Posts filed under ‘Information & Communication Technology (ICT) Final Test’

Information and Communication Technology: Using Online Chat to Promote Second Language Learning

           I.              Introduction

It is very essential for Indonesian students to recognize the importance of English as their second language since it is the language spoken and used by most of people in the world nowadays. Every teacher would like to see their students succeed and have great language proficiency and be able to apply their skills by using English inside and even outside their classrooms at schools. There are many types of learning strategies used by students to make them succeed in learning their second language, such as using pictures or flashcards, listening to songs and music, reading favorite novels or magazine, etc.

In a world where technology has been an integral part of our daily communication with people with different cultural background, it leads to the situation in which our students have been relatively familiar with this technology invasion particularly internet. Everything seems to be easily accessible, and computers are not always necessary to get to the internet connection. At present, we can access, download and even get the internet connection through our mobile phones in order to get information or even to communicate with other people. This subsequently has resulted in increased students’ awareness and knowledge about technology, internet, its applications and functions. This also explains why most of our students have an excellent understanding and familiar with some social networks and chat rooms in the internet, such as Facebook, Twitter, Friendster, Yahoo Messenger, E-buddy, etc.

Online chat is one of the most used applications used by students to communicate with other people and their friends from different places or even different countries with the help of internet connection. There are so many different and interactive chat rooms, such as chat room in Facebook, Yahoo Messenger, E-buddy, meebo, etc. In accordance with the second language learning process, chatting is one of the most effective media to help students expand everything they have learned or acquired consciously through a communication with native speakers. According to Fritzler (1995):

“The main purpose of the internet is to connect people all over the world to share information, experiences, and opinions. Because the internet is a natural resource (i.e. not a textbook created for the purpose of teaching a language), it contains real language. As students navigate their way around the primarily text-based internet, they must read and write in English, which helps them acquire the language …”

Furthermore, Kitao & Kitao (1995) stated that chatting is communicating in real time by typing a message into a computer, so that it can immediately be read on other computer screens, even computer screens in another part of the world. They also argued the importance of interaction and it influences the language learning process, because it can involve a range of speech acts, a high quantity of directives and extending utterances and opportunities to practice.

Online chat also supports the theory of cognitive approaches which claim that language learners construct a mental model of a language system, based not on habit formation but rather on innate cognitive knowledge interaction with comprehensible, meaningful language (Chomsky, 1986).  It means that learners or students are learning when they use the knowledge they have already learned through communication and interaction. Moreover, this theory stated that learners’ output (what they say or write) is beneficial principally to the extent that it helps make input (what they hear or read) more comprehensible or salient so that the learners can construct their own cognitive model of the language (Warschauer, 1999).

          II.            Objectives

Based on the background and the introduction previously, the objectives of this essay are as follow:

  1. To help language teachers recognize the importance of use of technology in teaching and learning process
  2. To encourage language learners to use online chat as one of the technology media to promote second language learning
  3. To encourage language teachers to use and apply online chat as one of the effective teaching tools in their teaching and learning process at schools

          III.           Review of Related Literature

Kitao and Kitao in 2000 investigated a study on the subject of using Online Chat in Language Teaching. Their research mainly related on what an online chat is, and list of sites on internet that will be useful for students, and as one of the teaching tools for teachers as well. Their preliminary research with Japanese students as their subject showed that many students do not have the opportunity to use English extensively outside of the classroom, so the have difficulty in seeing English as a means of communication. This is generally because students in Japan believe that English is only necessary for college entrance exams, so they have to learn it to pass the test, instead of using it for communicational purposes.

Taking from other prior theories, they provided their study with supported theories regarding online chat in language learning. They described online chatting as communicating in real time by typing a message into a computer and it can be immediately read on other computer screens even on computer screens in other parts of the world. They also argued the use of online chat as one of the means of communication; therefore, teachers can also use it as a tool in teaching and learning process. Using online chat is one of effective teaching tools which can be used by English teachers, because online chat provides media for students to communicate and to use all the things they have learned in the classroom and eventually implement it by having interaction with other people.

They also listed some chat rooms and sites on the internet that can be used for teachers and students that is synchronous communication models and some chat-related sites. The examples of synchronous communication models are SchMOOze University and Central Chat at Dave’s ESL Café. The SchMOOze University is a virtual college campus with dormitory, offices, classrooms, malls and off-campus bar which the users can chat, play games and decorate their dormitory room. Meanwhile, Central Chat at Dave’s ESL Café is a web page where users can chat in many chat rooms and messages can either be directed to entire room or to any individual logged on at Chat Central.

          IV.          Analysis

From the relevant theories and related literature review above, here is some analysis of using online chat to promote second language learning viewed in some major points as follow:

  1. Strength
  • Flexible and practical

Using online chat is flexible and can be accessed at any time convenient as long as the internet connection is connected. It is also practical because most of schools have provided and supported internet connection and Language Laboratory so students can try to practice their communication skills through online chat.

  • Increase students’ confidence

Most of the time, students are not confident when they have to speak, say something or even communicate by using English. They often feel embarrassed, shy and afraid of making mistakes when they speak. This sense of lack of confidence can be reduced and at the same time, it can increase students’ confidence by using online chat to communicate with other students or even with English native speaker without having a face-to-face conversation. Furthermore, students have more time to think what they want to say when they chat compared to the situation where they are having a direct and face-to-face conversation.

  • Fun and interactive

One great thing about online chat is that it is always fun and students can also choose the chat rooms they want to go, because normally the chat rooms also provide the topics or titles about what they are discussing or talking about at that moment. Some chat sites even provide a live online chat where the users can use web camera so students can see the face or facial expression if their chat friends.

      2. Weakness

  • High cost and maintenance

The equipments used to provide online chat are quite expensive, such as computers, CPU, internet fare, speakers, headsets, mouse, keyboards, etc. Those equipments also need to be maintained that is not inexpensive.

  • It doesn’t cover some language proficiency aspects

Although online chat is effectively proven to improve students’ communication skill, however, it doesn’t cover or improve some language proficiency aspects, such as pronunciation, intonation, and language expressions. When they chat with English native speakers, they will not be able to practice their pronunciation and intonation. Moreover, when they talk about certain topic, they actually need to listen to the sound expression or even see the facial expression of their chat friends to know the meaning of certain utterances they are saying.

  • Inappropriate behavior and intercultural obstacles

Inappropriate behavior might be one of the main reasons why most teachers avoid using online chat as one of their language teaching tools. Teachers are worried if their students are receiving rude or inappropriate behavior, such as swearing words, sexual harassment, racism, and even religious insults, which sometimes happens in the internet. Culture is also one of the obstacles that keep a distance from the users of online chat. This is mainly because every tradition or nation has different culture from one to another. For instance, for so many western people with their western cultural background, sending kisses are common, whereas it is uncommon for many eastern people. So when the students are chatting and their chat friend is a western and send the students a “kiss” smiley to break the ice, then our students might get it wrong and eventually get the wrong idea or comprehension.

          V.           Summary and Recommendation

With vast advanced technology rise, there are so many ways for students to acquire and to attain the exposure of their second language through technology. Interaction and communication are integral parts in a language; therefore, by making the use of technology as a media to bridge the communication among people around the world through online chat, students will get more opportunities to explore their communication skill and play a role as one of effective teaching aids for teachers.

          VI.          Bibliography

  1. K. Fritzler. (1995). The Internet as an Educational Tool in ESOL Writing Instruction. MA Thesis.
  2. S. Kathleen Kitao & Kenji Kitao. (2000). Using On-line Chat in Language Teaching.
  3. N. Chomsky. (1986). The Rise of the Network Society. Malden, MA: Blackwel.
  4. M. Warschauer. (1999). Electronic Literacies: Language culture and power in online educaton. Hillsdale, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

February 22, 2010 at 3:06 pm Leave a comment


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