EUROCALL 2014

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Five Fundamental Websites for the Foreign Language Teacher

The technology of recent times has shaped the students that we teach. Learners of today seem to be surrounded by, and constantly immersed in technology. Tapscott refers to the young of today as the `Net Generation’ (1999). Prensky claims that today`s students are no longer the people our educational system was designed to teach, (2001) and that ‘Digital Natives’ learn in ways that were never previously possible (2010). Instant access to information, in the form of high speed internet, Wi-Fi and more recently the introduction of smart-phone technology means that information and learning through such sources is more viable now than ever before. Such developments in technology can be seen to have considerable implications for education, in relation to the growing need to prepare young people for a life saturated by technology and rapid change.

Current literature implies that the continuous onset of technology can be beneficial to students no matter the subject matter. However, there is a gap in the research involving the use and positive effects that technology can have in the foreign language classroom. Integrating elements of technology into any foreign language based syllabus can enhance the learning experience by making learning more autonomous and perhaps more importantly, enjoyable for all involved.

Everybody knows the value of the Internet in learning a foreign language. Current translating and voice recognition tools have advanced so much since their initial introduction that it is now quite difficult to tell if a student has actually written their own piece of homework themselves. This presentation will introduce 5 essential websites that every foreign language teacher in this worldwide digital age should be using. Each website encourages autonomous learning and perhaps most importantly, allows students to learn collaboratively without relying on translation software. Every website introduced today incorporates elements of voice recognition, text to speech dictation, online flashcards, interactive dictionaries, collaborative learning through wikis and mobile technology. All five websites, which are completely free, will be explained in detail with demonstrations given on their simple user-friendly interface.

Author(s):

Bruce Lander    
Foreign Language Institute
Kurume University
Japan

Bruce Lander, an English instructor at Kurume University, Fukuoka Japan has been teaching at the university level for 10 years and in Japan for 15. His main philosophy of teaching runs on the premise that teachers should not teach knowledge and facts, rather they should simply teach how to learn. Bruce’s main area of interest is the development of Learner Autonomy through blended learning.

 

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