I couldn’t put this better. There is no reason why a teacher should use flashy, shiny, modern technology just for the sake of using technology. I believe ed tech should only be used when it greatly outperforms other types of learning activities. By "greatly" I mean, for example, increasing long-term vocabulary retention three times with under 3 minutes of extra time commitment per day (as reported in this paper
about Linguatorium Lexis
How can such effectiveness be attained? In my experience, the two main engineering principles behind effective computer-assisted language learning tools are adaptivity
(i.e. they provide personalized learning experiences based on individual student’s needs) and scalability
(i.e. they reduce the time teachers need to spend creating instructional materials). Effective tools will often leverage natural language processing (NLP), real-time measurement of learner behavior, and learner modeling to create pedagogical interventions that would be impossible without these technologies.
Take, for another instance, second-language phonological perception (the ability to distinguish individual sounds/phonemes), which is the essential foundation of oral communicative ability. Research
is unanimous that the best available method for teaching phonological perception is High-Variability Phonetic Training (HVPT). However, it is plainly impossible to implement this method without technology. Thus, the use of an HVPT tool, such as the English Accent Coach
or Linguatorium Auris
, is warranted in any ESL classroom.
In sum, unlike a content class (such as Intro to Linguistics I brought up above) that may prioritize declarative knowledge, an ESL classroom is geared towards acquiring fluent language skills, which requires a lot of practice. For this context, technology is often appropriate and even needed — as long as it’s selected with care and discretion.