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False benefits & advantages of language labs.

June 27, 2016

 

The number of schools using language labs has increased noticeably. This paper is aimed at discussing the real & false advantages of English language learning labs.
 

False benefits:
1. Self paced learning is a myth:
It is not entirely self-paced learning, it is self paced learning within school setting. Learners can’t carry the equipment around. They can’t study wherever & whenever they want. Restricted access & less handy equipment minimize self pacing & experiential learning opportunities. Self paced learning in the class room allows learners view material as many times as possible only if they get enough time with the tool.
2. Improved discipline & teacher monitoring:
Could be considered as a benefit but is it about learning outcome or monitoring class? However, in order to monitor learning outcome the teacher would have to spend a lot more time than it takes to monitor class taught by conventional modes. The outcome is definitely more as the teacher would have to listen to recordings and share feedback. However, we don’t need a language lab for that. What about the benefits of learning together in a group? The whole concept of schooling is based on the theory of learning together with peers. Are we trying to look down on our time tested tenet?
3. Building student experience:
They say that more experience students have with computer technology, the more successful they will be in the real world. For that we have to set up computer labs not English language lab. All we have to do is provide them with microphones and headsets, and that is it. We have enough resource on internet already.
4. Internet access & access to digital storage: To record and assess students’ speech. You can record speech & assess later with various free tools accessible to almost everybody today.
5. Listening & comprehension tool:
They are several free listening & comprehension tools available on internet today.
6. Access to best samples of pronunciation:
Language lab isn’t the only source for best samples. They are several trustworthy resources available today. However, students would still have to memorize spellings & pronunciation. Labs don’t have any special content which is not available to our teachers.
7. Developing listening skills & Native speaker’s voice:
They say that students will get to hear the correct language patterns all the time through their headsets instead of mimicking other students who may be pronouncing incorrectly. However, we would need individual system to explore the tool and there are several free tools available.

 

Other challenges:
1. Would it improve automaticity?
2. Would it help students to learn to read?
3. Would it encourage student to read to learn as well?
4. Learners spend a lot of time memorizing spellings & pronunciation. Does it help students in memorizing those pronunciations as well?

 

Benefits of class room learning:
1. We get more questions and more learning opportunities. A teacher can resolve queries of a student and it will get registered with every student in the classroom. It is not possible with English lab which is an individualized learning tool.
2. There are opportunities to tackle questions outside the remit of the course.
3. A teacher can make it engaging, interesting & enjoyable.
4. Learning can be instantly adapted to suit the need of the students.
5. It gives multiple sensory learning experiences to address psychological aspect of language learning & confidence building.

 

Some other benefits proposed by English labs:
Overcome shyness:
They are other economical & effective ways to help learners overcome shyness. Individualization & Privacy:
Privacy is expensive. However, the need could be challenged considering the psychological aspect of collaborative learning.
Record & compare: 
It is just a convenience and there are free tools available.
Simplified record keeping:
It is just a convenience and there are free tools available.
Oral testing:
Can be considered as a benefit.
Role playing exercises:
Can be considered as a benefit. However, there are economical, more effective and stimulating alternatives available.

 

Benefits of readmyscript program:
Fits perfectly in the definition of peer learning, self paced learning & learn on the go. To encourage learners to get involved is one of the biggest challenges of educators today. Learners can really get involved with readmyscript program. Words are everywhere. Apart from textbooks, learners come across a lot of words every day. You go out, see messages on signboards & billboards everywhere, the products you use, on television, school buses and notice board as well. Learners can really get engaged if they have the tools to identify the pronunciation of words themselves. They can involve their parents, teachers & peers as well real time.

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