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Are all computer learning solutions really so bad?

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Joined: 25 Jun 2008
Posts: 3
Location: Paris, France

PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2008 6:04 pm    Post subject: Are all computer learning solutions really so bad? Reply with quote

Hi, I'm new here, hello. And I have a question.

My experience with my adult students here in France is that they have terrible problems finding the time to study, even 'cool' on-line solutions like CD-ROMs and interactive web sites.

I've identified the following main reasons and my web site (yep, I've got one too!) has been designed with the simple aim of trying to combat these difficulties.

According to my students, the main reasons French learners canít stick with an on-line or CD-ROM-based English learning programme are as follows:

=> too busy at work;
=> topics not relevant;
=> no real interactivity;
=> family constraints;
=> not tailored to French learners;
=> lessons too long;
=> lack of humour or fun;
=> no element of surprise/spontaneity;
=> doesnít treat todayís news;
=> not motivating;
=> no English teacher to talk to!

So I'd be very interested to know if others have encountered these very real and human problems, often nothing to do with the proposed learning solution. One of my attempts at making it easier for my students has been to make exercises and above all the podcasts and videocasts extremely short and snappy, with a certain element of fun in there too.

Does anyone have any more ideas on how to tackle this problem?

Thanks in anticipation,

Sab Will
Editor, TESOL France Magazine
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Joined: 08 May 2007
Posts: 30
Location: Brighton, UK

PostPosted: Sat Nov 15, 2008 1:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi grimfarmer,

I've been using and administering a Learning Management System with my classroom students for the past couple of years (I'm a Flash developer too). I'm wary of legal issues related to keeping details of children on-line so I only allow adults who I know personally (i.e. my students) to use it. It's been really helpful to get feedback from them, face-to-face, about their observations while using the system.

I think the main obstacle for effective use of CALL isn't the quality or appropriateness of the materials (Although I think that they're extremely important for effective learning!) but one simple tendency among the majority of adult students learning EFL/ESL:

They like interacting with people. They enjoy meeting people and chatting with them, find out about them, and sometimes making friends with them. The EFL/ESL classroom is (or at least should be) a very special place where students feel at ease and can relax and enjoy the company of other like-minded people while they study.

The LMS I use (Moodle - open source, therefore free - does have a strong emphasis on social networking (chat, collaborative projects, Skype module, etc.) but I don't think it'll ever be as attractive as the EFL/ESL classroom to most adult students.

I think the best way to make CALL attractive and therefore effective is to pack it with helpful resources and activities that specifically address the language points that you're studying together in class. Oxford University Press are making a tentative but commendable effort towards this approach with their New English File series of course books. I think it's a good example of how to get CALL right and their on-line resources are available for free:

I hope this helps!


P.S. You can check out my demonstration course here:
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