For years language teachers have been trying to come up with new ways to transfer knowledge to their students, not only with basic teaching techniques but also by using various teaching aids. As the technology progressed so did the need for the implementation of modern teaching aids in classrooms all around the world. Most of us remember the blackboard and chalk, and even overhead projectors, but nowadays it’s the computers, digital projectors and internet that we have at our disposal.
If a teacher succeeds in merging old teaching techniques with the new technology, they can almost guarantee a fun and interesting classroom. For example, pair the listening task with a visual one - this method is great with young children, instead of just listening to the text, they get to watch what is going on on a screen. It can be in form of a film, an animation or plain pictures. In this way their attention is more focused and at the same time, paired picture and sound helps them memorize the lesson better. This makes the whole experience more entertaining, without losing the educational value, while at the same time leaving very little room for distractions during class.
Another good example is combining writing with visual materials. As we all know one of the main parts of all language exams is different types of writing tasks, for example articles, reviews, formal and informal letters etc. Why not instead of giving them a task of writing a film review just give them a film to review, right there in class thus helping them focus faster and spend less time thinking about the given topic. There is an abundance of very interesting and educational short films online, they take up about five to ten minutes of your class and at the same time give your students some fresh ideas. What makes this a great technique is that not every student is going to like the film, so the diversity of reviews will be a great way to start up a discussion. This method can be applied not only to writing reviews but also articles, you can show a documentary and ask them to express their feelings about it. These are just some ideas how to pair writing task with visual aids, it opens up an opportunity to mix and combine ideas and at the same time keep your students focused and interested, but most of all involved in the class.
If we take into consideration that even children aged 3 and younger have been exposed to internet, and the different games available on and offline, we can safely assume that they have been exposed to language that is not their native and have been acquiring it at the speed of light in order to excel at the game they are playing. This makes a foreign language teacher's job a lot easier. So, by simply directing young learners’ attention to appropriate games that are both fun and educational, they can give them an opportunity to learn as well as play. Thus using the modern technology to their advantage and at the same time keeping the students entertained and letting them do what they love. The only danger with this method might be the angry parents, who dislike their children spending so much time on the computer. Sadly, the truth is that the child who wants to play online games will do so no matter what, so why then not point them in the right direction, while at the same time explaining to the parents that it is not your goal to get them to spend more time on the computer, but actually to use the time that they are already spending on it more constructively.
More often than not there is a fun educational CD accompanying the course book especially on elementary levels, and it contains materials for all of the above listed techniques, both visual and audio exercises together with games and stories. What it does not contain is a teacher, meaning that instead of just mentioning to students to check out the CD, a teacher should do it together with them in class. A good example is creating a tournament in puzzle word, or other similar games, or doing a song competition. In this way the students will be more motivated to play the CD at home, to prepare for classes and at the same time learn.
On the other hand, an opinion exists that all these new and modern language teaching methods actually subtract from a student-teacher relationship, making them estranged and lacking in, so to say, a human touch. The fact of the matter is that it all depends on the teacher and the teacher’s approach to using these techniques. There is no dispute that the new techniques implemented in language teaching can bring more benefit than harm when used properly, but there is also a possibility of teachers misusing them. The use of all these techniques needs to be carefully planned by the teacher, used at the right time for the right purpose in order for them to be effective and not boring for the students.
To conclude, language teaching techniques have drastically changed in order to follow the modern technological trends. Modern technology, when used properly, can make a language teacher’s job much easier, and language learning much more fun for students, but it is important to remember to find the right balance between old teaching techniques and the implementation of new ones while using all the available teaching aids that the technology has brought.