Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Entry 7 IDT1415 Reflections on Blake's SLA, Language Teaching and Technology

What is your experience with respect to the four myths about technology discussed by Blake?

The resounding idea throughout the chapter is that of 'interaction' and how this interaction is at the heart of SLA because it is social and natural, which is also supported by Revees and Nass's (1996:5 in Blake 2008) research.  Increased exposure to target language through social interaction is claimed to be the way to speed up SLA so the question posed is how this can be done efficiently and the role technology can play when used wisely. Blake states that tools are 'for the most part methodologically neutral', but that applied linguists disagree because of the affordances they provide (Zhao et al. 2005; Levy 2006:13-15 in Blake 2008:3). He then advises that technology integration should follow a theoretical model (CALL) which makes me immediately think of Mishra and Koehler's TPCK framework or Puentedura's SAMR Model thus allowing for the alignment of SLA theory and practice in different but similar ways.

An important social aspect Blake (p.4) alludes to is the fact that unless we provide decision makers with positive evidence of the positive effects of what informed tech integration can offer second language learning then the support needed will be wanting. To this extent Swaffar (1998 in op.cit.) summarises the benefits of CMC as allowing individuals to 'engage more frequently, with greater confidence and greater enthusiasm in the communicative process...' Again, interaction being the crux of language learning and in line with Kramsch's (1993 in op.cit.) work when he says that SLA is more than acquiring skills and using such skills effectively, but that it also has to do with culture. It seems then obvious that through scaffolded interaction with others learners become more linguistically and culturally aware.

I found interesting Blake's claim that reluctance to the integration of technology today is a consequence of the 'failed promises of the audio-lingual lab of the 1960s' as I wonder how many people outside scholarly circles would be aware of this. However, I do agree with him that, in my own experience, this ca be attributed more to the fact that people do not really know what technology 'means for L2 learning'.

As regards the four myths about Tech and SLA, there are key terms and concepts in each section which immediately captured my attention. In 'Technology is Monolithic': know how, rapidly changing, CMC and scaffolding and L2 input quality made me think about how these have affected in one way or the other my own professional development and that of those under my aegis. As for 'Technology constitutes a Methodology': leap between theory and practice, favorable conditions for L2 learning, tech culture of practice is not neutral, repetition, automaticity, accuracy, and pedagogical planning simply reaffirmed the concepts and ideas we have all mentioned in our posts recently which is reassuring as they are based on sound assumptions regarding our pedagogical beliefs. In 'Technology is all we need': constant change, and technology as a catalyst for change brought back recent memories of trainees and colleagues complaining about this constant change and how frustrating it can be trying to catch up. This is why it is essential to develop a critical and selective approach so that we can filter what is useful to us in our own context and discard the rest. Finally, in 'Technology will Replace Teachers': complement teaching not threaten, and teachers who use technology will probably replace those who do not (Clifford 1987:13 in op.cit.). I could not agree more as more often than not in my position as a recruiter for the institution I work for, I often make decisions based on the above. I have also been asked extensively at job interviews about this.

Finally, 'noticing' also seems to be a recurrent concept in the discussion of SLA theories from Chomsky, to Krashen to Swain as well as how explicit instruction enables this noticing and how technology can support this.


Blake, R. J. 2008 Brave New Digital Classroom: Technology and Foreign Language Teaching. Georgetown, University Press. Online at [accessed: October 4, 2014]

Mishra, P. and Koehler, M.J. 2006 'Technological pedagogical content knowledge: a framework for teacher knowledge', Teachers College Record, 108(6), 1017-54.

Puentedura, R. R. 2006. 'Transformation, Technology, and Education'. Online at: [accessed: October 3, 2014]

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