Technology has become an important part of our lives. Learners use technology everyday as part of their lives, yet education in general, and second language (L2) teaching in particular sometimes chooses to ignore the new trends and impose the old approaches. It has been argued that “technological literacy is an essential component of the language acquisition strategic toolbox” (Robin, 2007:109). Teachers are able to effectively increase and diverse their input by means of unlimited resources such as podcasts, videos, captions, dictionaries, etc…
It has been suggested that the three main reasons for using technology in L2-teaching are motivation, interactivity and feedback (Sharma and Barret, 2007). Moreover, these tools can contribute to make learners considerably more autonomous, it saves some crucial time and money and it brings current, up-to-date materials to the classroom.
However, as Norman (2004 cited in Rost, 2007:102) points out, for a new technology to be used effectively in the classroom it must be “intuitively helpful and elegantly efficient”. In other words, it is crucial that it help us improve teaching standards. In addition, teachers need to take into account every learner and their different needs, therefore it has been observed that applying “blended learning” (Sharma and Barrett, 2007), a mixture of different styles of learning, may be desirable.
This essay will examine two web based tools: http://audioboo.fm/ and http://sync.in/. Firstly it will outline what the tools can do in basic terms. Then this essay will explain how to use Audioboo and Sync.in within a learning environment and how it would benefit students of L2.
Figure 1: Audioboo.fm
Audioboo is a very useful and easy-to-use platform that allows us to record audio and share it with other users. To be able to record it is necessary to sign up. The free plan permits recordings of up to 3 minutes, while the paying plan allows 30 minutes. This platform can be web or mobile based. Users can share audio-recordings directly with other users of Audioboo or through email, blogs and social networks (see figure 3).
Firstly, it is necessary to analyse the use of a tool like Audioboo to practice listening and production skills. Listening skills have been neglected in L2 instruction in the past, and consider by many as a “receptive” or “passive” skill. It has often been claimed that, despite being still one of the less known language processes, listening comprehension is in fact the most used skill in every-day communication (around 40% of the time) (Kavaliauskienė, 2008). “We listen considerably more than we read, write, or speak” (LeLoup and Ponterio, 2007). Nowadays listening comprehension is beginning to be considered an essential point of communication (LeLoup and Ponterio, 2007) and materials have changed from scripted unrealistic dialogues to authentic audio and video (Robin, 2007).
New technologies have improved the experience of listening,...