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The Use of ICT for the Teaching and Learning of English as a Second Language in Nigeria: The "What", "Why", and "How"

The
computer is impacting greatly on the way we write and speak the English
language.
This is because it has revolted against
some parts of conventional patterns of usage and writing.

The Use of ICT for the
Teaching and Learning of English as a Second Language in Nigeria: The
"What", "Why", and "How"

 

Saidu Yahaya Ojoo, PhD
Department of English and Literature
Federal
University Gusau
, Zamfara State,
Nigeria

Abstract

In language teaching, the use of computers
has been on
since before the coming
of the internet. Later computer assisted language learning (CALL) developed and
concerned itself with the pedagogical applications of the technology.
Information Communication Technology (IT) which is an offshoot of science
through its internet and computer-mediated communication (CMC) has gone beyond
science to broaden the lexical inventories of the English language. It is
against this backdrop that this paper tends to conduct a study on
computer-mediated communication with a focus on the teaching and learning of
the English language in Nigeria. The study aims to bring to the fore the issues
and challenges associated with this new normal. The study also examines the
benefits associated with the use of this technology in the teaching and
learning of the English language. The study also employs Direct Participatory
Observation and a questionnaire as means of gathering data for the research.
Famous McL unnham’s Technological Determinism Theory was employed as the
theoretical framework of analysis. On the whole, the paper discovered among
other things that the use of CMC made students confident and give them the zeal
of being online and wanting to discover and learn via the medium of
computer-mediated communication. The study concludes that the use of this
method of teaching and learning English in Nigeria has to be encouraged for
efficiency and exactness for both in the teaching and learning of English in
Nigeria. Solutions and recommendations were proffered to ameliorate the
challenges associated with the use of these technological devices.

Keywords: English language, Teaching and Learning,
Computer-Mediated Communication, Computer Technology

 

Introduction

In
Nigeria, the English language particularly standard British English has
continued to enjoy maximum attention as the medium of formal communication,
especially as a language of instruction. Parents and proprietors of schools
have often accepted the use of the English language as a mark of prestige.
Taiwo (2008) contends that the expansion of the domains of English to
electronic communication has increased the number of English users, especially among
the young ones. No doubt, many educators like Cameroon, (1999), Chambers and
Davis (2000), and Zhoo (2003) have written on the implications of the computer in
the context of teaching and learning generally, but it is part of the focus of
this present research article to address some of the implications of computer-mediated
communication (CMC), e-English, or ICT for the teaching and learning of English
as a second language.
It
is obvious, life is changing and so
are
its languages too. The dynamism seen in language is a
result of the creative power of the human mind using language. Therefore, the English
language as a global language is allowing or absorbing these changes thereby
increasing its lexical inventory, which might achieve acceptability after some
time. Some of these new creations will be a source of worry for teachers in the
classrooms. Thus, the implications are the students who are at the centre of
these changes will be at the receiving end since most of their expressions will
be seen as errors.   

Computer
technology has given the students the latitude to play with words and encourage
them in developing their writing skills Abdulah (2005).
Apart from this, it is
extending beyond the regionalized boundaries of Nigerian English (NE), America
English (AE), British English (BE),
and Ghanian English (GE) to language
without borders. Therefore, the ways of writing and vocabulary coinages in
English are expanding to reflect this trend. And this rapid and largely
uncharted evolution of the English language is sure to continue unabated given the
growing influence of English in the world. Despite the importance of English,
its teaching in Nigeria has continued to witness a lot of problems with a dwindling
performance by students. Thus, Computer-mediated-Communication (CMC) Means
using computer technology for inter and intra- personal communication. It is a
means which involves people situated in different places and/or times. It is a
screen-to-screen training which is obtained through the computers that are
hooked to the internet. Computer-mediated Communication includes e-mails, text
messaging, list servers, bulletin boards, web pages, audio conferencing and
online chat, etc.

Indeed,
Adegbola, (2007), posits that “science no doubt has spun great success and
facilities technology to define the way we live.” This paper expresses the view
that various innovations occasioned by science and technology have not changed
the world‘s physical outlooks, but have also contributed to the growth and use
of English in painting present-day realities. In the same way, Information
Communication Technology (IT) which is an offshoot of science through its
internet and computer-mediated communication (CMC) has gone beyond science to
broaden the lexical inventories of the English language. Also in the words of
Gradol (1997), as cited by Faleye,
(2008), “computer technology age is not
only encouraging the use of English but also transforming it”. Thus,
technological innovations have gone hand in hand with the growth of English and
the two are changing how we communicate, write, and learn English.

Statement of the Problem

The
computer is impacting greatly on the way we write and speak the English
language.
This
is because it has revolted against some parts of conventional patterns of usage
and writing. However, language teaching is entering a new and uncharted phase
as a result of e-English. This is what Warchaner & Isern, (2000) as cited
in Falaye, (2010)
call
the ‘cognitive phase’ in which students/teachers interact with one another and
the world through the computer. Thus, it is against this backdrop that the
present study tends to conduct a study on the issues and challenges of
computer-mediated communication with a focus on the teaching and learning of
the English language in Nigeria.

Objectives of the Study

The
research paper mainly investigates the challenges encountered by teachers and
as well as students in the course of using technological media to teach the English
language. the study aimed at examining the issues and challenges of the use of computer-mediated
communication in the teaching and learning of the English language in Nigeria.
The objectives are as follows:

i.                   
Determine the challenges
of computer-mediated communication in the teaching and learning of the English
language in Nigeria.

ii.                 
Inspire group learning
and student-teacher participation in learning through computer-mediated
communication

Conceptual Clarifications

The Internet and English
language

In
language teaching, the use of computers
had been on even before the coming of the internet. Later computer
assisted language learning (CALL) developed and concerned itself with the
pedagogical applications of the technology. In the course of this work, the
paper discovered that computers in the pre-internet days did not significantly
influence the English language, but with the advent of the internet, the
computer began to proportionately change the language. For example, the various
text messages on mobile phones and expressions used while engaging in computer-related
activities come with various spellings and coinages that deviated significantly
from the conventional and Standard English spelling and usage. Crystal (1980)
as cited by Faleye (2008), aptly describes it as the features of situational
distinctive uses of language. Hence, computer-mediated communication has its
peculiar coinages, vocabularies, and spelling devices. Also, Awonusi (2004)
opines that the advent of SMS messaging which is an aspect of e-English depends
on the linguistic features of informal English as a constraint of time, money,
and space as some of the factors encouraging the evolution of various
linguistics strategies to communicate comprehensively but briefly. Hence, this
caused the distortions of English spellings and omission of punctuation
marks in some constructions in
text messages.

In
another development, the inventions of the computer and electronics have
greatly affected English vocabulary in the present era. It has equally led to
the evolution of what Cheater (2006) calls netiquette-
a convention that surrounds the use of internet-related expressions in society.
However, the question remained, what impact has this computer-mediated
Communication (CMC) had on the English language?

Many
educators like Cameroon (1999), Chambers and Davies (2001), and Zhao (2003)
have written on the implications of the computer in the context of teaching
generally, but it is part of the focus of this paper to address some of the
implications of Computer-mediated- Communication, (CMC), e-English or ICT for
the teaching and learning of English language as a second language. The fact
is, life is changing, and so
are
languages
too. The dynamism seen in language
s
is a result of the creative power of the human mind in using language.
English language as a
global language is allowing or absorbing these changes, thereby increasing its
lexical inventory, which might achieve acceptability after some time. Some of
these new creations will be a source of worry for teachers in the classrooms.
The implications are the students, who are at the center of these usages will
be at the receiving end since most of their expressions will be seen as errors

Teaching English as a
Secondary Language

Teaching
English as a second language means teaching English as a second language. A
second language (L2) can be described as a language that is usually the
sequential second language of a bilingual person. It may or not be the
sequential second language of a multilingual person. It may be the fourth
language of a multilingual person which however functions as a second language
in a societal bilingual. For example, in Nigeria, English has been considered a
second language for quite some time. But with the current educational policy in
the country where the three major indigenous Nigerian languages are made
compulsory in schools; and every child is expected to learn at least Hausa,
Igbo, or Yoruba as his second language.

Kachru
(1983) as cited by Omole (2007), Submits that English as a second language is
also referred to as an institutionalized variety. It has some ontological
status. Its features are an extended range of use in the sociolinguistic
context of a nation where it’s used, extended register and style range,
undergoes a process of nativization of registers and styles which have taken
place in both formal and contextual terms. Ajibola, (2010). Teaching English as
a second language or any other language has much in common with any other teaching,
but also has its unique challenges. Among other things, it needs some
understanding of how language works quite a bit of patience, and considerable
showmanship; hence the need for computer-mediated communication CMC software.

The Benefit of Computer-mediated-Communication
in
Language
Teaching and Learning

There
is no gain in saying that with the introduction of ICT came a new approach to
language teaching and learning using computer-assisted learning (CAL). Quality
CAL software provided yet another medium for learning a language. At the
moment, there are varieties of computer applications available including
vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation checkers, electronic workbook programs,
etc. This is to say that many of the CAL programs have been developed for
students to practice in their course of learning as a second language; and
these are in the four language skills of listening, speaking, reading, and
writing. Also available are programs in grammar, language function, and
vocabulary development.

ICT
and the internet in particular provide language learners with an opportunity to
use the language being learnt in meaningful ways in authentic contexts. The
internet provides easy and fast access to the use of current and authentic
materials including online newspapers, web-casts, pod-casts, newsrooms, video
clips, and sharing websites such as you-tube.

Another
motivating language learning opportunity using ICT is provided by chat rooms
and a visual environment such as ‘second life’ where language learners can
practice not only the written use of language but also practice speaking and
pronunciation of language without the fear of making mistakes. ICT is also
important in classroom language learning with the opportunity of ICT- based
tools given to language teachers. ICT-based tools allow language teachers to
teach their learners more efficiently. With the help of ICT-based tools, they can
give individual and personalized guidance to learners. It is easier for the
language teacher to use different approaches with students and accommodate
different learning styles and the different needs of fast, slow, or handicapped
language learners.

Theoretical Framework:
Technological Determinism Theory

For
us to investigate a phenomenon of this nature, the researcher depended on
technological determinism theory as a guide to uncover the challenges
experienced with the use of computer-mediated communication in the teaching and
learning of the English language in an ICT age in developing countries with a focus
on Nigeria. technological determinism theory as propounded by Marshal Mclunham
(1962) states that a man’s feelings, actions, and thoughts are shaped by evolving
technologies, the theory sees ‘medium as the message’ because we learn,
feel and think the way we
do, because of the current communication technologies that we are exposed to.
Thus, the teaching of the English language is being reshaped by digital
technology. This is manifested in the new ways of teaching and learning of
English language through the medium of computer-mediated communication. For
example, reading on screen is now evolving because of the availability of
various tools that aid reading in e-learning as well as e-teaching. The
fundamental underlying technology determinism is that, the media are now an extension
of the human body and that they alter not only their environment but the very
message is received, (Folarin, 2005)

Methodology

Several
sampling techniques could be used to gather information for a study of this
nature. The data for this work was gathered through self-effacing observation
and the administration of questionnaires. These two methods were used simultaneously
to complement each other thereby making the outcome reliable. In other words,
the motive behind the use of the two methods is to check whether or not there
are conflicting findings. In the first place, unobtrusive observation was
chosen to note the proficiency in the application of the devices available to
the users for teaching and learning. While the students and teachers were
observed in classrooms, lecture halls, lecture theatres, computer rooms, and
laboratories; the questionnaires were personally administered to the
respondents at once to ensure total return. Thus, in the questionnaire, the
respondents were among other things demanded to identify digital devices they
are familiar with, their willingness to use them, and which of them is most
friendly and affordable. And what are their challenges?

Findings and Discussions

As
earlier made mentioned, in this paper that the purpose of this study was among
other things to examine the challenges of the use of computer-mediated
communication resources in the teaching and learning of English as a second
language in Nigeria. The current investigation in Science and Technology is providing
new techniques for teaching and learning in our schools. Therefore, the finding
from our Personal Participatory Observation revealed that the shift from the
conventional methods of teaching to the use of ICT resources in teaching and
learning has been embraced by many. Language teaching and learning require the development
of skills in listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Listening and speaking
require the learners to hear and produce sounds and be able to distinguish one
sound from another. To read, a learner must associate spoken words with written
or printed symbols. Communication and Information Technology media are
therefore very essential not only for the development of language skills but
also to stimulate the ability of oral and written expressions on the part of
learners. Therefore, this study summari
ses its discovery as follows:

a.       The
use of computer-mediated communication resource makes the students confident
and give them the zeal to be in line with what they want to discover as well as
what they are asked to do.

b.      Students
are always willing and eager to use computer-mediated communication devices for
learning.

c.       The
students are well motivated when they are undertaking a project that involves
the use of technology to find a solution.

d.      Students’
attention is arrested whenever something is displayed on the screen which in turn
remained in their memory longer than when such things are written on the
chalkboard.

On the question of the challenges of using
computer-mediated communication in our schools in Nigeria, the researcher
discovered during the investigation that several factors affect the effective
use of computer-mediated communication resources in Nigeria. These factors
among others include the following:

i.                   
Inadequate teaching
methodology: teaching theory behind education is referred to as
Constructionism. Teachers’ preparation of courses in educational technology
teaches the concepts of inquiry-based learning. In-inquiry based classrooms or
lessons, students are encouraged to research topics under their guidance and
direction with the teachers acting as facilitators. This type of teaching and
learning can take years to achieve, and it often requires great expense in terms
of both money and time. Thus, to use computer-mediated communication, and resources
most effectively, extensive professional development is required for the
classroom teachers who would serve as facilitators.

ii.                 
The inadequacy of
resources also constitutes a challenge to the teaching and learning of the English
language.
For
instance, a large number of students requires a large number of technology
resources in ensuring that there are enough computers, internet devices, modems,
and other necessary educational-assisted media, and another plethora of other
necessary teaching and learning instrument is also a challenging task.

iii.               
Maintenance Expenses: the
cost of maintenance of machines and equipment can be very expensive. For
instance, outdated software and hardware components can be incompatible with
available programs.

iv.               
It was also discovered
that many students and teachers find it very difficult to subscribe to data or
better still get themselves functional smartphones of their choice. In short,
very many of them do not have functional laptops, or desktops to use for
teaching and learning activities.

Conclusion and
Recommendations

 In language teaching, the use of computers has
been before the coming of the internet. Later computer assisted language
learning (CALL) developed and concerned itself with the pedagogical
applications of the technology. ICT and the internet in particular provide
language learners with an opportunity to use the language being learnt in
meaningful ways in authentic contexts. The internet provides easy and fast
access to the use of current and authentic materials in language, which is aimed
at motivating language learners. Such authentic materials include online
newspapers, web-casts, pod-casts, newsroom Video clips, and sharing websites
such as youtube. The fact remains that, as we accept education to be an
investment with effect on all sectors of the economy globally, we should also
accept the fact that the English language is an important highway that leads us
to sustain the development that we are always yearning for especially in
changing world of science and technology. Therefore, issues concerning teaching
and learning must command the attention of the government. Therefore, it is
part of the task of this paper to make valuable recommendations to the
government as well as the users of English in the following terms:

a.       That
the contents of the language syllabus have to be enriched to include lexemes from
e-English to facilitate teaching and learning of English as a second language.
This cannot be delayed because of its relevance to our day-to-day activities.
There should be a new syllabus and the contents should include the vocabulary
from computer-related learning situations so much so that the learners/
teachers can generate authentic language expressions which can be employed by
teachers in authentic language situations.

b.      The
teachers should be made to emphasize in teaching the dichotomy that exists
between the formal and informal styles of writing and pointing to their
students that most of the distortions in spelling and use of abbreviation
permissible in GSM, OR CMC will not be allowed in formal academic writing.

c.       Language,
to behaviorists, is a habit stabilized. It should be stressed that users of
e-English should be very conscious of the context of the use of language and
make the right choice of which variety of expressions to be use
d in different domains of
language use. For example, spelling distortions or phonetic spelling are not
used in official/business writings, but they are permissible in unofficial
writing.

d.       Teachers who are guilty of using short hands
in classrooms with students must desist from doing so because of the impact this
has on their students who see them as role models.

e.        The teachers should ensure that students are
frequently assessed especially in essay writing and other forms of writing
where non-standard usage by students is underlined and notes made by teachers
concerned on the script. Marked scripts should unfailingly be returned to
students so that they learn from their mistakes.

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