The answer to this question may not be a clear yes or no. Some teachers have a favorable opinion on instructional uses of technology, but they do not have access to much of that technology. Their answer is yes in theory, but no in practice. Other teachers would not speak out against using technology in the classroom, but prefer to teach using traditional methods they are more familiar with. Their answer is no for me, but it’s fine for others to use technology if they want to. Among teachers who do utilize technology in their instruction, are those who may state an absolute yes; certain forms of technology have become integral in their lessons.
I’d argue that in a traditional classroom setting, it’s definitely possible to teach effectively with only chalk and a chalkboard at the teacher’s disposal. Sound pedagogy, sufficient knowledge of one’s subject, sensitivity to the students’ needs, and a genuine love for one’s work is a simple enough recipe for a teacher’s success. But on a daily basis ready-made materials in the form of a textbook facilitate a teacher’s job and can reinforce or even add depth to a well-done presentation at the board. Carefully crafted activities by other educators can offer the right kind of practice your students need. If a good textbook is available, why not use it and let the students benefit from two resources: you and the book?
Likewise, technology that allows us to use media such as audio CDs, DVDs, digital slide presentations, and online interactive exercises can increase the effectiveness of our classroom teaching. We must be open to new ways of providing instruction. This doesn’t mean that all old ways must be replaced, but we do need to reflect and examine the old alongside the new. Then we consider the possibility of modifying and updating our approach. If technology is available, how can we ignore it and still fulfill our professional obligation to continually develop and perfect our craft? At the very least, shouldn’t we test the technology out and see how it might facilitate our teaching and our students’ learning?
I should clarify that I’m arguing in favor of technology being used both in and outside the classroom. The full instructional potential of multimedia isn’t reached when it’s limited to self-study resources in a school lab. Teachers should ideally have access to different forms of technology in their classrooms and should be trained to use it.
A final argument for the use of technology in language instruction is tied to the growing use of technology worldwide. The number of people who are computer literate and able to use electronic devices is on the rise, not the decline. Children in many countries are exposed to computers even before their first day of school. Thousands of teenagers around the globe cannot imagine life without online social networking sites. Students at more and more universities are receiving course information and turning in coursework over the Internet. In the Digital Age, we need to convey information to our students in a form that is familiar to them. Instruction without technology may seem very one-dimensional to learners who have become used to processing information embedded in rich digital contexts.