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English teaching in the digital age

Alaul Alam, Guest Writer |
Update: 2022-03-24 19:57:03
English teaching in the digital age Alaul Alam

Since the introduction of English in the subcontinent pedagogical practices in English teaching have been shaped and reshaped. It is no denial that the approaches towards English teaching have come out of the conventional ones. Obviously, updated approaches are being introduced in teaching students English in the non-native countries where English is considered important next to their mother languages. 

Like most other countries Bangladesh considers English as the most influential foreign language. English as an academic subject has been compulsory from primary to higher secondary level of education. Even at tertiary education level English foundation courses have been compulsory for the undergraduate students. 

For almost two decades the country’s English teaching and learning has been experiencing communicative approach. Again in the name of communicative approach many teachers in different education levels are adopting traditional grammar translation approaches to teach their students. 

Debates are so pervasive that how far communicative approach has brought the expected outcome in English teaching and learning. Language specialists claim that as long as English is considered more as an academic subject than as achieving language skills, pragmatic outcomes in teaching English will hardly be achieved. 

In these days students and teachers are giving importance to good grades discarding the necessity of achieving English skills. Though student engagement in the classroom and student-centric pedagogical practices are being highly prioritized in the communicative teaching and learning approach, in many cases lecture-based language education is pervasive in the country. 

However, in the digital age there is no alternative to use digital tools in case of English teaching. English teaching and learning in the ICT integrated classroom is expected more outcome-based to the existing communicative teaching and learning approach. Studies show that the use of digital tools such as multimedia, laptop, speaker, mobile phones, etc. has brought positive outcomes in English teaching in many European and Asian countries in the digital age. 

Though some educational institutes in our country are prioritizing on the use of digital tools to maximize English learning outcomes at different education levels, in most cases English teaching at different education levels is still confined to conventional pedagogical practices. The causes may be many why students are facing digital divide in the classroom education despite they belong to the digital age. 

The most apparent causes may be that the language classrooms are not equipped with digital logistic supports that can help students to learn English more fruitfully. Again, teachers are not skilled enough to take their classes in the ICT integrated classroom. It is obvious that without electronic communicative competence teachers can hardly help the learners to develop their English skills in this digital age. 

This age demands that teachers must come out of their traditional role that they are the only source of knowledge for students, rather they have to be familiar with versatile digital platforms for both pedagogical and content resources. Certainly, the limited boundary of English teaching has widened up in the digital age. Digital tools are providing a great number of scopes for the teachers teaching English.

According to the linguist Dr. Stephen Krashan, the use of ICT in the language classroom helps to create a relaxed learning environment and reduces the affective filter of learners which ultimately maximizes language acquisition. Studies show that incorporating technologies in the classroom has manifold advantages. 

The use of digital tools increases motivation of the learners to promote autonomous learning. Students can play active role in the class being facilitated by their teachers and they do not depend on the teachers’ lectures all the time, rather they enjoy freedom while they are in the class equipped with technological devices. 

Not only that, digital tools help to develop creativity amid the learners as they make the learners engaged directly and so the system fosters critical thinking of the learners. For this, learners can enhance communication and foster research and cooperative learning in the class which contribute to boosting their overall performance. 

Many language experts claim that the use of digital devices not only makes language learning easy and comfortable but also accelerates both individual and collaborative learning. With the use of digital devices such as such as the use of blogs, podcasts and digital videos, google, Facebook teachers can easily draw the attention of the learners and spontaneously, students can achieve learning goals with pleasure.
The findings of different studies show that learners get the chance to interact more in the computer assisted language class than the teacher dominated one as they like to interact through email, text, audio and video conferencing. Besides, the use of speaker, earphone, CD, audio and video in the classroom makes them interactive and cooperative.

But one thing is very obvious that no effective outcomes in teaching English using digital devices can be attained unless there is a motivation amid teachers and students which plays a significant role like the panacea. Not only that, things may be more frustrating if the online resources are not used judiciously according to the age, interest and need of the students. Finally, it is no denial that enormous possibilities are there to teach students using digital tools. So, let’s unfold more possibilities in English teaching and learning using technologies.

Writer: Alaul Alam teaches at Prime University. He is also research scholar at the IBS. Email: [email protected]

BDST: 1956 HRS, MAR 24, 2022

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