If the world today is a global village, it needs a common language to be able to communicate. English, not many would doubt, has emerged as the most favoured language to communicate. To secure your place in this village therefore, acquiring the skill to speak English is a logical requirement. Technology is making this more and more easy today. In fact, technology has become an integral part of the language learning experience as it offers unlimited and appropriate materials to the learners. It is however, not only about access. Technology has impacted the way language teaching and learning happens currently.
Unlike the traditional one-way teaching method, through the use of technology, students can control their own learning process. The emergence of powerful and versatile mobile devices offers to the users a combination of flexibility, accessibility, and interactivity with online resources as never before. The independent use of technologies gives learners self-direction where they play an active role in determining their pace of learning at a convenient time and place. The virtual exchange helps to bring together groups of learners from different cultural contexts for extended periods of online intercultural collaboration and interaction. Follow-up discussions involve more information providing greater opportunity for learning independence. No wonder, technology-based self-learning has become one of the most popular methods to improve skills in the English language.
“Educators are perpetually concerned if students are interested in what they are learning. Mobile technology and backend data associated with it gives a rich insight into the usage pattern of resources:”
In other words, technology allows learners to become more autonomous with the ability to take responsibility for their own learning process.
It is in this context that one of the recent books called “Autonomous Language Learning With Technology – Beyond The Classroom” by Chun Lai, Associate Professor, Division of Chinese Language and Literature, University of Hong Kong, deserves a mention. This book has received considerable attention for providing a useful snapshot of the crucial topic of autonomy in the field of foreign/second language learning. It is flagged to be important because limited research is available on language learning beyond the classroom. As hinted above, the scope of language learning especially English Language goes much beyond the classroom. Thus, this book which examines language learners’ needs and the role of teachers in the development of learner autonomy, assumes importance and deserves attention. We provide our readers with a peep into some of the ideas shared in this book.
It has been established by longitudinal research that not only does the use of technology for learning require a degree of autonomy, but also that our understanding of the impact of technology is changing our understanding of learner autonomy. The book draws our attention to acknowledge that technology brings both affordances and restrictions to the development of autonomy. A more notable point of the book is the thorough exposition of the existing theoretical frameworks associated with autonomous learning. The author puts these theories under three categories : a) those focusing on learner experiences b) those focusing on factors affecting learners’ technological experiences and c) the ones explaining the development of autonomy with technology.
The book goes on to address some core issues like that of learner engagement and interaction with technology and the quality of different types of learning activities in an out of-class context to enhance the autonomous language learning process. It provides a detailed overview of the factors affecting technology-enhanced out-of-class language learning. In short, the book serves as a useful guidebook of autonomous out-of-class language learning through the use of technology and summarises the properties of technology-enhanced materials aimed to be used in language learning beyond the school setting. It therefore offers a rich resource for language teachers, language educators, and researchers.
Educators are perpetually concerned if students are interested in what they are learning. Mobile technology and backend data associated with it gives a rich insight into the usage pattern of resources. Researchers have found that in countries of the Asian and Asia-Pacific region, reading and writing are emphasised far more than listening and speaking, particularly in elementary schools. This lack of oral and listening practice, is exacerbated by the absence of an English language context to foster speaking and list ening. This also results in a lack of confidence among instructors. The Apps leveraging technology have been trying to overcome these deficiencies very effectively to create a confident English-speaking generation who can stake a claim in the global village with confidence.