As institutions continue to supplement traditional classroom language instruction with technology solutions, interactions between language instructors and students — both in and out of the classroom — are evolving.
The debate over the role technology should play in the classroom is not limited to STEM fields. Indeed, the benefit of incorporating technology into the language classroom is a highly debated topic. However, when implemented successfully, technology can allow language instructors to devote more class time to engaging social exercises that allow students to utilize the language learned and offering one-on-one assistance to students.
Since a typical language course is made up of students with diverse learning styles and backgrounds, the use of technology can help overcome cultural or personal preferences that may stand in the way of a student’s success. A student embarrassed to speak a new language in front of classmates can feel empowered when given the opportunity to practice her pronunciation and speaking skills in a safe, friendly learning environment offered by some online language solutions. Even an option as simple as being able to ask a professor a question via email can help a student who struggles to raise his hand in class. Without this opportunity to communicate in a way that is more comfortable, the student may never ask the question at all.
The option to communicate with students outside of regular classroom times can be beneficial for the instructor as well. By participating in online activities or answering questions electronically at their convenience, instructors can offer an additional line of communication to students and manage their work at a time and place that fits into their schedules.
Back-end reporting tools available with advanced online language solutions also give instructors a snapshot of what online assignments and activities individual students have undertaken, as well as how well they understand specific lessons and concepts. This kind of “early warning system,” which supplements the other indicators of student learning such as tests and classroom participation, allows instructors to identify topics or areas that may need more attention in class. With this knowledge, instructors can personalize their lesson plans to offer additional, targeted instruction on topics with which students are struggling, and move more quickly through those subjects that students easily understand, spending valuable class time more effectively. Rosetta Stone recently published a white paper with the Community College Journal on how US community colleges are using technology to improve language instruction, and one of the themes throughout highlights how the solutions employed improved the quality of interaction between faculty and students.
How are you using technology in your language programs? Do you think that technology can help improve the faculty-student relationship?