too. But will they be able to appreciate its
value and procure knowledge from a recorded source? The student can feel the
essence of a new methodology but it is lost soon by constant usage. Eating a
vanilla ice-cream can evoke your taste buds. It will instigate your likeness in
the first scoop. The liking reduces after taking the second scoop. The third
scoop may result only in frozen reaction; i.e., the taste disappears but only
the “freeze” effect or numbness is left. Similarly, however effective, by
usage, the student develops an aversion. A negative instinct-a reverse
feedback! Technology, though an additive to teaching cannot be updated every
day. It would be a highly impossible task in real-life situation. Can a teacher
change the software to suit the needs of the learners? Instead, any teacher can
use techniques to change the teaching. It leads to an aspect where technology
can be termed as “tech-no-logic”. Technology can aid/supplement teaching
practice but it cannot be used as a methodology. Practically, technology in
learning/teaching maybe a kind of instant gratification but does not work out
effectively. Out of 10 students, maybe 50% of the students would find it to be
very interested but the rest 50% of the students would just consider it as a
“technique” without stressing on its usage or what has to be learnt from it.

Technology-assisted
Teaching Methodology has been initiated probably a decade ago. At the onset,
technology-assisted teaching and learning was well-appreciated. But in due course,
it started losing the vigor. Though new means and methods of softwares are
brought out, the “freshness” stays for a couple of times of usage. Later, it is
wiped out from the arena. Students do encourage this kind of
technology-something new “everytime” but slowly it turns mundane.

Let us take an
example of software used to train students in International Phonetic Alphabet.
The software has an introduction to the phonetics-vowel sounds, consonant
sounds, explanation of sounds in words, in sentences, explanation in rhymes,
phonetic scripts of words etc.,. When the student clicks on IPA; he/she may
find it new, fresh and something which draws attention. Slowly when the shift
in gear happens from one module to the other, the interest level falls. When
asked to complete the task given in the software, the student begins to drag
his purpose, develop headache, feel sleepy and eventually develop an aversion
towards the software.

In any
technological software, the lesson, modules, activities etc., are pre-recorded.
There cannot be any access for changes or different methodology that can be
handled. On the flip side, let us consider the teacher’s aspect in using
technology to assist their teaching practice. Teachers from down the ages had
been trained to “teach” and on the more, “educate”. Teachers did and do
encourage technology but all remains a “thrill” for a few days of practice.
Slowly, the energy level of the teacher falls down. There is a trip in the
practical qualities of the teacher. Power Point Presentation is one such
assisted methodology used globally. The PowerPoint Presentation gives space for
the teacher to save time writing on the board and explain further. The time
spent by the teacher in preparing a presentation can be utilized to refer to
more notes. Similarly, when the PowerPoint Presentation is switched on and when
the teacher speaks, there is a possibility for the students to concentrate on
what is displayed rather than listening to the teacher. In due course, the
teacher too feels a tiring activity to prepare slides and present them.

Software and other
options in technology-assisted learning/teaching are much appreciated globally.
But the effectiveness is the question! New techniques and methods have been
introduced by supplement and substitute language teaching. The recorded source
acts as a passive facilitator which can never boomerang the expected outcome. A
teacher can correct the student’s perspective and approach to a particular
study using the immediate examples and practices but this is highly impossible
in a recorded source. Earlier E-Content Teaching was a booming methodology.
When played, the students would enjoy the first sight. Can doubts be clarified?
Can an interaction take place? These aspects slowly pull down the effect. Video
Conferencing in higher education is applicable and practiced. But when
technical problems intervene, the effectiveness is lost.

Technology and
Language Learning sink in the world of Controversies. Teachers supporting
Technology and doubting the same! We use technology probably every new session
or module. Young minds seem to wander away from the practical essentialities. A
teacher speaking and technology assisting (teaching) the student can never be
on the same platform. A platform provided should boomerang with a positive
feedback. In short, Technology assisted teaching/ learning is like the worth of
a table fan in summer! A very essential factor, but a power shortage can leave
you in distress! Such is the perspective of learning and teaching through
technology.

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