Friday, 28 August 2009

ARTICLE REVIEW - Task 2 (10%)



(a) Title : Using Technology to Help ESL/ EFL Students Develop Language Skills

(b) Journal : The Internet TESL Journal, Vol. IX, No. 3, March 2003

(c) Authors' name :

1) Renee Ybarra, C.C. Lambert Elementary (Tustin, California, USA)
Rybarra7 [at]

2) Tim Green, California State University (Fullerton, California, USA)
tgreen [at] or " >">


In essence, the authors of this journal article posit that computers can be used as a constructive tool to help the English language learners (ELL) develop their language skills as well as to supply them with meaningful language experiences. This article enlightens the advantages of utilizing computer-assisted instruction (CAI) with English language learners. Based on the various research findings put forward by the authors, the following benefits are evident in improving vital language skills such as verbal interaction, vocabulary development, reading and writing. Liaw (1997) conducted a study where computer books were used. These computer books are interactive stories which appear on the computer screen as an actual book with text and illustrations. Students may opt from the different alternatives to read the story which include real voices that read aloud, music and sound effects. Readers manage to follow along since the texts are highlighted. Liaw (1997) analyzed the types of speech they used with each other and found out that they engaged in various modes of language functions. Additionally, the quality of the talk was not omitted. Liaw (1997) measured the amount of computer related talk and story related talk. Though initially, there was a lot of computer related talk, however students later become engaged with more story related talk as they become more familiar with the software and format of the stories. Therefore, the study concluded that computers do assist ELL to develop their language functions. Besides that, computers can also be used to facilitate English beginners to develop their vocabulary. Kang & Dennis (1995) conducted a study in Seoul, Korea on 5th grade students. The studies were definitions, picture & context. They were assigned to three groups wherein the 1st group learn English vocabularies with the aid of definition written in Korean (merely rote memorization), the 2nd group was given definitions as well as pictures, and the 3rd group was given a situational context exploiting the English words followed by definion & pictures. Though primarily the 1st and 2nd group scored higher than the 3rd group, subsequently, after a few sessions, in testing their retention, the 3rd group significantly surpassed those of the first two groups. Kang & Dennis (1995) concluded that the "context" group subjects require more time and ultimately, the contextual approach is unmistakably proven to be much more effective in promoting meaningful long-term recall of vocabulary. Apart from that, CAI also increases interaction with texts, attention to individual needs, and increased independence through an ability to read texts they would not otherwise be able to read" (Case & Truscott, 1999). Landerholm, Karr, and Munshi (2000) created a three year program wherein one child in the program read nearly 300 books in one year (Landerholm, et al. 2000). Last but not least, computers can help ELL develop their writing skills where Trenchs (1996) ultimately discovered electronic mail complements the classroom curriculum. The students are self-motivated to use their new language in an unfamiliar but creative way. The major benefit of using e-mail as a language learning activity is students exercise meaningful language learning & authentic text.


In my book, the findings documented in this article do extensively interest me since I am a technology enthusiast myself. In fact, personally, I think it is fairly alright to make use of the technology to facilitate the teaching and learning of ESL in Malaysian context as we could never adjust to the present way of teaching and learning English. Since this journal article has affirmed through various studies that the benefits of using technology to develop learners’ language skills are evident, I think that it is possible to utilize the technology in Malaysian classrooms. The tools will aide teachers in such a way that the teaching and learning process will become much easier and time saving. As stated by the authors, the technology does not only facilitate learners in core academic subjects such as reading and writing but also in improving their vocabulary and verbal language development. Employing technology in the teaching and learning of ESL will make the processes become much more interesting because most students nowadays are bored with books. Therefore, if computer books are utilized, they will become more fascinated to learn English language. Ultimately, I find that this article is well written since the article reveals tremendous results which are important first steps as well as guidelines in ensuring the teaching and learning of ESL in Malaysian contexts become more efficient.