This article addressed some problems in the learning of foreign language in Southeast Asia and reported some tools to resolve these issues. According to the author, the major problems of language learning in SE Asia are as follows: (1) the force-fed pedagogy, (2) teaching to the exam, (3) imitative practices. He claimed that “”An unhappy outcome is that many students spend the bulk of their education memorizing formulae easily parroted in examinations, but inadequate for life outside the classroom.”.
In order to address these issues, the author introduced four different online tools. 1. Targeting Oral Fluency: Asynchronous Voice Messaging; 2. Online Data-driven Language Learning; 3. Providing Feedback on Student Writing; 4. Online Role Plays. The Targeting Oral Fluency aims to facilitate and motivate L2 speech by enabling students to hold conversations via the Web and by making it easy for teachers to promote and monitor these conversations. In this tool, students are required to hold and record conversations regularly while teachers leave recorded messages to encourage discussions or elicit responses that focus on specific skills such as pronunciation. The Online Data-driven Language Learning is base on a discovery-based lexical lookup tool called Word Neighbors, which “allows the lookup of immediate contexts of any selected word or phrase in various large corpora from a right-mouse button context menu”. There are several activities proofreading activities, gap fill activity and crossword activity. Providing Feedback on Student Writing is conducted with an extensive online grammar/writing guide and a marking tool which teachers can use to insert comments in student’s electronic documents. The process is as follows: Process: 1. Students submits their documents to a Web page “drop box” 2.Teachers retrieve the documents, insert pre-defined and individualized comments. 3. Teachers post the documents back to the Web. Online Role Plays aims at motivating the creative use of language through the scripting of spoken English. It made use of a scripting tool which allows students to create animated role plays online. Students manipulate characters on screen, assign them movements and gestures and write dialogue that is synthesized and “spoken” by the characters, whose mouths move to match the dialogue.
As a student coming from mainland China, I have experienced the problems author addressed in this article. I believe the approaches he provided can help to solve these problems and enhance the learning autonomy among students. These tools allow students and teachers take advantage of the new technologies and encourage independent and life-long learning of different levels of learners. However, these tools require cut-edge technologies which are not applicable in some rural areas and it alter the traditional role of teachers, which will become a challenge in many learning contexts.