English Language Teaching (ELT) has without a doubt, gone through various changes throughout the years. The days of simple text books is a thing of the past, as “Information and Communications Technology” (ICT) has been fully integrated into the learning process. One would wonder, how did we get here and how effective this new way of learning English truly is.
ELT, as well as any form of education, heavily relied on Rote Learning. Repetition and meaningless absorption of information was the most common approach taken when studying to learn a foreign language. However, memory retention proved detrimental in this educational approach and in many cases, counterproductive. Memorizing hundreds of words meant nothing if the speaker couldn’t use them properly in a sentence.
Thus, new methods of teaching were required in order to motivate students, as well as properly educate them in the use of the language taught. One would say that class interaction used to be limited; a scholar would “provide information” and in many cases evaluate the students’ capacity to retain it. Expression of ideas or constructive development of knowledge gained, was never encouraged, nor was it even considered.
As we now all know, being an active member of one’s class is not only applauded, but is considered a necessity. Communication, Creativity and Critical Thinking are the keys not only to mastering a language, but to our own personal development as individuals. Freedom of expressing oneself in class is an essential component of learning, as it inspires students to surpass their own limits and strive to reach new heights both on an educational as well as a personal level.
Many a time, the freedom given to them by their scholars, would inspire them to not only question what they are being taught, but also conduct research for more information than the one offered in class. Personal electronic devices take the role of encyclopedias or dictionaries, and educational media content provides the extra stimulus they need to delve even deeper into the lessons taught. ICT, if properly supported by both scholars and schools, could make learning a pleasant and definitely inspiring experience which would motivate young learners to outshine their own performance not only in class, but in their personal everyday activities as well.
In this wonderful age of technology and information, one would be at fault to turn a blind eye to the tools this modern era provides us with. It is up to the teacher to properly take advantage of them and to further motivate his students to not only excel at their studies, but to flourish as individuals of an ever-developing society.
by Katherine Reilly