Home > About Us > Why Renet > Top Ten Reasons
Our Solutions
Top Ten Reasons

The Top Ten Reasons for teaching language in a lab atmosphere using headsets and computers.

By Dr. Duncan Charters, Principia College, Elsah Ohio.

In response to a question posed about why use headsets and computers in the language lab vs. the classroom atmosphere, the following are offered:

I regularly pair students up in the classroom for conversation practice but noticed they are much more excited about it when we do this in the lab. So I asked colleagues who got the same reaction, observed what was happening, and surveyed the students. There certainly seems to be enough reason to try to incorporate this feature in any new lab arrangement, for at least the following “top 10″ reasons, (a few may not apply in every lab situation).


It is different, a change in the typical class pace and routine.


A lot of face-to-face communication is non-verbal. When practicing language in a lab situation, you can focus on the verbal task without other distractions.


Students tend to stay on task more rather than lapsing into English or kidding with their friends when the teacher is not right next to them.


The teacher can monitor them any time without their knowing, intervene and correct without other students being aware or being disturbed by that. The teacher can spend more time with those in need without others noticing.


Students seem much less intimidated knowing other people are not watching them, hearing their mistakes, or eavesdropping, so they tend to speak more freely. Students (especially middle-high school) can be very conscious of how they look and sound to their peers in a group.


It is fun not knowing who your new partner is, so practice of greeting questions happens naturally, where it would not make sense in face-to-face class work. It keeps interest and anticipation high.


The constant “buzz” of everyone talking in a class situation makes it harder for students to focus on what their partner is saying and understanding it, especially when they are struggling to express themselves and respond to questions and statements. There is little such distraction with headsets, even less where there is some isolation between positions.


By switching pairs, all students can talk to all other students in the class without constantly moving themselves or their chairs around. They stay in touch with everyone in the class and can get information quickly from each one if doing a survey or checking on other’s reactions.


One of the most challenging tasks in a foreign country is communication on the phone when one has had practice only with face-to-face communication. Students who have practiced this a lot in the lab find that situation more natural and familiar.


With the newer full feature labs that have “telephone dialing” capability, the teacher can allow students to take control of their own communication when appropriate, so practice can become less teacher-directed when students have shown they have learned the material. Free (or freer) conversation can follow guided practice seamlessly with one quick announcement to all of the change.

copyright @ 2009 Renet Asia