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Audio-Visual resources 5: Language laboratory

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Audio-visual resources 5 Language laboratory A language laboratory or lab is basically a room designed for learning foreign languages and equipped with tape recorders, video cassette recorders, or computers connected to monitoring devices enabling the teacher or instructor to listen and speak to the students individually or as a group. The structuralist and behaviourist theories behind the audio-lingual and audio-visual approaches held that students became speakers of the target language by learning discreet linguistic units. These units could be mastered through the mechanical process of repetitive drills. The language lab provided an ideal tool for guided repetition, substitution, and transformation exercises or drills. The exercise known as pattern practice is also a drill which exercises some aspect of grammar or sentence formation. The rejection of the language lab (the pre-eminent technology in language instruction) in the 1980s was the result of its close relation to audio-lingual and audio-visual methodologies, which labs were originally intended to support. The theoretical bases of audiolingualism were questioned by Carroll and Rivers, among others, as early as 1964, and there was a prolonged and heated debate on it between 1966 and 1972. The loss of popularity of these approaches, as Ellis (1990) points out, is due to the poor results obtained by students, unable to transfer skills to real communication outside the lab. These results were ridiculed, for example, by Newmark (1966) who tells of a ‘structurally’ competent but ‘communicatively’ incompetent person when addressing a stranger to ask for a light in the following terms: "do you have fire?", "do you have illumination?", "are you a match's owner?". A device for boredom, as it was considered by critics, the language lab came to be seen as a relic with no merit in today's language acquisition theories where the main objective is communicative fluency rather than linguistic accuracy. The language laboratory is now experiencing a re-evaluation by teachers for its potential as an instructional tool. The keyword for this revival is interactivity. The integration of interactive learning through the use of the language laboratory is associated to CALL (Computer Assisted Language Learning) and to task-based activities, both of them look at the computer as a tool that requires teacher direction in creating situations in which the students utilise the target language to attain some non-language-related objective. The language lab can serve as an invaluable tool in the language learning and teaching process, for it provides opportunities for learning that cannot be duplicated in the classroom.

Video Details

Duration: 3 minutes and 34 seconds
Country: Spain
Language: English
Producer: Manuel Pérez Gutiérrez
Director: Manuel Pérez Gutiérrez
Views: 238
Posted by: mapegu on Dec 18, 2008

A language laboratory or lab is basically a room designed for learning foreign languages and equipped with tape recorders, video cassette recorders, or computers connected to monitoring devices enabling the teacher or instructor to listen and speak to the students individually or as a group. A device for boredom, as it was considered by critics, the language lab came to be seen as a relic with no merit in today's language acquisition theories where the main objective is communicative fluency rather than linguistic accuracy. The language laboratory is now experiencing a re-evaluation by teachers for its potential as an instructional tool. The keyword for this revival is interactivity.

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