For all of us who are actively involved in project implementation assisted by the use of technology, there is a recurring question:
How many of these apps promoted as the next absolutely necessary big thing in education and language learning, actually deliver what they promise?
After a good number of years of action, isn’t it time to reflect?
Scott Thornbury addresses this issue and discusses 14 Criteria with reference to second language acquisition (SLA) for assessing the value and effectiveness of different technologies. These criteria relate to the preconditions of language learning, such as comprehensible input, output, practice, interaction, feedback & correction, guidance and scaffolding, affect and motivation.
Scott touches a topic that is usually neglected due to the enthusiasm for whatever new and ‘innovative’. There is an abundance of popular apps that claim that they are effective. However, if we weigh them against these criteria, it turns out “it is not plausible that they actually cause language learning”.
Fun is a whole new chapter when it comes to learner motivation while using technology. More often than not it provides the reason why we choose and use a web tool. Scott wonders and, I believe, we all do: Is fun enough??
Research findings confirm our suspicions. Fun is not necessarily effective and what is effective is not always fun. Therefore we cannot make choices solely based on this criterion.
Ultimately one single technology or tool can never meet all these language learning criteria. One the contrary, good teachers do every single one and can be assisted by technology.
Classroom learning is not compensating for technology but the other way around. And that’s where blended learning and the flipped classroom have actually a lot to offer..