This is another in a series of papers written by post-graduate students. Đậu Thị Khánh Toàn is a teacher in rural Quảng Bình Province, two provinces north of Huê. As someone who has been professionally interested in educational technology for fifteen years, I found her paper to be quite insightful into Việt Nam's future. As always, it is unedited for content, and I modified only for formatting to suit the Web.
COLLEGE OF FOREIGN LANGUAGES
Subject: Academic Writing
Topic: IS INCREASED INTERNET USAGE A POSITIVE MOTIVATOR TO LEARN ENGLSH AMONG UNIVERSITY STUDENTS?
Instructor : Mr. Doug
Researche: ĐẬU THỊ KHÁNH TOÀN
Hue, Dec. 2005
This study investigates if increased Internet usage is seen as a positive motivator for students to study English. Internet access may increase student participation in English while using various functions of computer technology such as Internet search, e-mail and other entertainment programs. In this paper, the research data revealed that using Internet increasingly enhances the language learning skills of students: reading, writing, listening, and speaking.
Nowadays, technological computers are so powerful that they have pervaded all the educational, business and economic sectors all over the world (Singhal, 1997). As Moras (2001) said that computer and the Internet are so widespread today that one feels outdated if not using them. The majority of students take part in the Internet since they see it as a trendy and useful tool enabling them to be connected with the outside world. Moreover, in a society of the of the information explosion and in the process of integration, and globalization (Moras, 2001), English is not only a language of international communication but also the main language in the Internet. As a matter of that fact, learners begin to appreciate the usefulness in learning the language. Students want to have more English proficiency to function well on the Internet, to get higher education, to master science and technology and cooperate with the outside world. As a result, using Internet positively motivates students in learning 4 language skills: reading, writing, speaking and listening.
This research will be accomplished by answering two questions:
1. Why do many students access Internet frequently?
2. How does Internet usage promote students’ language learning?
This study also mentions the disadvantages related to learning language through the Internet: no guarantee to quality of the information (Hackett) and the possibility to translate the entire sites into the other languages. Therefore, some recommendations for using Internet effectively to improve students’ English are suggested.
Motivation of language learning
There has been a great deal of research on the role of motivation in learning English. Motivation can be defined as an inner drive, impulse, emotion, or desire that moves one to a particular action (Brown, 1994, p.152). Motivation is typically examined in term of the intrinsic and extrinsic orientation of the learner. However, intrinsic motivation in this study is the main point. According to Edward Deci (1975, p.23), “ Intrinsically motivated activities are ones for which there is no apparent reward except the activity itself. People seem to engage in the activities for their own sake … Intrinsically motivated behaviors are aimed at bringing about certain internally rewarding consequences, namely, feeling of competence and self- determination.”
The roles of the Internet in language learning
Up to now, there has been much research done into confirming the positive effects of Internet in learning English (Schoepp & Erogul, 2001). According to Chafe (1999), the Internet is a vast network of computers connected to one another from various sectors of society such as education, business, government and the military. Each individual system contains of variety of things like databases, library services, graphs, maps, electronic journals, etc. The advent of Internet has provided students with an infinite source of authentic materials and supplied vast information from newspapers, graphics, video, games, music, audio, etc, which enrich students’ knowledge (Schoepp & Erogul, 2001). It can be used to exchange information through email, chat rooms, forum discussion, and so forth. Moreover, English Internet usage promotes the students’ writing, helps them to expand their ideals of “content- area” reading and functional writing across cultural boundaries (Davis & Chang, 1994, cited in Singhal, 1997).
Although the Internet brings us benefits promoting students to practice English, it must be kept in mind that there are some challenges as well. Internet has often viewed as chaotic, and disorganized. In addition, there is no guarantee for its quality. Another obstacle with online language learning is that World Wide Wed is predominately an English system. It is now possible to translate entire sections of sites into the other language without learning English (Chafe, 1999). These difficulties may negatively affect the process of learning language.
- Participants: This is a study of how increased Internet usage motivates students to learn English, so all the participants of the study are, to a more or less extent, related to Internet and English. Thus, the questionnaires using both close and open-ended questions were given to 30 freshmen of informatics chosen randomly in Hue College of Pedagogy.
- Quantitative method and statistic analysis: The results of data were grouped and analyzed in term of statistical frequency based on percentages. Quantity was used to explain the information and did the statistics collected from questionnaires and other instruments. The results of data were discussed to reveal the positive motivation of the Internet usage to language learning skills of the students.
FINDINGS AND DISCUSSION
The results and discussion will be divided into two sections. The first section will mention about the important roles of the Internet and English while the second segment will look specifically at the positive effects of the Internet in developing four English language skills of students.
The Internet and English
Table 1: frequency of using Internet
Answers Numbers Percentages
a. 2-3 times a week 19 63.33
b. Once a week 8 26.66
c. 1-2 a month 0 0
d. Never 0 0
e. Other: 4-5 times 3 10
In fact, information technology is regarded as an essential component to Hue university infrastructure and Internet has become popular among students. The results data in table 1 illustrated this statement. Of the 30 students who participated in the study, all of them (100%) had regular access to a computer with Internet. They spent an average of 2 – 3 times a week on these computers. 10% of them sat 4 – 5 times a week in front of the screen. The data strongly indicated that students have positive attitudes towards Internet and it seems that they can not help using Internet frequently. It is obviously to say that we have entered a new information age and the Internet here to stay.
It is apparent that the students are instrumentally motivated to use English Internet. Responding to the question why they use English Internet, the majority of students used the Internet for academics: 80% of them for retrieving worldwide information and 70% for using it as a learning tool. A slight minority (60%) enjoyed having fun with games or online music. The results (table 2) strongly indicated that Internet is not only useful but also interesting. With a variety of functions and a great deal of information, the Internet helps students to get higher education and enriches their knowledge of the world.
Table 2: The reasons for using Internet.
Answers Numbers Percentages
a. Accessing information 24 80
b. Learning tool 21 70
c. Entertainment 18 60
Table 3: The choice for language in the Internet
Answers Numbers Percentages
a. English 23 76.66
b. Vietnamese 7 22.33
The research data in table 3 focused on the needs of students using English Internet. 76.66% of the students accessed English Internet. According to them, English is a more effective language than the others since all the instructions and programs installed in computer are in English. In contrast, 23.3% of the participants in this study only used Vietnamese because they knew English little. However, a great quantity of resources have been supplied on the Internet certainly to an extent that are unparalleled and unavailable in Vietnamese, so they used English in order to function well on computer technology and to access the world’s knowledge. The above questionnaire data strongly revealed that students are reasonable to choose English because of its usefulness.
The impact of the Internet on learning 4 language skills
Through analyzing the research data, it is assumed that computer technology promotes the ability of reading, writing communicative skills effectively over the Internet.
According to the data (table 4), 65.21% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that when retrieving information, English helped them a lot and 34.78% of them a little. In fact, as students search for specific information, they are required scanning, discarding, and evaluative judgments to put the information into a complete, coherent whole, which entails the synthesis process. Even when reading instruction games, players had to know what to do in order to play effectively. Some said that stories, magazines in English made them try to read them and found it very interesting. The data strongly indicated that such an endeavor for exploring information enhances students to practice reading skills and strategies.
In response to the question if using email, chat, the web frequently enhances their English writing skills, 73.91% of them either agreed or strongly agreed, as opposed to 21.73% who disagreed or strongly disagreed. When writing messages, chatting, or communicating with native speaker, students publish and distribute multimedia information for an international audience, they feel more responsible for the final product. This enhances their specific skills such as negotiating, persuading while writing English. Moreover, the feedback plays an important role language development. Students who got computerized error feedback did more editing with the help of spelling checker in word-processors. As a result, they put a great deal of effort making positive results in writing skills.
Table 4: Internet usage enhances 4 language skills
Skills Answers Number Percentage
Reading A lot help 15 65.21
A little help 8 34.78
Writing Yes 17 73.91
No 5 21.73
Speaking and listening A lot help 12 5217
A little help 11 47.82
According to the data of the survey, besides using Internet as a worldwide information resource, and a learning tool, students also used it for entertainment. As was done with the group data, 52.17% students believed their listening skills are enhanced effectively while using chat voice or listening to audio, video streams and online music launched from 3D Internet. A slight minority (47.82%) enjoyed the Internet but with a little positive effect on their listening skills. In fact, the majority of students enjoy chatting with their electronic pen. With 3D Internet, online users can speak to each other through voice-to-voice telephony in order to exchange information, to express their opinion or to make friend. Watching films and listening to online audio, or online music also help students to develop listening skills while having fun. As a result, listening and speaking skills of students are promoted.
The whole research data above strongly revealed that using the multimedia networked computer with informational, communicative, and publishing tools not only makes students function well on the Internet and but also enhances learners’ 4 language skills, communicative skills and the cooperation with the outside world.
CONCLUSION AND IMPLICATIONS
All in all, in the developed world of information technology and globalization, Internet, an essential feature of modern life, strongly helps students how to deal with amount of information and be able to use English effectively (Lee, 2000). In addition, English, an international communicative language, is so powerful that great deal of Internet users are eager to learn. Therefore, using Internet positively motivates students to develop four language skills better. In turn, thank to English competence, students not only function well on the Internet, but also be able to achieve their goals. This will make an upward spiral that strongly motivates students to higher education (Littlejohn, 2001).
However, from the difficulties of learning English through using Internet mentioned above, some implications for learning English better with computer technology are suggested. First, when exploring Internet, students must be sure that where they are going and what is going on by locating and selecting the information worthy for learning. Then, more important thing is that students should enjoy and recognize the value of English in computer technology and vice versa. Further research needs to be conducted into the way to learn English effectively on Internet.
Brown, H. D. (1994). Principles of language learning and teaching (3rd ed.). New Jersey: Prentice Hall Regents. (pp. 152-156).
Chafe, A. (1999, November). Effective use of Internet in second language education: Benefits, challenges and guidelines for teacher. Retrieved December 1st, 2005 from http://www.cdi.ca/~achafe/Internetinclassroom.html.
Deci, E. L. (1975). Intrinsic motivation. New York: Plenum Press.
Hackett, L. The Internet and e-mail: useful tools for foreign language teaching and learning. Retrieved December 1st, 2005 from http://www.cltr.uq.edu.au/oncall/hackett101.html.
Lee, Kang-wu (2000, December). Computer-assisted language learning (CALL) and the Internet. Retrieved December 1st, 2005 from: http://iteslj.org.
Littlejohn, A. (2001, April). Motivation: Where does it come from? Where does it go? English teaching professional, 19, 5-8.
Moras, S. (2001). Computer – assisted language learning (CALL) and the Interne. Retrieved December 1st, 2005 from http://www3.telus.net/linguisticsissues/CALL.html
Schoepp, K. & Erogul, M. (2001). Turkish EFL students’ utilization of information technology outside of the classroom. Retrieved December 1st, 2005 from http://www.teflweb-j.org/v1n1/v1n1.html.
Singhal, M. (1997, June). The Internet and foreign language education: Benefits and challenges. Retrieved December 1st, 2005 from http://iteslj.org/Articles/Singhal-Internet.html.
These questions aim to investigate if increased Internet usage is seen as a positive motivator for students to learn English. Choose and tick the answers, (more than answers are possible). Your cooperation is of great value to the completion of the research paper. Thank you very much for your help!
1. How often do you use Internet?
a. From 2 to 3 times a week
b. Once a week
c. Once or twice a month
e. Other answer:…………..
2. What do you use Internet for?
a. Accessing information
b. Using Internet as a tool to study
c. Enjoying entertainments
d. Other answer:..........
3. Which language do you use when accessing Internet?
a. English (If choosing a, continuing the following answers)
d. Other language:………….
4. Does using English help you to search the information more effectively?
a. A lot
b. A little
c. Not at all
d. Other answer:…………………
5. Does using email, chat, website frequently enhance your English writing skill?
6. Do listening to online music; using voice chat and listening to instructions on the Internet in English improve your listening and speaking skills?
a. A lot
b. A little
c. Not at all
d. Other answer:……………………