A Second Language Acquisition As A Powerful Tool Of Enhancing Could Computers and the Internet REALLY Replace TESOL English Teachers?

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Could Computers and the Internet REALLY Replace TESOL English Teachers?

Controversial Question

A question I am often asked at ELT English seminars, workshops and TESOL conferences is, do I think computers will replace English teachers? I’m going back to the movie “Matrix”. In the first scene, our neophyte hero “Neo” learns kung fu by connecting to a computer. A few hours later, he opens his eyes, sits up, and says, “I know Kung Fu!” The following scenes depict how an older, more experienced mentor (aka teacher) watches young Neo, assessing his “skills”. “Show me,” the teacher typically asks. If you’ve been following along with me so far, you already have a clue about my answer to this teachers question.

Are computers replacing the human English teacher?

are you kidding

– No, Jose.

But English teachers, don’t relax just yet. I think what we need to do is to “reinvent” part of the concept of “school”. That’s what I mean.

Reinventing the School Concept

Schools, at almost any level, need to connect virtually and interactively with a wide range of external resources. This means that the “traditional” whiteboard, markers, and OHP will have to give way to additional, integrated resources that extend the classroom environment almost indefinitely. I mean works; audio, video, internet, webcams, IM, TXTing, chat, email, RSS, even real-time multimedia inputs. The class and its students will be linked to additional resources such as:

• Corporations

• Libraries

• Museums

• Government facilities

• Science, technology and medical centers

• Industry

• Laboratories

• Other educational institutions

In this way, students would make more use of learning activities such as webquests, interactive dynamics and virtual tours to expand and deepen their knowledge of principles and concepts. Students will no longer be limited to the knowledge, resources and opportunities available at the institution where they attend classes. Instead, the world is literally their classroom.

Impact on Learning

How will this directly affect learning? Well, if you’re learning computers, wouldn’t direct access and training to Microsoft Corp materials be a real boon? Tech students will certainly be interested in MIT (http://web.mit.edu/), Cal Tech (http://www.caltech.edu/), or Lucent Corp. (http://www) will benefit greatly from direct links. .lucent.com/) Engineering students will have online access to NASA: (http://www.nasa.gov/home/index.html), Boeing (http://www.boeing.com/), Westinghouse (http://www.westinghouse.com/home.html), Dupont (http://www2.dupont.com/DuPont_Home/en_US/index.html) or a number of other high-tech corporations.

Law, Government, Human Rights and Political Science students can access Federal, State and local government databases or by connecting to the FBI (http://www.fbi.gov/), London Metropolitan Police (http://www.fbi.gov/) they will be at the top of their game. http://www.met.police.uk/), the CIA (http://www.cia.gov/) and the ATF ([http://www.atf.treas.gov/] ) database accompanying local, regional and national resources. Health professionals can be updated with real-time events related to Pathology, Epidemic studies, disaster response resource information, and public health threats through the CDC (http://www.cdc.gov/), medical and health networks, or the UN. (http://www.un.org/). The possibilities are almost endless.

Thus, I agree that “traditional” approaches to teaching and learning, not just English and other foreign languages, but many other areas will continue to evolve to serve the needs of learners, business and educational institutions. Armed with CBL (Content-Based Learning) knowledge, skills and ever-evolving technology, well-trained TEFL English teachers have nothing to fear from the computer. Technology is another powerful tool that promotes the acquisition of new knowledge and skills, both now and in the future.

What do you think?

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