Learning in a Changing World

Dr. Protiva Rani Karmaker

24 September, 2020 12:00 AM printer

In this changing world of Information and Communications Technology (ICT), English is deemed a pure lingua franca: a language used widely for communication between people who do not share the same as a first language. Braj Kachru in 1983 predicted that “If the spread of English continues at the current rate, by the year 2000 its non-native speakers will outnumber its native speakers’ (1983:3).” Braj Kachru’s guess was right. Today English is the widely spoken foreign language in Bangladesh. In congruence with the mass digitalisation campaign and its efficacy across Bangladesh, her education sector is literally experiencing a revolutionary acceleration in terms of multitudinous ways of English language teaching and learning.

Even amidst this critical moment of coronavirus outbreak, when our life has become stagnant and dim, academic institutions are closed thinking of the safety of our students, Technology Enhanced English Language Learning (TELL) has been playing an important role. Ever since the advent of technology in the arena of education like other branches of knowledge, English language teaching and learning has witnessed a series of innovations. The present-day technology-based English learning has made our learners self-reliant, though the importance of psychological tie between teachers and learners in classroom as well as the importance of their socialisation to promote learning a language and apply knowledge and skill at the practical field is vital.

Today’s over usages and dependence on technology and the internet in teaching a language can define the fate of many students as well as can have an impact on effective language teaching and learning. During this pandemic situation, a great number of teachers of the English language of different levels have adopted social networking sites, like Facebook and Messenger, which are now acting as an omnipresent scope of effectuating teaching and learning English. Learners connected to the social-networking-site accounts of respective teachers get to watch the videos in their own time anywhere and learn from them as such. A handful of teachers create their own YouTube channels and upload their recorded videos. They send the links of the video to the target learners to watch and learn. When technology is providing us with an abundance of information, definitely we need something more creative and an engaged one from technology.

Transfer of learning from sole memorisation to deep realisation is required now. We know perception, generalizations and assumptions can be influenced by media, but it is the responsibility of every member of society to be diligent in encouraging the learners to discover pure beauty, truth and accurate information or knowledge from technology. We need to engage learners more and more in searching for enriching vocabulary, skills of reading, writing, speaking and listening. Literature and language are intertwined.

Without studying literature we remain incomplete. For improving practical skill, we need to read stories, facts and others. It will be wise to start reading stories from the internet. We need to read more to foster understanding, creativity and competence in reading skills. We need to write more to express, convince, argue and to convey meaning through well-constructed text.  We need to practice speaking to transfer our information and emotion with meaningful production of sounds.  Moreover, we need to listen more to develop receiving meaningful communication. Through Technology Enhanced English Language Learning (TELL), we can achieve all but with partial participation, and in one-handed teaching, it is difficult to achieve success.

Most of the students and language teachers should have access to TELL facilities. Sometimes there remains a minute gap between technology and effective usage, which may affect the whole language learning procedures. For teaching and learning any new language like English, we need to take care of the mental, financial and social wellbeing of students and teachers in times of pandemic. There remains an acute psychiatric aspect of mental health— as per the study prepared on behalf of the World Health Organization as a contribution to the United Nations programme for the prevention of crime and treatment of offenders. The digital impact of social media on English language education especially for nursery classes students are beyond imagination.

Here lies the importance of guided learning for young learners. We also need to bring innovations. The Flipped classroom is one of the most rapidly emerging trends in e-learning. In this classroom, teachers are allowed to make the best use of time substantially charged with tasks or activities to encourage students’ internalisation, preparation and motivation for engagement and achievement at their own pace (Knowles, 1975). Sometimes both the teacher and students share a common website where teachers post materials to be taught before their class, and students get knowledge before the class.

During class, a checkup quiz is implemented to check assignments and a mini-lecture follows with a view to wrapping up an online session. Small/whole group activities or discussion are carried out. In flipped classroom, the pre-preparation assignments with short videos and highly comprehensible worksheets served as a catalyst for maximising class time, retaining more interaction between the instructor and the students, giving ample chances to communicate in class and achieving learning goals in the end. Blackboard and Blackboard Mobile were instrumental in affording a flexible environment for assignments anywhere anytime, mobile checkup quiz in class and technology-based activities in and out of class. Thus we get a great difference between the flipped classroom from the regular one, though the regular classroom is already inevitable here.

Teaching Online Qualified Engaged Students (TOQES) has been emerged as another new breed in educational sectors (Dunsmore and Meekons, 2013). A teacher can be seen as a director of learning, a friend or counselor of pupils, a member of a group of professional workers and a citizen participating in various community activities at national and international levels. For engaging learners more in learning language procedure, a lot of assignments are given. But I think we should engage them from easy learning to difficult ones online. It would be wise if we could be like bees in using technology. Like bees we will uptake only the good and effective ones from technology.

All that we need is to change our perception and increase our dedication to motivation. In the upcoming changing world ‘motivation’ will be the most powerful word for both teachers and learners. We can feel that learning and teaching English with effectuation online is not totally impossible. In this condition of the global crisis, we have to embrace diversity. By increasing social reliability, intimacy, openness and transparency towards each other, we will get the best taste of technology in the changing world. At first, we may not get success, but certainly our last hit will break the stone.