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Back Next Contents THE WORLD WIDE WEB AND ITS CONTRIBUTION TO FOREIGN LANGUAGE LEARNING

6. CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Learners in this study claimed to use the World Wide Web for a number of purposes related to language learning, but in practice the majority were simply using it as an up-to-date library for gathering information. Many lacked the necessary technical, research and linguistic skills, or appropriate learning strategies, either to explore its resources or to use these for language learning. There is therefore much to be done by both language teachers and researchers if we are to exploit the potential riches of computer-based resources like the Web.

Teachers need to work more closely with students in the computer laboratory or self-access centre, observing and supporting their activity, providing training, raising their awareness of strategic learning processes, and enabling them to become autonomous, competent and confident learners. To get them working efficiently, teachers need to provide more structured starting points on their local Web interface, such as lists of Web addresses organised into language or content-focused categories, or hints for refining searches. And they need to integrate the use of the Web more closely with taught courses and with the learning purposes of their students.

This pedagogical activity must be underpinned by research and theory. In our case, we have referred to a particular framework which involves the relationship between discussion, interaction, adaptation and reflection in effective learning (see 3.2). It is unclear, however, whether our students will be able to engage effectively with the Web in these terms. As regards this and other models, continuing careful investigation is needed of the interactions between the design of the resources, the learning activity and the learners’ behaviours. This report emphasises the importance of involving teachers in developing and understanding this kind of theoretical work, so that we can link language learning into the tremendous opportunities offered by networked access to multilingual information and learning resources worldwide.

Southampton
May 1996
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