Wednesday, September 22, 2010

In-Class Task 8: PODCAST

TITLE: This could happen to you!

a toilet

Click Here to listen to the podcast~!

The Dialog:

I was barely sitting down on the toilet when I heard a voice from the other stall saying:
"Hi, how are you?"

I'm not the type to start a conversation in the restroom. I don't know what got into me, but I answered, somewhat embarrassed,
"Doin' just fine!"

And the other person says:
"So what are you up to?"

What kind of question is that? At that point, I'm thinking this is too bizarre so I say:
"Uhhh, I'm like you, just sitting here."

At this point I am just trying to get out as fast as I can when I hear another question:
"Can I come over?"

Ok, this question is just too weird for me. I figured I could politely end the conversation. I say:
"No........I'm a little busy right now!!!"

Then I hear the person say, nervously:
"Listen, I'll have to call you back. There's an idiot in the other stall who keeps answering all my questions!!"

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Task 3: WWW Lesson Plan



"KNOW YOU MAPS"

LESSON PLAN


Form: Four
Level: Advanced
Time: 70 minutes (2 periods)
Theme: Places
Topic: Know Your Maps
Language Concerned: Grammar - Prepositions of Directions

General Objectives: By the end of the lesson, students should be able to have the ample understanding of prepositions of directions and the use of maps by using Google Maps.

Learning Outcomes:
Students should be able to:
1) know how to use a map using the Google Maps
2) transfer the given information into effectively and efficiently
3) look for information using internet browsers and search engines

Moral Values:
1)Cooperation: Students should give full cooperate in a group activity with other members.
2)Rationality: Students will be more rational in making decisions throughout the group project.

Educational Emphasis:
1) ICT Skills
2) Thinking Skills,
3) Multiple Intelligences
4) Creative and Critical Thinking Skills

Technological Prerequisites:
1) A computer room filled with fully functioning personal computers (maybe shared among 2 - 3 students per computer)
2) Microsoft Office 2003/2007
3) Internet Accessibility
3) Web browsers : Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox

Preparation:
1)Using the internet browsers, browse
-pictures of the planet Earth and Google Maps webpage
-some interesting websites of interesting places in the world
-a video on using the Google Maps
2)provide several marker pens and mahjong papers
2)prepare a worksheet to recap the previous lesson
4)Amolife(http://amolife.com/great-places/10-interesting-places-to-visit-before-you-die.html)

Previous Knowledge:
Students have learned the rules and the examples of prepositions of directions.

Teaching Procedure:
Set Induction
(5 minutes)
1) Teacher shows students a picture of the Earth on a white board screen using the electronic projector

2) Teacher asks a few questions about the planet Earth to some students:
-When you see the picture, what are the things that you could find on the planet Earth?

-Where are the places on Earth you would like to pay a visit?

-If you want to go to any places on Earth, what should we have or do?
3)Teacher provides concise descriptions the use of a map and its significances to people generally.


Preface
(10 minutes)
1) Teacher asks students if they be familiar with or have encountered with other alternatives of technologies which provide the use of maps other than the traditional maps that printed on papers.
2) Teacher tells students to search the alternative gadgets using the internet browsers and write them down in their book with at least 3 gadgets with their descriptions in one sentence.

Examples (for teacher's use):


GPS

Navigator

Smart Phones

3) Teacher responds the students’ answers and discuses explicitly
4) Teacher introduces students with the topic of the lesson:
“Know Your Maps”

Development

Activity 1
(20 minutes)

1) Teacher shows a video on Youtube on "Google Maps Introduction".

2) Teacher asks students to open up the Google Maps (GM) webpage using any internet browsers available and teaches them how to use it explicitly.


3) Teacher comes up with several places e.g. the school, shopping malls or interesting places in Malaysia and inquires students to search for the maps of the selected places using the GM.
4) Teacher facilitates students’ work and provides aids if needed.
5) Teacher asks for students opinions of using GM and discuss about it.


Activity 2
(30 minutes)
1) Teacher recaps the previous lesson on prepositions of directions with students by giving a worksheet and asks them to complete it in 3-5 minutes, and later discusses the answers with students.


2) Teacher asks directs students into 6 groups which consist of 5 members per group.
3) Teacher provides instructions to the 1st activity:

-The group’s leader is needed to pick an exciting place at the nearby district that teacher has decided.
-Using GM, search for the maps of the selected places and the routes used.
-After found the ‘right’ map, each group has to come up with a direction based on the maps using the words of prepositions.
-Later, one representative of each group has to come in front and read the concocted direction.
-Other groups have to draw a map out of the directions that have been read in a piece of mahjong paper that teacher has provided.
-Each group later will show their maps in front of the classroom and the winning group will be determined based on the details and the precise of map based on the directions given from each group.

-Teacher will provide examples of direction and a mock-up map for better understanding.

Example:

The Map from GM



The Directions based on the Map

The Outcome from the Directions


Conclusion

(5 minutes)
1)Teacher recaps what has been learned during the lesson with students.
2)Teacher asks students some questions based on the topic in order to assess their understanding.
2) Teacher implicitly discusses the moral values they learn on the lesson.


Follow-up Activity:
Students are required to draw a map of streets from their houses to the school. The maps can be either as precise as Google Maps’ like; with the use of Google Maps itself or as creative as they could. Along with the maps, students are required to identify at least 2 routes from the map and choose only 1 route with the shortest and most interesting path to the school with the reasons why they chose the path. The descriptions can be either in point-form or an essay-form of one (1) paragraph. The work should be submitted by hand the following week.

Example of map:

OR

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Task 2: Article Review

Title: Corpora Processing and Computational Scaffolding for a Web-based English Learning Environment (Link: Here@Here)

Journal: CALICO Journal, Vay66gf4rzsol. 24, No. 1. 2006

Authors’ Names: HSIEN-CHIN LIOU, JASON S. CHANG (National Tsing Hua University, Hsinchu, Taiwan)

HAO-JAN CHEN, CHIH-CHENG LIN (National Taiwan Normal

University, Taipei, Taiwan)

MEEI-LING LIAW (National Taichung University, Taichung, Taiwan)

ZHAO-MING GAO (National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan)

JYH-SHING ROGER JANG, YULI YEH (National Tsing Hua University, Hsinchu, Taiwan)

THOMAS C. CHUANG (Vanung University, Taoyuan, Taiwan)

GEENG-NENG YOU (National Taichung Institute of Technology, Taichung, Taiwan)

Designation: The CANDLE Project

Background: This paper describes the development of an innovative web-based environment for English language learning with advanced data-driven and statistical approaches. The project uses various corpora, including a Chinese-English parallel corpus (Sinorama) and various natural language processing (NLP) tools to construct effective English learning tasks for college learners with adaptive computational scaffolding. It integrates the expertise of a group of researchers in four areas: (a) advances in NLP technologies and applications, (b) construction of a self-access reading environment, (c) exploration of English language learning through written exercises and translations, and (d) use of bilingual corpora for culture-based English learning. In this paper, the conceptualization of the system and its various reference tools (e.g., a bilingual concordancer) for English learning and pilot testing on various modules (e.g., a reading module, Text Grader, and Collocation Practice) are reported.

Keywords: Bilingual Concordancer, Chinese-English Parallel Corpora, Computational Scaffolding, Natural Language Processing

Summary of the Research

The Aims

This is a 3-year project with the use of natural language processing (NLP) and corpus for digital learning of English (CANDLE). A number of researchers from computer science, particularly in NLP and CALL have been working together with the aim of using cutting edge corpora processing and NLP tools to advance English learning for students in Taiwan. As this research as it speaks itself, is unique domestically and internationally because of its application on a Chinese-English corresponding corpus and builds on learners’ first language background knowledge to authorize learners with culture-based materials. While learning English as the new language, the learners’ first language and their culture perspectives will provide a scaffold in order to learning the new language. This research examines the enlargement of the CANDLE project and its four subprojects.

The Methodology

Before we are going further into the methodology(s) of this research, the goals of the CANDLE project are twofold: (a) construction of a web-based English learning environment that is practical for intermediate learners (e.g., college freshman students and senior high students) in Taiwan and (b) evaluation of the use of the CANDLE system in classrooms by investigating learners’ use of strategies. To achieve these two goals, four subprojects have been conducted: the first subproject consists of developing advanced NLP tools and is followed by three subprojects on online English language-learning activities which focus on aspects of reading, writing, and culture:

  • I. The first subproject provides the infrastructure of the web-based system (see http://candle.cs.nthu.edu.tw, http://candle.fl.nthu.edu.tw), that is, basic and advanced NLP tools necessary for the other three subprojects, and tracking mechanisms to monitor online learner progress. The tools comprise articles from the Sinorama magazine which includes a wide range and insightful topics and reports.
  • II. Subproject two focuses on the construction and assessment of a self-access reading environment that is adaptive to learners’ levels of English proficiency. Feedback on the instructional effectiveness of the reading module was obtained from 150 students plus some instructors after they used the module in a questionnaire.
  • III. Subproject three develops the potential of using writing or translation activities to help students learn English. Students were asked to refer to one of the NLP tools for word usage while writing their first drafts and later for error correction as they revised their drafts. On average, researchers marked two to three errors of misused verbs, nouns, or adjectives on each draft. Additionally, a background questionnaire and an evaluation questionnaire were used to elicit participants’ data and perceptions about the effectiveness of the practice module.
  • IV. Subproject four uses a bilingual corpus to enhance English culture learning, an area that has not yet been fully explored. Formative assessment of the culture component is being undertaken by collecting the students’ reading comprehension test scores, vocabulary quiz scores, and the quality of their writing. In addition, the students’ vocabulary notebooks will be analyzed and put into categories of (a) dictionary query for reading comprehension, (b) dictionary query for writing assistance, (c) concordance query for reading comprehension, or (d) concordance query for writing assistance.

All of these subprojects have implications for innovative digital learning, NLP (computer engineering), and English teaching and learning.

The Subject/Sample

Each subproject is conducted differently and solely from one another. However, the subject/sample of the research is similar with one another because the first subproject produces required digital and content-related advanced technologies for the other three subprojects to conduct research on e-learning strategies and behaviours essential to prove the usefulness of such advanced English e-learning. The samples are conducted within the college students around the Taiwanese universities due to the various researchers to demeanour the research.

The summary of the sampling of each project:

  • NLP and Assessment Tools: University students, in general.
  • The Reading Module: 150 university students answering questionnaire
  • The Writing Component: 32 first-year university students majoring in English
  • The Culture Component: University students, in general.

The findings of the research

This research is described as an initial part of a web-based English learning project which is the CANDLE project. For the first research project; the NLP and Assessment Tools, it is developed with three tools which are:

  • · “TOTALrecall” involves bilingual sentence, word, and phrase alignment and meets learners’ needs by supporting sophisticated queries and displaying ranked outputs from a variety of topics taken from the Sinorama magazine (an official monthly publication that has been provided by the Government Information Office of the Republic of China)
  • · “Tango” which allows learners to access English collocations (of a certain types such as verb-noun or adjective-noun) and bilingual examples of these collocations from Sinorama.
  • · “The Collocation Checker” utilizes NLP techniques to chunk sentences in order to extract V-N collocations in input texts and to derive a list of candidate English verbs that share the same Chinese translations via the processing of bilingual corpora.

The tools are used consecutively to build computational scaffolding for the students before they engage into the other three projects; reading, writing, and cultural learning activities that make full use of corpus processing. The second research project; The Reading Module, the participants found the module very useful for improving their reading abilities. In particular, they liked the click and show dictionaries because it helped them read without having to spend extra time on consulting word meanings in a paper dictionary. Some also found the comprehension questions to be useful since they could check if they understood the texts. In addition, the pronunciation in the audio file of the text was extremely clear. However, students also indicated that improvements could be made in text selection, difficulty level of the vocabulary quizzes, help with sentence structures, and varieties of post-reading exercises. The third research project; The Writing Component has found that the effectiveness of the practice module with significant learner improvement from the pre-test to the post- test. The fourth and last research project; The Culture Component is examined for the reasons students made from previous test scores and the quality of their writing into cultural and non-cultural reasons. The students’ viewpoints expressed in the written responses to Sinorama readings will be analyzed for cultural awareness. The focus of the analysis is to compare the social customs in the Chinese and Western cultures.

Reaction

Does the research interest you?

Just by glancing to the title of the research, it does intrigue me to be acquainted with it. I think this research puts two essential elements of learning which are ‘scaffolding’ and Web-based language learning under one scrupulous topic to be looked on deeply. Learning itself is one important fundamental of gaining knowledge, but with the advancement of technology nowadays, educational practitioners should put a lot of considerations in order to make the learning process consequential and meaningful for learners and one of them is ‘scaffolding’. Therefore, after I gained this research as my article to be reviewed, I did not look back for other researches because it had interest me enough and for me to evaluate and assess in more profound understanding.

Do you think the research well conducted?

For me, I do not have to think either this research is well conducted or poorly carried out in order to meet the objectives of the research. It is clearly shown that it has been accomplished with a lot of afford. This research has been conducted for about 3-year period of time with a wide range of sills has been put into consideration for a web-based English learning environment. It comes up with four subprojects for learners to participate and be evaluated sequentially to offer learners with rigorous exposure to specific, repeated patterns of language structure with the encroachment of technology. Second language learners are not theoretical to straight away learn the language by simply focusing on it, but they gradually incorporate the language over time by continuing to notice the rudiments of the language that they come across. That is what this research is all about which it tries to put the scaffolding strategy into the consideration of learning by using a web-based learning milieu.

What is/are the implication(s) of the research in the teaching and learning of ESL (in the general and Malaysian contexts)?

Before we going any further into the implications of the research, let start with ‘Scaffolding’. Scaffolding instruction as a teaching approach derives from Lev Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory and the zone of proximal development (ZPD) concept which he founds himself. According to Raymond 2000, ZPD is the distance between what children are capable of within themselves and the next learning that they can be helped to achieve with competent assistance (p.176). The scaffolding teaching strategy provides individualized support based on the learner’s ZPD (Chang, Sung, & Chen, 2002). The scaffolds assist a student’s ability and aptitude to construct on prior knowledge and internalize new information. The activities provided in scaffolding instruction are just beyond the level of what the learner can do alone (Olson & Pratt, 2000).

Now, based on the research done and the 4 subprojects that have been carried out in order to see the outcomes of the objectives of the CANDLE project, let me summarize each project into four points of my personal views and the implications of the projects:

  • · From the first project, learners are expected to read extensively in order to enhance reading abilities, vocabulary development and useful for developing reading competence. Same goes with any other learners who are learning a second language, especially in Malaysian context, not all learners would feel participated and encouraged with the approach. Some students might not enjoy reading on computers due to the lack of exposure to the technology perhaps. Thus, teachers are advisable need to constantly encourage students to read more. For example, printed copies from various ranges of topics and sites might help some students read more.
  • · For the second project, learners are expected to learn vocabulary while doing extensive reading, yet learners might have improved and seen the progress of their vocabulary but they tend to use intensive ways to tackle an extensive reading task. Therefore, for the unskilled learners in extensive reading, the combination of both intensive and extensive reading is suggested. For learners who happen to expose themselves with a language which is not their native language, an intensive approach itself might be burden for them to encounter. So, with the combination of both intensive and extensive, they would find options are in their hands but with proper guidance.
  • · For the third project, learners are expected to learn underused verbs, nouns, and adjectives through induction of the text. There are two outcomes for this approach: the pre-test which covers the drafts of the writing process and also the pro-test which is the actual writing of a particular topic or subject. However, learners might make some significant improvements in the post-test but still they need more time and exposure to use the learned words in their writing. They need more time and practice for using the learned words in actual writing tasks.
  • · For the last project, learners are expected to appreciate other cultures from exploring home culture from the Sinorama articles. By this approach, learners might find the studies of their home customs and traditions not only improve their English abilities but also enlarge their minds to recognize others’ cultures. Teachers should enclose learners with a greater attention. It needs to be paid to students’ topics of discovery, and a comparison/contrast is suggested between students’ home culture and the target culture.

These cases exemplify how teachers can foster their professional development in using CALL to enhance English teaching and there is always a room for improvement. One of them maybe is by the help of the CANDLE project in order to improve the teaching and learning process in classroom. I think our Malaysian educational policy can apply the findings of this project into our own educational context. To be blunt, our educational status is quite ‘behind’ compared even in the university level to other Asian countries such as Japan, Korea and Singapore. We are still maybe 70-80% using the traditional teaching and learning approach but we are improving from time to time. Therefore, I think this research should not be considered as inappropriate and ineffective because we want to improve our educational system of our own.

In my opinion, our English teachers can implement the instructional design from the ‘CANDLE’ project which involves of blending both classroom teaching strategies and the ‘CANDLE’ teaching into their own classroom lessons if the frameworks are parallel with those presented in the research. The detailed description of the pedagogical processes can offer righteous procedures for teachers to consider when their frameworks are different from the cases, or using other online materials. Any teaching practice, especially English teaching is a process of decision-making and adaptation based on each teacher’s philosophy and local context. Therefore, each teacher has their own approach in planning and giving the lessons regarding to their beliefs and considerations of their students’ capabilities.

Without a doubt, most learners are already possessed ample electronic literacy in their life, directly or indirectly and the technology implementation in the classroom with English curriculum concoction is a process that needs a long period of time to be succeeded. It also necessitates a display of several fundamentals and requirements to have a successful outcome. But still, are we ready to answer the question, “Are our teachers ready to incorporate technology into their teaching?” So, with this kind of research, it is actually a starter for the educators to have an overview or a pre-idea of what they should and could accomplish before the implementation of a web-based English learning. I think, with supplementary in-class CALL activities are needed and encouraged rather than self-access activities because this option can present access for individuals who do not have the opportunity at home.

Truth to be told, our teachers especially the English teachers are not completely ready because the technology itself is indeed advanced for them to apply or they are unsure how technology can meet the pedagogical objectives. Hence, hopefully, this research could provide some thoughts, ideas or, possibly, guidelines for infusing the web-based teaching and learning strategies into the English lessons.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

HotPOTATOES Worksheet : In-Class Task 5


Title: Little Red Riding Hood

There are two different sets with the same topic.
Click LRRH Set 1 (for the first set) and LRRH Set 2 to download
the worksheets.


References:

Friday, July 30, 2010

Task 1: ESL Website Evaluation: ManyThings.org

About the Website:
The respective website which I reviewed is the ManyThings.org

In order to augment your language skills, it depends on how well you inspire and motivate yourself to seek for the knowledge. One very good way to start is to engage you in ESL websites like ManyThings.org. ManyThings.org is a website which is concocted for people who are studying English as a Second Language (ESL) or English as a Foreign Language(EFL). Although the main idea of designing the website is for ESL learners, the native speakers may also hit upon this website which puts forward interesting things about English language learning.
Like others, I have come across and searched many different kinds of websites before I came onto this divine site. The reason why I chose this website instead of any other websites on the internet, due to the simplicity(not the beauty product) and the topic range that the website is covering.

Here are videos that I found on Youtube that constraint on the website and provide explicit "explanation" about ManyThings.org



Question No. 1: What does the application attempt to “teach”?

When we talk about the word ‘teach’, we would think about a classroom filled with students and a person standing in front of the room with a chalk or a marker pen along a board pasted on the wall which we called Teacher. However, in Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL), the situation has changed to people at any places around the world occupied with a computer as the ‘machine’ does the part as the Teacher. On the Internet, there are sites which emphasize reading when it comes to learn a foreign language, others try speaking it. Some focus on the language grammar while others do not. Some entail a very precise comprehension of words, and others consent rather free translation from the mother tongue language to the concerned language. However, there are students get very unenthusiastic in learning English as a second or a foreign language and would say they have no aptitude or ability for it. To say something like that, of course the aptitudes to study a certain language like English differ from individual to individual and also for the other subjects in school and probably is due to life habits, techniques of study, and background information.

The website focuses or tries to “teach” all the language skills (reading skill, listening skill and speaking skill), the English vocabulary, the grammar rules and also the other parts which concern with English. The website offers a spacious scope of English language begins with the simplest knowledge till the complex English structures to improve their English language skills and knowledge with an assortment of tasks and activities such as quizzes, word games, word puzzles, proverbs, slang expressions, scrambled sentences and other computer assisted language learning activities. The learners are also exposed with native-formed of learning in order to expose them with the authenticity of the English language. Before a learner explores the website, it serves with the introductory column (First Time Visitors column) which the learner will eventually ‘play and learn’ with much multifaceted games according to the level of the learner.
The range of topics and skills of the website covers many and various kind of aspects, topics and skills of a language from the very basic subject matters of life such as animals and health to intricate topics such as science, reading skills, listening and speaking skills and also writing skills. For the vocabulary section, it focuses on ‘Vocabulary Lists with Games and Puzzles’, ‘Crossword Puzzles’, ‘Matching Quizzes’, ‘Games with Pictures’, and ‘Word Based Games’. For speaking section, it covers on Pronunciation, Listen & Repeat, and Daily Listen & Repeat which is updated every day in order to improve the learners’ intonation, rhythm and pronunciation with the current topics. In the grammar and vocabulary section, it presents Quizzes Based on VOA's (Voice of America) Special English Programs where the learners quiz themselves on English grammar and vocabulary while reading scripts from VOA Special English materials, Flash Quizzes and Super Quiz Machine in a form of MCQ questions with immediate respond of answers and responses.
The listening and reading section lists Listen & Read Along, American Stories, About Places, Stories about People (Biographies), American History, Words and Their Stories, Studying in the USA and more VOA Special English and ESL Videos which are updated every day.




Here are examples of screenshots of each section from the website




The materials used by the website are audio files in mp3 format and also videos that have been uploaded on YouTube site. The audio materials come in song forms which are melodious, interactive, authentic and easy to comprehend. The materials teach the learners on the reading skills which the speakers of the audios speak with appropriate intonation and easy to understand. For the videos materials, they are interesting and fun to watch. Although some of them focus on jokes and funny subject matters, they do apply on teaching the learners and not just for pleasure activities.
The activities of the website begin with easy stage, and continue with medium stage till difficult stage. However, not all activities have that kind of arrangements but as learners go further accordingly through the site, it does start with the easily topics to the difficult ones according to the proficiency levels of the learners: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Most of the games on the site are provided with brief instructions that instruct the users how to play the games the proper ways for better understanding and results and also to meet the objectives of the games.

Question No. 2: What sorts of things is the application users expected to do with regards learning the content?

There are few things that the learners are expected to do before engaging with the activities regarding to the content. There is a section concocted solely for the first time visitors. The learners can start connecting with the website by clicking on “Easy Things for Beginners” and also read the website description for better views on what the site offers to its visitors. The description of the website is made with a simple brief explanation that the users will get a crystal clear view about the site. Moreover, this website can be assessed freely without any registration required and payment of fees. So, all people despite the gender, age, race, background etc can be participated with all the fun games, materials and activities without worrying they have to long in or could be charged for entering the site. Moreover, the website is a simple designed site for the users to participate with the applications. It does not apply any kind of fanciness on its exterior design so that the users could explore without getting confused with the complicated appearance.


There is also a textbook which is provided not only for the learners but also the teachers. However, the textbook is just made for the Japanese learners who learn English and only provided and sold in Japan. I could not find any reason why it’s only available only for the Japanese learners but I think the Japanese people take a responsibility to come out with a textbook contained with mp3 files and also supplementary materials for lessons. Therefore, for the other learners, it is not compulsory to having the textbook in order to ‘play and learn’ on the website.
To be participated in any kind of computer assisted learning, the learners themselves should know their interest and ability. The website presents with lots of options on the topics which could broaden the learners learning skills for utmost results. Moreover, the learners could ‘try and error’ and determine their own proficiency level for each task the want to participate with. So, the learners will not be stuck with in one particular level like in the classroom with mix abilities students. They could just skip at any level they think is not appropriate for them anymore and just proceed with more challenging exercises. The learners can also demote themselves at any skills that think they are competent enough and just focus on that particular ability. Consequently, with the authority that they have with self-learning, self-reliance and autonomy, the learners will have options and be more productive and critical in ‘trial and error’ learning. Moreover, with the immediate response of each activity the learners have engaged, they get to keep records with self-actualization on the progress in the skill area that they are focused onto. They would see with a clearer judgment on their improvement and also their strengths and weaknesses for the self-reflection.

Question No. 3: What sorts of computer skills is the application users expected to have in order to operate/access/use the application?

Based on the definition on the computer skills, it refers to one's ability to utilize the applications or the software of a computer programme. It also includes knowing how to switch on the computer, being able to use a mouse to interact with elements on the screen, being able to use the computer keyboard, and being able to close down the computer after use (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer_skills). Therefore, for the website, in order to operate/access/use the application, the learners are expected to have those abilities and basic computer skills at least. The website has provided with simple and apparent steps and instructions for better exploration and learning from the site. The learners or users are also expected to know how to download the materials for example the mp3 files. There are cases where the files might be corrupted or could be opened on the site, so by downloading the files, it would be safer and much more convenience if something erroneous happened. However, the learners’ computers should also be upgraded with the compatible players that suit to the files that they have downloaded so that there will be no cases where the downloaded files could not be opened due the unsupported players. There are a lot of media players on the markets that are actually free and the learners should be more updated with the latest software.

Furthermore, the learners should have the knowledge of surfing/browsing skills. It is not just dragging the mouse and clicking on the sections or aspects on the website. The learners are expected to choose the activities wisely with step by step usage of the applications based on the learners’ level of proficiency and also the topic offered. However, as I have mentioned before, the exterior design of the website is not so fancy and complex which could lead to confusion of the users. The website has a simple outlook and clear instructions. The activities or tasks on the website require idleness of the users. Most of the games are required the learners to click and type the answers which they have to do many clicking and typing. So, typing skill is also required for the learners to have while using the website.

Question No. 4: While you are “playing”/”accessing”/’assessing’ the application, does it remind you of anything you do in a classroom, or with a teacher, or with a fellow classmate, or in self-study?

This website offers different sorts of games and materials which actually quite similar with what teachers provide in classrooms. Crossword puzzles, quizzes and listening and speaking activities are parts of activities that teachers plan when they enter a classroom. However, there are also materials that teachers could not provide, for example, videos, generic computer games and also songs! Not all schools can supply laptops and even radios for the teachers to use in the classrooms. Therefore, I think the website has come up with ample and interesting materials for the learners to ‘play and learn’.
To answer the question above, the website does remind me with activities while I was in a classroom with my teachers and fellow classmates and also during my self-study. As I have said in my previous paragraph, the games and also the activities are quite similar with what I had done previously in the school life where my English teachers provided us with quizzes, puzzles and also the language skills activities where reading, listening, speaking and writing were involved. I still can remember where my teachers read to us with few English sentences and we had to reread according to or teachers’ enunciations. Same goes with the website activities where the founder of the site recorded words or sentences and expects the learners to reread the words over and over again till they think they could pronounce those words correctly. However, the best part of this website is, the recordings are made in songs form! I was amazed with the effort that the founders have put in order to make the learning process be more attractive, motivating and fun! Plus, the songs are still playing in my mind with their catchy melody. How cool is that? For the games and quizzes provided on the site, it does ring a bell when I had to finish my homework in that kind of forms. I had to complete puzzles, quizzes etc and we discussed the answers when we finished with the activities and same goes with this website. However, the puzzles and quizzes on this website are more interesting with the sound effects when you answer wrongly or correctly. When I played the games, I hated the “Tttttttteeeeeeeeeettttttttt!” sound every time it came out. This means my answer is wrong and I need to be more critical for the next questions.

This website has also provided with videos for interactive learning which I could connect with my experience when I learn English while I watched English programmes on the TV. Let me be blunt, almost 80 % of my English learning are based on what I have watch from the TV programmes. While I am watching the programmes, I use almost all my language skills which are reading (the subtitle), listening (to what the characters are saying), speaking (repeating the words) and also writing (for the pompous words and then I search for the meaning). Therefore, when this website does an approach by learning through videos, I think the founders have given a thought very thoroughly and taken many things in consideration to come out with such a thoughtful site.

Question No. 5: Can you pinpoint some theories of language learning and/or teaching underlying the application?

Look at the history of CALL itself, computers have been used and applied in language teaching ever since the 1960's according to Warschauer & Healey (1998). Along this period of using computers as part of teaching and learning process, CALL can be divided into three main stages: behaviourist CALL, communicative CALL, and integrative CALL where every stage has their own relation to a certain level of technology and pedagogical theories.
For the first stage, let us look at the Behaviourist CALL. Behaviourism theory articulates language learning as repetitive drills which can be called as drill-and-practice method. The website puts forward many drills and practices that the learners have to complete start from the easy level of tasks to the difficult ones. Form the vocabulary exercises till the language skills activities which require the learners to participate and engage with the games with explicit instructions and explanation on the topics covered. Moreover, for the speaking skills approach form the website, the learners have to try to imitate and repeat the language they hear form the audio files and are positively reinforced for doing so. Moreover, based on the Krashen’s ‘monitor model’ with language teaching methods based on behaviourism, the first hypothesis; ‘acquisition-learning hypothesis’ the learners are exposed to samples of the second language that acquire the same way that the learners pick up their first language through conscious attention to form and rule learning a language.

The second stage, based on the Communicative CALL or the Communicative language Teaching itself, the games and activities are designed to engine the learners in the pragmatic, authentic, functional use language for meaningful purposes. The website focuses on the aspects of language that enable the learners to accomplish those purposes and not just the organization language forms. The learners of the site will eventually and gradually have to use the language productively and receptively with the skills necessary for communication in those contexts. Moreover, based on the theory, it says that learners are given opportunities to focus on their own learning process through understanding of their own style of learning and through the development of appropriate strategies for autonomous learning.
The last stage which is the Integrative CALL, the website is integrated and designed with a whole language approach whereby reading is treated as one of the two or more interrelated skills. For example, based on the site, a task that deals with reading skills, hen will also deal with related listening, speaking and writing skills. The lessons of the website has also included the paradigm that consists of discussion of the topic to activate schemata, focus on reading skills and also writing strategies for enhanced wholly integrated learning.

Besides from all the theories above, the Lerner-Centred Instruction is one of the theories that can be found applied in the website. This theory is contrasted with teacher-centred. The learners have the power to choose the tasks based on their needs, styles of learning with different choices of activities and also goals of the activities. It also focuses on the enhancement of the learners’ sense of competence and self-worth. It gives a sense of “ownership” of their language learning and thereby adds to their intrinsic motivation.

Question No. 6: How well is the constructivist theory of learning applied to the chosen website(s)?

Let us start with the definition of the Constructivist Theory. The theoretical framework of this theory that had been suggested by Burner (1966) is that learning is an active process in which learners construct new ideas or concepts based upon their current/past knowledge. The learner selects and transforms information, constructs hypotheses, and makes decisions, relying on a cognitive structure to do so. When the learners ‘play’ with the activities on the website, they are exposed with games which are fun and may look wretched on language learning, however, indirectly the learners will experience knowledge beyond the information given from the site. The website also encourages learners to discover and expose with the principles of learning on their own as far as the instruction is concerned.

Nevertheless, the computer and learners are not engage in an active dialogue like the traditional approach between teacher and students in a classroom. The computer takes role as the teacher and translates information to be learned in a format with appropriate outcome in order for the learners to learn with better comprehension and to the learners’ current state of understanding. The curriculum of the website is organized in a spiral manner so that the learner will continually build upon what they have already learned.

Question No. 7: In 1980s and early 1990s, there was a major debate on ‘whether the computer was “master” of or “slave” to the learning process (Higgins and Johns, 1984). In relation to your evaluation – was the computer a replacement for teachers, or merely an obedient servant to students?

This is one difficult question to actually come up with an answer. Even the first time I come across with this subject, the thought of computers might replace teachers some how has pooped out into my mind. We can not deny the fact that technology is getting grater and more powerful each day to ease humans in any possible ways. Some ways and some how, we might be able to develop artificial intelligence which one of the examples is a robot teacher or a machine that can provide us with knowledge from home without going to school. So, do you think children would benefit more compare to school? It is really helpful for teachers and also students to have the use of computers in the classroom. However, I really believe that teachers play major role in the teaching and learning process compare to an unemotional machine with less guidance and more self- learning. Students are also should not too rely on computers for the growth and human development. We are living as a society with other people. If they too highly rely on the computer to learn, they would end up as machines without feelings and less human-like behaviour and more machine-like deeds. Although it is a good thing for students to learn by experiences and self-centred, but there are things that a teacher can do and a computer cannot.

A teacher can guide and instruct students in terms of non-verbal gestures, decision making and also teaches them with technical objects like a computer itself. A computer cannot teach others how to operate itself without guidance from other human beings. Plus, I could not agree more with the reality that the modern generation is now studying mainly with the use of computer, but here is a question that we should take into account when it come to this matter: Is there any interpersonal communication involved between a person and a computer? Computer help us make our life easier; from the basic thing such as save our important files or documents, speed up our work till provide us with information that we are looking for. But can we have the same relationship like we have with other humans too and connect with us like other persons do? Therefore, I think computers will not take the role on being the next teachers or replacing them but maybe we could say as assistances to assist teachers and help them on the things that are appropriate for the computers to operate in the classroom.

Question No. 8: Would you like to use the application yourself in your future work?

There is no doubt that I will use all the applications on the website because I think it covers most of the activities, materials and skills in learning the language. Plus, I would recommend this website to my future colleagues and students and also to the administration of other schools. I may sound so 'pro' about this site but I can say that I had fallen in love with this site when I tried the quizzes and the tasks. I was like a 13 year-old boy who so eager to know the English language better by playing with the games. It is an excellent preference not only for the learners to learn but also for teachers as an alternative rather than the traditional ‘chalk and talk’ approach. Other than the amusing games and quizzes, the learners are exposed with several of topics and formality of learning a language categorized by the level of proficiency and difficultness. The authenticity of the subject matters of the contents are also been taken as serious consideration for the learners to expose with the real situations. The language usage of the website is also easy to comprehend with simple and clear instructions without sounding so bogus.

To look deep into the website, I could say that the Language Learning Potential of the site is at the appropriate terms. It does present with equal opportunities for the three levels of learners’ proficiency. The site has considered and come up with activities that serve all learners to participate with the topics and the focused skills of English language. The site tries so hard for the learners to understand the language with a better comprehension with the interactive activities and not just focus on the completion of the tasks and end up learning nothing from the activities. Moreover, the authenticity of the website does develop learners’ willingness to engage with language skills tasks as they require speaking and reading with the right enunciation, writing with the right choice of words and grammar, and being able to listen carefully to the words and sentences provided. The practicality of the website is adequate and relevant for the learners/users. It is easy for teachers and also students to implement the tasks and activities in a classrooms activities and programmes. I am not ashamed to say that the easiness and the clearness of the website could make the website as one of the core of English language learning.

Suggestions and Recommendations

I think I have been called to talked more about computers as the replacement of teachers in language teaching and learning for this ‘Suggestions and Recommendations’ section. I will definitely suggest and recommend this website to the educators and for those who want to learn English with interactive and fun activities. It offers a lot of interesting topics and wide range of games for the users. With the self-learning, self-evaluated and self-actualization of the tasks given, it is one of the tools that can helps the ESL learners to learn English better with the integrated focused on the all skills and aspects of the language. However, like I said from the first in-class task, computers should be used as a language learning tool just like any other piece of equipment on the market. There are lots of language learning kits that can help learners to learn English, so do you think they could replace the role of teachers? Moreover, it is crucially important that computer NOT become the centre of attention of the lesson of language learning. Students can be too exited with the use of computer till they put aside other meaningful things that should be covered in a classroom and also the teacher. It would lead to the failure of the lesson due to the lack of concentration from the students. Therefore, these situations should be avoided and left to teachers to decide when, and if, they want to utilize such activities.

For the website itself, I would suggest to the creators to utilize the website with more creative outlook with pictures and colors so that the young users would be more interested with the site. Although the content comes with a high-quality aspects and subject matters, people will be always gullible for the fist impression and fall into the decoy of it. Once people have come across with any particular website, they will be fascinated and ensnared with the lively design and fall in love with it. Though, it should consist with ample and appropriate with not too complex and complicated design till people get confused with the applications provided. Therefore, I think the website should be more interesting in terms of the outlook and appearance so that it will catch people to participate with the website.
References:

Brown, H. Douglas 2001. (Second Edition): Teaching by Principles; An Interactive Approach to Language Pedagogy.

Lightbown, M. Pastsy & Spada, Nina 2006. (Third Edition, First Published): How Languages are Learned (Oxford Handbooks for Language Teachers)

http://tip.psychology.org/bruner.html
http://iteslj.org/Articles/Lee-CALLbarriers.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer_skills
http://www.mylot.com/w/discussions/2080178.aspx
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aaokWDqBo74
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uR85THAEhrI

My Eyes of the World

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