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Journal of Emerging Trends in Engineering and Applied Sciences (JETEAS) 3(4) 677-681 (ISSN: 2141-7016)
677


ESL/EFL, Technology and Moti vation: The Turkish Case

Irfan Tosuncuoglu

Karabuk University
___________________________________________________________________________
Abstract
This study will examine how technology has influenced both students and teachers and how it can be applied in
the classroom to motivate students. The evolution of computer-assisted learning and the electronic classroomat
this current stage provides educators with a number of new ways to disseminate knowledge and thus better
manage student learning. Indeed, universities everywhere as a result are putting pressure on teachers to employ
computers in their teaching as much as possible. Some are embracing the new methodology, whereas others
consider it to be either a threat or waste of energy. However, it is clear that computers are not only here to stay,
but the mediumof a new generation, leaving educators with little choice but to embrace the computer age,
technology, the Internet, and multimedia as adding to, rather than taking away fromthe traditional textbook
approach of the past and in hopes of motivating students. In this study, examples of how technology can
complement traditional delivery will be given. What soon becomes clear is that teachers must be willing to find
new technology-assisted ways to deliver content and interact with students. Just ten or fifteen years ago, no one
predicted that computers would play such an important role in the classroom. Five years fromnow, computer
technologies will become so commonplace that the implementation of technology in the classroomwill rise to
unheard of new levels. Suffice it to say that teachers can ill afford to be left behind in what is clearly a
revolution in teaching and learning strategies.
__________________________________________________________________________________________
Keywords: English teaching, software, institution, motivation
__________________________________________________________________________________________
INTRODUCTION
Learning a foreign language enables students to
relate to other cultures, expand their employment and
witnessing opportunities, and sharpen skills in their
own language. Many students, however, are not
motivated to learn because of boredom—too often a
facet of the foreign language classroom. For this
reason, foreign language teachers must attempt to
motivate students to learn, using a variety of creative
and engaging approaches. The key to an enjoyable
experience for both teachers and students is an
approach that involves more student involvement.
The principal job of teachers is to motivate their
students as much as possible to participate in class.
Importantly, computers and related technology can
assist in this, magically changing the way teachers
interact with students and students assimilate
knowledge. What follows, then, are a variety of
pedagogical strategies that employ computers in the
classroomfor teachers everywhere to consider and
begin to implement.

Computer technology is changing the relationship
between teachers and students. Increasingly,
electronic communication and collaboration is being
used to facilitate learning. In light of the
development of computer technology and its
application in the classroom, the teacher-student
relationship has changed dramatically. The foreign
language instructor and learner is a more even
playing field, the job of the teacher to motivate
students as never before. Students are likely to
participate if they are enthused by fresh ideas that
originate with the teacher. Of course, no single
approach works in every case, especially when it
comes to teaching a foreign language. A great deal of
planning and organization is required and using
vocabulary that is appropriate and relevant to the
particular theme in question. Success ultimately
depends on a commitment by the teacher to search
constantly for dynamic, interactive methods.

In 2007, the Turkish Ministry of National Education
initiated a program of computer-assisted learning,
which they called DynEd (Dynamic Education), for
secondary school students grades four through eight.
In 2007, 1111 students participated, the number
increasing dramatically in the years to follow
(www.mbides.meb.gov.tr). However, some
specialists had questions about the new program
which reflected poorly on DynEd as a viable
pedagogical option in Turkey at least. And so, a fresh
approach that attempts to improve upon the past is
the objective. The importance of the study for
scholars in the field is its Turkish setting and what
this may tell us about technology and educational
reform in a relatively new democratic society.

LITERATURE REVIEW
There are still questions about how best to organize
and plan classroomteaching vis-à-vis the need to
motivate students and the role of modern technology
in all of this. Teachers need to share both their
successes and failures in this regard in order that all
Journal of Emerging Trends in Engineering and Applied Sciences (JETEAS) 3 (4): 677-681
©Scholarlink Research Institute Journals, 2012 (ISSN: 2141-7016)
jeteas.scholarlinkresearch.org

Journal of Emerging Trends in Engineering and Applied Sciences (JETEAS) 3(4) 677-681 (ISSN: 2141-7016)
678

may benefit. The first question that teachers need to
address is this: what is the motivation to learn? Of
course, the motivation to learn has a wide range of
meanings and implications. H. Marshall (1987) has
defined “motivation” as a sense of “meaningfulness”
and “value” that comes to be associated with an
“academic task” assigned the learner. Carole Ames
(1990) has qualified the “motivation to learn” as a
“long-term quality of involvement in learning and
commitment to the process of learning.”

In fact, the literature on the application of technology
in the ESL/EFL classroom and employment of a
variety of multimedia is voluminous. The teaching of
English as a second language has changed
dramatically over the years and yet the textbook
approach continues to dominate. The objective
continues to be one of the “accurate” interpretation
of texts rather than enhancing inter-personal
communication per se. The consensus among
scholars of “moti vational techniques in the
classroom” (Brown, 2007) is that conventional
text-based l earning materials are not onl y
boring, but too difficult in most cases.
Moreover, teaching materials and methods in
step with the “information age” is the great
overarching question (Lee, 2009).

Students are too easily distracted and so
learning does not take place. It has never been
more essential that learning become something
that is both fun and engaging for students,
forcing teachers to choose their materials and
methods with care. A variety of teaching
materials, consisting of both traditional print
and the new multimedia electronic podium
(Zhan, 2000) play an important role in the
ESL/EFL classroom in Asia, for example,
underscoring the collaborative possibilities and
advantages of expanding the scope of “teaching
materials” to include multi media. However,
Information Technology (IT) is becoming the
norm (Stempleski, 1987; Mayer, 2001; Plass &
J ones, 2005; Zhuang, 2007; Brown, 2007; Fast,
2010).

One may consider, too, a wealth of pioneering
scholarship on the employment of “authentic
video” in the ESL/EFL classroom vis-à-vis its
intrinsic motivational potential. What has been
described as “an authentic look within a
culture” is also possible, facilitating
“comprehension and giv [ing] students practice
in dealing with [the new] medium”
(Stempleski, 1987: p.3; Secules, 1992;
Katchen, 1996; Erwin, 2001; Eken, 2003;
Flowerdrew & Miller, 2005; Lee, 2009).
Huifen and Dwyer (2010) underscore the
advantages of mul timedia in the assimilation of
a foreign language and culture vis-à-vis static
visualization synonymous with the traditional
textbook approach. Indeed, audio-visuals are
more likely to keep students focused on the
task at hand and more effectively than print
(Lee, 2009). Erwin (2001) contends that digital
data is easier to access, that is to say, key
words and sentence patterns that students may
find difficult can be located with greater ease
and thus facilitate learning and increase
motivation.

METHODOLOGY
Students are often propelled by curiosity and fueled
by their need to explore, interact with, and make
sense of their environment. Unfortunately, as
children grow, their passion for learning can wane
as it becomes a drudgery instead of a delight.
Socrates, the famous Greek philosopher, is famous
for predicating the acquisition of wisdom on
possessing an interminable sense of wonder. Too
many students of the Information Age are physically
present in the classroombut mentally absent, failing
to learn as a consequence. A lack of motivation is
often the problem and increased student
participation in the learning process the answer.

Motivation to learn is a combination of desire,
values, and beliefs which, in turn, drive one to take
action. These three motivating factors are why most
people behave as they do. For this reason,
motivation is deeply personal. But if given a reason
to be, realistic set of goals, and institutional
environment conducive to learning, the chances of a
positive learning outcome are greatly increased. If
one lacks motivation, the following paradigm
should correct the problem: (i) identifying one’s
values, beliefs, and desires; (ii) recognizing one’s
strengths and weaknesses and using this information
to establish realistic and/or achievable goals; (iii)
understanding the role one’s personal circumstances
plays; and (iv) being prepared for a learning
outcome vis-à-vis the aforementioned mitigating
factors.

Finally, motivation is a factor of what matters to
students and for whatever reason they consider to be
important. At the heart of this paper is a simple
acknowledgment that technologies, computers and,
multimedia all have something to add to the
classroom. Fortunately, computer technology and
literacy are on the rise and the Internet and
multimedia familiar to most teachers and students.
The more innovative universities are also taking
steps to employ this new mediumin order to take
communication between teachers and students to the
next pedagogical level. This study looks at how
such global trends in ESL/EFL education can—or
ought to be—applied in the Turkish post-secondary,
educational context.


Journal of Emerging Trends in Engineering and Applied Sciences (JETEAS) 3(4) 677-681 (ISSN: 2141-7016)
679

THE FIELD STUDY PERAMETERS
In 2009-2010, a two-month-long study was
conducted of “Reading, Listening, Speaking, and
Phonetics” using a newly equipped, multimedia
classroomand/or electronic podium. The objective
was to observe and measure the ease or lack thereof
with which teachers and students adapted to their
new electronic environs. The effects of a computer-
equipped classroom on patterns of linguistic
behavior was another consideration vis-à-vis the
present contention in scholarly circles (already
mentioned) that a multimedia, computer-assisted
learning environment is likely to foster a more
meaningful and student-centered approach to the
mastery of a foreign language vis-à-vis this
collaborative, social, and interactive approach. The
geography of the computer-assisted, multimedia
classroom, it was found, gave impetus to more face-
to-face, one-on-one, student-teacher interaction.

The electronic classroom in question was equipped
with twenty (20) computers, two (2) laser printers,
and a folding table for group discussion. There was
not a projection screen, but a teacher’s station instead
and designed to monitor students and, of course,
screen Internet content when necessary. In fact, the
lack of a projection screen in this electronic
classroomwas purposive and meant to force teachers
to interact with students on a more personal level.
Every computer station had its own set of
headphones through which students received the
assignment for that day and how students and
teachers communicated with one another. Each
lesson lasted two (2) hours and consisted of a variety
of timed assignments on “Reading, Listening,
Speaking, and Phonetics.” Teachers had a great deal
of freedom and a number of delivery methods from
which to choose which might be purely verbal and/or
visual. Students were also free to complete their
assignments electronically and with a minimumof
guidance, depending on their need or lack thereof of
the same. Listening and repetition, as these pertained
to the lesson plan for any given day, were left to the
discretion of students and teachers alike. Progress
toward the mastery of a foreign language, using this
approach, depending largely on the lesson plan and
its ability to make effective use of learning materials
and class time.

LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
The study is not without certain limitations: sample
size (number of students) and length of study (two
months). A larger and more variegated student
sample is certain to provide a more nuanced data set.
Related to this, class and gender were not considered
or factored into the equation. The study does not
address the issue of gendered learning, for
example—to what degree technology in the
classroomand electronic-assisted learning favors a
particular gender, whether boys or girls react more or
less favorably. Moreover, the urban-rural divide is
not a consideration and thus another limitation of the
study. The object of this study, in short, is a broad
discussion of a number of generalized pedagogical
strategies, to be tailored to the needs of a variety of
cultural settings and worthy of future research and
refinement.

What follows, then, are some of the more successful
strategies and organizing pedagogical principles that
we observed and recommend to readers.

 Imitation and Short-Term Memory Exercises
Practice makes perfect and, in this case, imitation is
crucial to the study and mastery of any foreign
language. In the case of the electronic classroom,
repetitive exercises tailored to short-term memory
and memorization of speech patterns could be
modeled visually as well as acoustically by the
teacher in a number of ways. In general, imitation
begins with a target phoneme repeated in isolation or
poly-syllabically, a repetitive exercise in which
students master a progressive set of consonants and
vowels in isolation and pairs. The role of the teacher
is that of participant-observer-adjudicator and thus
assisting students as their mastery of target
phonemes moves logically from a state of “absent”
and “emerging” and then, finally, to one of pure
“mastery.”
 Reading Aloud and Pronunciation
The electronic classroomis also conducive to a more
effective use of reading aloud in class and done with
the assistance of headphones. Students can read
aloud and then listen to the text in question as many
times as they feel necessary, repeating it to
themselves without interrupting their fellow students.
When reciting texts, some phonemes are certain to be
omitted. Or the recitation may lack the necessary
phonetic polish at first and despite a written text and
myriad alphabetical clues to the correct
pronunciation. In the electronic classroom, students
can listen once again, and serveral times if necessary,
and correct their mistakes with minimal supervision
and disruption as mentioned.
 Long-Term Memory and Meaningful
Language
Imitation and short-term memory exercises are
designed to improve pronunciation and fluidity.
However, a long-termmemory approach is required
vis-à-vis patterns of speech that need to be recalled
and reproduced in a meaningful and nuanced
language context. Long-term memory bridges the gap
between mere imitation or reading aloud and a
meaningful or true understanding of a foreign
language. In the electronic classroom, the enhancing
of long-term memory speaking skills can employ a
number of approaches. For example, the teacher may
communicate a word or phrase to a single student and
then invite the student to demonstrate the assignment
for one or more students in the classroom as seems

Journal of Emerging Trends in Engineering and Applied Sciences (JETEAS) 3(4) 677-681 (ISSN: 2141-7016)
680

appropriate. Or, the teacher may choose to work with
a single student, asking themto read aloud the phrase
in question and then repeat it to the teacher from
memory before being called to do this for the entire
class. Such an approach, and the advantages of an
electronic classroom, allow the teacher to devote
more time to individual students, helping them to
produce longer and more complicated phraseology as
they work toward a mastery of the foreign language
in question. In this case, the objective is oral-aural
mastery, and so students are not required to recode
the spoken language but recall what they hear.
 Toward a Purposeful, Prompted
Response
The aforementioned listening and speaking exercises
are designed to help students master vocabulary and
grammatical structures, providing students with a
greater chance to practice out loud, and with more
guidance fromthe teacher, acquire a greater facility
in the spoken language per se. At this point, and
because the electronic classroomallows for a more
meaningful and effective student-teacher interaction,
the ability to formulate meaningful answers to real-
life questions is the next logical step.
 The Prompted Answer
A well-constructed, prompted answer to a question in
a foreign language is no mean feat. ESL/EFL is
almost entirely an exercise in the art of the
interrogatory. A good answer involves a number of
linguistic skills and decisions vis-à-vis vocabulary,
grammar, syntax, rhythm, meter, and tone. When
care is not taken, or students lack the necessary skill
set, answers to questions often give impetus to more
questions than answers. Again, because the electronic
classroomallows teachers to spend more quality time
with students, students have more opportunities to
bridge the gap that separates a thoughtful and
articulate rejoinder from a response that is clearly the
fruit of rote memorization and completely lacking
understanding or nuance. More often than not,
memorized answers are not even executed with any
real precision, making them all the more problematic
to native speakers whose eyes and ears know a fraud
when they hear and see it. No ESL/EFL teacher
wants this for their students.
 Toward Initiated Spontaneous Speech
One very good measure of the mastery of a foreign
language is spontaneity. It follows from an attention
to greater fluidity which follows, in turn, from
imitation. Spontaneous speech, in essence, is the
ability to transcend the mechanics of memorized
speech patterns and scripted dialogue, requiring true
understanding or full comprehension. In this case,
and again taking advantage of the electronic
classroomas a teaching environment that allows for
high levels of individual and group interaction, at the
stage teachers might be said to earn their money.
Assignments that lead inexorably to spontaneous
speech are essential, building on what has gone
before without being merely imitative. Attention to
content and the employment of pragmatic language
are crucial if mere imitation and rote memorization
are to be avoided. The degree to which students can
speak with fluidity and spontaneity is not simply an
indication of their mastery of English as a foreign
language, but the quality of teaching to which they
have been exposed. In short, the axiom, “there are no
bad students, only bad teachers” still applies. In some
ways it has never been truer, the electronic classroom
deserving of our serious attention as teachers
throughout the world grapple with the pros and cons
of the Information Age.

The Student Response
In general, students found that computers in the
classroomhelped themto stay motivated, “machines
in the classroom” viewed as a kind of “magical
presence.” Students reported that working at a
computer station in collaboration with the teacher
and fellow students was a liberating experience
which gave them a strong sense of independence,
personal responsibility, and a “feeling of success.”
Computer-assisted learning helped them to stay on
task, taking away from the tedium of vocabulary,
phonetics, and grammar by bringing themto life in a
very practical and scientific way. The feeling among
students was that a computer lab added to the
professionalism of the classroomand their respect
for the teacher and fellow students.

CONCLUSION
This study has examined some of the ways
technology can motivate both students and teachers
to work harder and more collaboratively in the
mastery of a foreign language. Because of the central
role of technology in our post-modern society,
educators are faced with a multitude of new ways to
disseminate knowledge and manage student learning.
Increasingly, universities find themselves under
pressure to offer students the option of computer-
assisted learning in and out of the classroom.
Whereas many in the teaching profession, and
ESL/EFL teachers in particular, have embraced the
new technology and its concomitant interactive
pedagogy, some are still reluctant to depart from the
more tradition, text-based and teacher-centered
methods. However, as this study of one electronic
classroomin Turkey found, the electronic classroom
and traditional textbook and chalkboard are not
mutually exclusive. In fact, there is much to suggest
that technology is the best solution to the problem of
students who seemphysically present but suffer from
a kind of intellect absenteeism. For all those teachers
who complain about students who surf the Internet
on their cell phones as teachers attempt in vain to
lecture themon the fineries of English grammar, the
electronic classroom provides a solution worthy of
serious consideration. “If you can’t beat them,” as
the saying goes, it really does seemadvisable in this
case, “to join them.”

Journal of Emerging Trends in Engineering and Applied Sciences (JETEAS) 3(4) 677-681 (ISSN: 2141-7016)
681

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