The language lab provides all students, no matter where they are seated in the room, equal opportunity to hear the instructor and to be heard by the instructor. Each student can listen to the lesson material at a level set by themselves for their own comfort. None of the lesson material is misheard due to the direct nature of the sound transmission heard by each student via his or her individual headset.
The headset/microphone provides students with a psychological privacy that promotes their speaking ability. It reduces the inhibitions felt in normal classroom situations and encourages the shy student to speak. The instructor can speak to a single or group of students in privacy without disturbing the rest of the class.
The use of a language learning system encourages students to talk freely and lose their inhibitions when talking in front of their peers. Lab systems tend to make students more anonymous.
As the language lab allows the student to listen to the program stimulus individually, each individual student’s attention is focused on the program material being studied, ultimately increasing the attention span of the student and teaching the student to listen and analyze the content of the lesson.
Labs provide the capability for dividing the class into several groups. These groups can be listening to different programs on varying subject matter and at different levels of interactivity.
DEVELOPING LISTENING SKILLS
Listening skills are an essential element in becoming linguistically fluent. The language lab helps students develop good listening skills and aids the process of communication. Students hear the correct language patterns all the time through their headsets instead of mimicking other students who may be pronouncing incorrectly.
The students may work through the lesson material at a pace suited to their ability. The lab is for them a personal tutor.
NATIVE SPEAKER/DIFFERENT VOICES
The lab provides the students with a variety of model voices rather than just the voice of the teacher (who is often not a native speaker). All modern systems have a Model Voice feature allowing a native speaker to converse and be used as a model voice subject for the rest of the class.
Students become excited when using learning lab systems. The student’s attention is heightened and the boredom of repetitive learning is lifted. Students will complain if the lab lesson is canceled due to public holidays, etc.
The teacher can monitor individual students (and talk to them) much more efficiently than in a regular classroom. Usually in a regular classroom all other students stop speaking when the teacher communicates with an individual student. In a lab they will continue working without interruption. Also, a teacher can interact with many more students since he/she merely presses a mouse key or touches a button in order to be in contact with a student. The language lab makes most efficient use of time, improving the teacher/student time ratio and allowing the instructor to maximize the use of time in a given lesson. In a single teaching session, individual students can have more opportunity to speak than during an entire semester in an average class of 30 students.
The language lab provides variety from regular classroom situations. The teacher’s role is changed and the students are more active for longer periods of time. The use of visual stimulus coupled with selective audio materials increases the attention span of the students.
The instructor can improve the discipline of the class by privately conversing with individual students who are being objectionable. By utilizing a system of seat management, any equipment faults or acts of minor vandalism can be reported by the next student entering the booth. If not reported by the student, they become the target of the investigation when the next student enters the booth. Students have great difficulty talking to each other when wearing headsets (unless they are in pair or group conference mode).
The students have the ability to record their own voices along with the master stimulus. Each student can be working interactively on different segments within the same program or be working with completely different program material.
SIMPLIFY RECORD KEEPING
The instructor can easily generate records of attendance, grading and oral responses to true/false or multiple choice taped tests. An automated record keeping process can save much time.
Oral test features allow instructors to test students with a question or stimulus and only record the student’s answer. Instructors can then play back the recorded answers at a later time for grading, without having to listen to the questions.
Since the teacher is not concentrating on producing the next question or drill, he/she can concentrate more on the student responses. The instructor has more time to produce materials and oversee class activities due to the automatically, rather than manually, controlled instructor console features.
ROLE PLAYING EXERCISES
Using the random pairing/random grouping feature that all advanced modern learning systems incorporate, instructors can generate a variety of exercises structured around role-playing. Students can be paired or grouped together in small numbers and hold conversational practice with each other. Due to the random selection of student partners the students interest level is always high in anticipation of who their paired partner is likely to be. The instructor can also allow the students to listen to a stimulus from the console allowing the students to practice with each other while responding to the master stimulus.
BUILDING STUDENT EXPERIENCE
Students can build on their existing experiences and gain further knowledge of computers while learning in the computer language lab. Practicing with systems, software and new applications enhances exportable skills. The more experience students have with computer technology, the more successful they will be in the “real world”.
The new generation of multimedia systems allows the students to be connected to the World Wide Web and to be able to access information on a global basis. This allows instantaneous access to information worldwide and communication in the following ways:
- Viewing English and target language web sites.
- Person-to-person communication through email, chat rooms, internet phone, etc.
- Student-to-student video conferencing with local and foreign classes.
- Direct communication with other students from their country and culture of study.
- Access to foreign literature and museums for research and study.
- Watching live TV broadcasts and listening to foreign radio broadcasts.
ACCESS DIGITAL STORAGE
The students can access digitally stored programs, exercises and tests that can be completed at their own pace and at a time they decide is appropriate.