From Parrots to Puppet Masters: Fostering Creative and Authentic Language Use with Online Tools

In this article, at the beginning, Milton points out that the problems in teaching foreign language that students are spoon-fed by teachers, they spend a lot of time on memorizing formulae in examinations, but they don’t gain any learning experience outside the classroom because of low motivation. As a result, the author suggests many ways to assist teachers to create engaging and meaningful learning activities.

 1.      Targeting Oral Fluency: Asynchronous Voice Messaging

It’s an opportunity for students to use L2 in their daily lives. This system motivates students and increased their confidence to use L2 by holding conversations via Web, meanwhile, it’s easier for teachers to promote and monitor their conversations. Teachers can leave recorded messages to encourage discussions and they can elicit responses that focus on specific skills such as pronunciation and intonation.

 2.      Online Data-driven Language Learning: Word Neighbors + Mark My Words

Word Neighbors is a discovery-based lexical lookup tool for students to look up words in certain contexts in order to enhance their proofreading skills and vocabulary acquisition. Mark My Word is a tool for teachers to provide feedback on students’ writing.

 3.      Online Role Plays

The author designed a scripting tool which allows students to create and publish their scripts online. This role-play activity enables students to work collaboratively at a distance. Moreover, it’s a great opportunity for students who are shy to speak to practice the language in this context.

I found the Word Neighbors is quite user-friendly and enables students to learn vocabulary autonomously. I would like to recommend this useful tool to my students. On one hand, students can understand the meaning of the word because this system has access to online dictionaries, encyclopedias, etc. On the other hand, students can memorize the words more effectively from the context since they realize the usage of the words. 

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3 thoughts on “From Parrots to Puppet Masters: Fostering Creative and Authentic Language Use with Online Tools

  1. Thank you for sharing the summary of the article. I think all the 4 online tools can benefit the learners and I’d like to recommend them to the students as well! I agree with you that Word Neighbors can facilitate the students’ vocabulary learning. But do you think the students might rely on it too much and simply use it to revise their assignment?

  2. Thanks for your reply. You’re right, it may be the problem I need to pay attention to. However, if students are willing to use this tool to revise their assignment, I would be happy because it means that they start to be more aware of their work and it encourages learner autonomy.

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