Scott Thornbury, who has spoken at IATEFL 2015 about the criteria technology should meet in order to achieve effective language learning, defines himself like this on his website:
I’m a teacher and teacher educator, with over 30 years’ experience in English language teaching, and an MA from the University of Reading. I am currently Curriculum Coordinator of the MA TESOL program at The New School in New York. My previous experience includes teaching and teacher training in Egypt, UK, Spain (where I live), and in my native New Zealand. My writing credits include several award-winning books for teachers on language and methodology, as well as authoring a number of papers and book chapters on language and language teaching. I am series editor for the Cambridge Handbooks for Teachers (CUP). I was also the co-founder of the dogme ELT group (see Articles). And, currently, I am an associate of the International Teacher Development Institute (iTDi), an online campus dedicated to teacher development. Finally, here’s a link to my Amazon site.
The reason for his talk at IATEFL 2015 is that lately, he has been working on finding validating criteria for assessing the value and effectiveness of different technologies. It all stemmed from a blog post he wrote some time ago, where he developed 10 criteria which any given learning software should meet in order to provide (at least some) efficient language learning. Since he wrote that post, he has extended those to 12-14. During his interview yesterday (11th April), he highlighted several, such as providing comprehensible input, output, interaction, feedback, guidance, scaffolding, motivation, etc.
However, Scott believes that not one piece of software alone will ever meet all those criteria, while a teacher (a good one, that is) does. Therefore, he thinks that we should not forget that apps, programmes and other educational pieces of software are there to supplement what goes on in the classroom, and not to replace it.
Following the point above, Mr Thornbury suggests that language learning software could focus more on providing practice in a fun way (whatever fun means exacly). This is because language practice is absolutely necessary, although it may be boring. In this way, teachers could leave repetitive practice to learning apps while they focus on providing other learning opportunities within a classroom setting.
For more interesting interviews and talks, go to http://iatefl.britishcouncil.org/live. You can also follow the event on Twitter with the tags #IATEFL and #IATEFL2015. Make sure to subscribe and to follow Keep Smiling English on Facebook and Twitter, too.
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