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MID TEST: COMPUTER ASSISTED LANGUAGE LEARNING

Posted by JASMANSYAH pada Juli 24, 2008

COMPUTER ASSISTED LANGUAGE LEARNING:

ITS STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES

By: Jasmansyah

Submitted to fulfill the MID TEST of ICT in LANGUAGE TEACHING

Lecturer: Hartoyo, MA., Ph.D

Learning is a social activity. It requires many activities and it involves not only students and a teacher but also students and other students or even the students and educational media. Language learning can be done without being accompanied by a real teacher. A computer can act as if it is a teacher. Many teachers conduct teaching learning process through a computer as a medium. Computer can be a good medium to help the students learn English in an easier and interesting way. Through a computer, students can learn more than the language itself, they will be given a chance to know more about the language; here, I try to discuss the use of computer in teaching English. Of course, there are some advantages and disadvantages of utilizing computer in language learning process.

Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) relates to the use of computers for language teaching and learning. CALL offers many advantages for both teachers and students in learning language. First, computers can provide instructions, feed-back, and testing in grammar, vocabulary, writing, pronunciation, and other dimensions of language and culture learning. In this case, the teacher will only be a facilitator. He or she has been much helped by a computer. The teacher can easily control the activities of learning being done by his students. The programs that are installed and connected to the server will be easily controlled by a teacher. Not only that, a computer can also provide reading access to written audio and visual materials relate to the language and culture being studied by students. CALL also offers freedom for users to choose any topics of information available within the package (Hartoyo, 2006:27). A study conducted by Amstrong (2003) shows that learning achievement can be increased up to 50 percent when a teaching learning process utilizes CALL. Second, because of CALL’s flexibility of time, it can allow the students to determine what particular topics and how long they want to learn. Hence, students who miss the class because of some reasons, for instance illness, still have an opportunity to learn the particular topic taught in the classroom because the programs are available in the CALL program (Hartoyo, 2006:30). It can stimulate an individual interactive learning program, so both ‘fast and slow’ learners can take the benefit from it. The third, CALL can give a new role to teaching materials. Out of the content of CALL, teaching materials are really passive. Although the students said or did could influence in any deep sense the linear progression of the contents in CALL, materials adapt themselves to the requirements of the individual students; that is they become interactive (Peter, 1993:5).

Despite the fact that there are some advantages of utilizing computers in language learning, there are also a bit of disadvantages of CALL. The CALL program is considered to be much less handy. It is much different from traditional books that are small enough to be carried around and studied wherever and whenever students wish, on a train, on a bus, at home, in the middle of the night, or in a dentist’s waiting room (Anzel et al, 1992). Furthermore, at current time most of students do not possess their own computer at home; therefore, they just used computers available in their schools in which the opening hours are very restricted. Working long hours with computers also can make students’ eyes strain and tiring. It may, sometimes, account for the eye irritation and pain. CALL sometimes decreases the interaction among students or what we call the social aspect of schooling. It can not promote physical activities. Besides that, CALL is costly enough for the programmers or teachers. A lot of funds have to be provided to buy some equipments, design programs, and for its maintenance. The school with limited budget will find some obstacles in funding the CALL program. To create a program of CALL must have at least forty computers for one class capacity. Of course, lots of money needed for building computer laboratory. A lot of money is also needed to train teachers, especially English teachers, since there are only a few of English teachers who can operate computers as well as its new software.

In conclusion, the use of computers in language learning has so many advantages that we as English teachers must utilize it in a real teaching learning process to maximize students’ language potentiality. Talking about its weaknesses, we, as teachers, must inform to stake holders about the urgency of utilizing CALL in teaching learning process since most of the weaknesses come from the financial point. A school can train some English teachers to be able to operate computer as long as there is enough budget to do the program.

References

Anzel, Betina and A.H. Jucker. (1992). Learning Linguistics with Computers: in
Individual Differences in CALL by Hartoyo, 2: 31.

Amstrong, Thomas. (2003). Setiap Anak Cerdas: Panduan Membantu Anak Belajar
dengan Memanfaatkan Multiple Intellegence, Terjemahan Rina Buntaran.
Jakarta: Gramedia Pustaka Utama.

Hartoyo. (2006). Individual Differences in Computer Assisted Language Learning
(CALL). Semarang: Universitas Negeri Semarang Press.

Peter, Scrimshaw. (1993). Language, Classroom, and Computers. London: British
Library Cataloguing in Data Publication.

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