Language_lab



 

M J COLLEGE, JUNWANI, KOHKA, BHILAI

ENGLISH LANGUAGE LAB

 

About the English Language Lab:

 

Being a renowned institution of Durg District, the college has a Language Laboratory (Digital Language Lab Software, Version- 2018), where students can access the Audio-visual materials to enhance their Listening, speaking, reading and writing skills. The total no. of system sets available in college are 17+1. The college provide this facility to college students to learn more comprehensively through digital method

Vision and Mission:

 

  • To provide facilities to students to learn in techno friendly Environment.
  • To help students in their personality development by improving their communication skills through Language Lab.
  • To make students better professionals through better communication skills.

 

What is language laboratory in English?

A language laboratory is a dedicated space for foreign language learning where students access audio or audio-visual materials. They allow a teacher to listen to and manage student audio, which is delivered to individual students through headsets or in isolated 'sound booths.

 

What is the use of language laboratory?

The language laboratory is a very helpful tool for practicing and assessing one's speech in any language. It provides a facility which allows the student to listen to model pronunciation, repeat and record the same, listen to their performance and compare with the model, and do self-assessment.

Introduction

Good communication skills are indispensable for the success of any professional. If one wants to reach out to people, he or she has to speak their language. The English language, in particular, has become essential in the lives of young people who aspire to advance their careers anywhere in the world. English language learning has therefore become a must for any Indian student today.

Language learning is not the same as learning any other subject. It is not confined to writing an examination and getting a degree or award. The four skills of reading, writing, listening and speaking have to be practiced. Being able to communicate well is the most important factor when seeking a placement in a company or institution. Communication involves one’s ability to listen carefully so as to grasp the meaning and to respond in turn with apt words and clarity of pronunciation.

The language laboratory plays an important role in the language learning process. This article discusses the various features of the language laboratory. As it is a technological aid for learning, it has a number of advanced facilities that can help a student to learn a language with proficiency to communicate. It has become inevitable in today’s context but, at the same time, it poses certain challenges. This article attempts to highlight the significance of the language laboratory and its challenges imposed on the learner and the teacher.


The Need for a Language Laboratory

It is required of any learner to have a good command of the language for communication purposes, with clarity and accuracy being vital for effective and efficient communication. What help one to acquire such proficiency in a language is the process and the method of learning that language.

The curriculum of the present educational system in India does not have a laboratory session for arts subjects. Only those who study science subjects have practical work, which is undertaken in a laboratory. Hence, a laboratory for language learning is something new to Indian students, whereas it is very common in Western countries to train children in the laboratory to enrich their language learning experiences.

Scientific advancements have produced a number of innovative products to assist the learning process. Innovative products such as digital multimedia control, wireless headsets and microphones, the interactive response pad, etc. are very useful for students learning languages for communication. These interactive tools are designed to enhance not only language teaching but also class room grading and distance learning.

The language laboratory is very useful for assessing students' speech. It provides students with the technical tools to get the best samples of pronunciation of the language. The electronic devices used in the laboratory will stimulate the eyes and ears of the learner to acquire the language quickly and easily. The laboratory’s collection is designed to assist learners in the acquisition and maintenance of aural comprehension, oral and written proficiency, and cultural awareness. The language laboratory offers broadcasting, television programmes, web-assisted materials and videotaped off-air recordings in the target language. In short, a learner can get the experience of having interaction with native speakers through the laboratory. Hence, the language laboratory has become the need of the hour in any language learning process for communication.


Kinds of Language Laboratory

The language laboratory assists educators in delivering foreign language instruction, and has been through many developmental stages over the years.

Four kinds of laboratories are being focused on here:

Conventional Laboratory

This is the primitive form of the language laboratory. The conventional lab has a tape recorder and a few audiocassettes of the target language to teach the learners. The teacher plays the tape and the learners listen to it and learn the pronunciation. As it is used in a normal classroom setup, it is prone to distractions and this type of laboratory is no longer common.

Lingua Phone Laboratory

This is again a conventional type of lab, with a little modernization. Learners are given a headset to listen to the audiocassettes being played. Here distractions are minimized and a certain amount of clarity in listening is possible.

There is also a modernized lingua phone laboratory available today, which uses an electronic device that has two functions. It works as a cassette player with all the features of a normal cassette player on the left side, and as a repeater on the right side that helps one to record one’s voice and play it back for comparison.

 

 

Computer Assisted Language Laboratory (CALL)

CALL uses the computer to teach language. The language course materials are already fed into the computer and are displayed according to the features available in the system. Nowadays, there are also laboratories with computers with a connection to the Internet. These are called Web Assisted Language Laboratories (WALL). The development of CALL has been gradual, and this development has been categorized into three distinct phases: Behavioristic CALL, Communicative CALL and Integrative CALL (Barson & Debski, 1996). Though the development of CALL has been gradual, its acceptance has come slowly and unevenly.

Multimedia Hi-Tech Language Laboratory

There is a lot of software available on the market that can be used in the multimedia language laboratory, for example:

Renet

Aristoclass

Hiclass

Globarina

Console OCL-908W

Histudio MHi Tech

Online Software


The Significance and Relevance of the Language Laboratory

The significance of the language laboratory has been much felt in the domain of communication. We live in a multilingual and multicultural world, which is being shrunk to the size of a village by the advancement of science and technology. The language laboratory exists to help one to use technology effectively to communicate. It is not merely for learning a single language, but can be used for teaching a number of languages efficiently. To acquire a sensibility for the sounds and rhythm of a language, one has to hear the best samples of a spoken language (Richards, 2001). This is precisely the function of the language laboratory. Some highlights of the language laboratory are given below:

1. It is a tool designed for teaching any language.

2. It helps one to learn pronunciation, accent, stress and all other aspects of the phonetics of a language.

3. Effective communicative training programmes for the general public, private and corporate sectors, junior and senior level officers can be given through the lab.

4. Web-content creation, the setting up of in-house news magazines, corporate publicity and identity, and teaching materials can be generated through the language laboratory.

5. General documentation, software documentation and all forms of technical documentation can be done.

6. Experts can utilize the laboratory for creating and editing scientific and technical materials for teaching language.

7. The language laboratory enables one to conduct courses for various groups of people like students, faculties, businesspeople, etc.

8. Short-term and long-term coaching classes for international examinations like IELTS, TOEFL and other competitive examinations can be organized.

9. Online courses and paperless examinations can be conducted through the language laboratory.

As the ability to communicate effectively has become the prerequisite for anyone who ventures into a new profession, the need for developing such a skill is a much-felt phenomenon today. Both governmental and private institutions focus their attention on students developing their communicative skills. As technology has entered into every aspect of human life, it has extended its advanced products into the field of communication. So everyone strives to get the best on the market.

It is a fact that most students who do not find a placement after completion of their technical studies are very much dependent on their ability to express themselves and their knowledge efficiently. While emphasizing the importance of employment-oriented education, M J College has language laboratories on their premises to enable students to develop their communicative skills.

Though our students fare well in their exams, in real life they are left fumbling for words and speak incorrect English. With globalization, there has been a rise in demand for employees with good communication skills. With the growing demand for excellent communication skills, there have been explorations in the area of technology to meet this purpose. And one such experiment has been in the field of language laboratory. This paper will look at the following: what is a language laboratory? What kinds of language laboratories are available to a language teacher? Is a language laboratory essential for language teaching and learning? The paper deals with the advantages and disadvantages of using a language laboratory. The paper also looks at the feasibility of language labs in a country like India and tries to critically study whether its advantageous to set up language laboratories or not.

 

In any profession, possessing good communication skills is deemed advantageous as it helps in reaching out to most people successfully. With globalization this possession of good communication skills translates into excellent communication skills in the English Language. In a country like India, it has become essential to be able to communicate in English if one wants to further his/her career. As a result there are various courses for gaining command over the English language and nearly all these courses draw attention to providing a language laboratory to build skills in the English language.

This paper looks at teaching of communication skills at the undergraduate level in government aided colleges with a special focus on the language laboratory. Generally laboratories were used in India for the science subjects. With technological advancement and exposure to western models of teaching and learning, there has been a spurt in the growth of language laboratories in colleges.  This paper will look at the following: what is a language laboratory? What kinds of language laboratories are available to a language teacher? What are their advantages and disadvantages? Is a language laboratory essential for language teaching and learning? The paper also studies on the changing destinies of language laboratories with the swing in language acquisition methods. The paper also looks at the feasibility of language labs in a country like India and tries to critically study whether its advantageous to set up language laboratories or not.

The language laboratory is an audio or audio-visual installation used as an aid in modern language teaching. They can be found, amongst other places, in schools, universities and academies. Perhaps the first lab was at the University of Grenoble. (Ruby,W.B. 2004) In the 1950s up until the 1990s, they were tape based systems using reel to reel or (latterly) cassette. Current installations are generally multimedia PCs. The original language labs are now very outdated. They allowed a teacher to listen to and manage student audio via a hard-wired analogue tape deck based systems with 'sound booths' in fixed locations.

The Conventional Laboratory is the primitive form of the language laboratory.  The conventional lab has a tape recorder and a few audiocassettes of the target language to teach the learners. The teacher plays the tape and the learners listen to it and learn the pronunciation.  As it is used in a normal classroom setup, it is prone to distractions and this type of laboratory is no longer common.

The Lingua Phone Laboratory is again a conventional type of lab, with a little modernization.  Learners are given a headset to listen to the audiocassettes being played.  Here distractions are minimized and. There is also a modernized lingua phone laboratory available today, which uses an electronic device that works as a cassette player with all the features of a normal cassette player on the left side, and as a repeater on the right side that helps one to record one’s voice and replay it for comparison.

The Computer Assisted Language Laboratory (CALL)  uses computer to teach language. The course materials are already fed into the computer and are displayed according to the features available in the system. Nowadays, there are also laboratories with computers with a connection to the Internet.

The Dial Access Lab needs more spaces than the Conventional Lab. It also needs more technicians at any given time. It is basically a broadcast operation. Depending on the size of operation, any number of students can access a particular tape at any given time.

Mobile Lab: This is basically a console on wheels with storage spaces for headsets. It is best used within a single building where it can be moved from one room to another (Writing is very minimal).While the advantage of the mobile lab is that any classroom may be turned into a lab, the drawback is that the equipment is heavy and hampers free movement. It requires time and energy to set up.

Wireless Lab: The wires connecting the sources to student headsets are replaced by radio transmission in a wireless laboratory. The console contains a small transmitter that serves this purpose. Monitoring and intercom are NOT possible with this lab. (It combines well with the Mobile Lab, though the important functions of monitoring and intercom are forfeited)

Portable Lab: This is similar to the Mobile Lab except that instead of being placed on wheels, it is placed in weather–proofed packages enclosed in containers with handles. It is either powered by batteries or portable electric generators. It is ideal for poverty stricken areas. (Types of Laboratory Installations. Wiki educator)

Whatever be the kind of lab, a serious criticism that comes from all quarters is that it is at best a dialogue between the students and an electromagnetic tape, and, at worst, the apotheosis of the system of parrot learning. (Cooper 46) In short, that it is a dehumanized method of language learning.

Recent experience in the use of language laboratories techniques in the teaching of English as a foreign language suggests that we need to criticize our concept of language laboratory use . Certainly it is very far from being the panacea of EFL, and it is hard to escape the accusation that it amounts to little more than a piece at sophisticated linguistic gimmickry, impressive  the layout, but of marginal 'effectiveness in improving all-round speech performance. (Cooper, Desmond)

Despite this essential drawback, teachers and researchers claim that there are benefits of using language labs in ESL/ EFL classrooms. Some of the benefits are as follows:

The use of a modern language lab or reading lab system will allow the students to learn any language or improve their own reading and speaking skills and develop their own native language comprehension at an accelerated rate.

Listening skills are primary in becoming fluent. Even Level II language labs (the simplest type of system) help develop listening skills, allowing the students to focus on the spoken word and therefore enhancing their ability to repeat and understand the spoken language.

In a lab setting the students can be subdivided into small groups to either listen and respond to the instructor's program material or interact with each other in conversational exercises. There are many types of exercises and activities that can be developed by instructors for both mainstream and special needs.

The ability of each student to speak at the same time and yet be audibly isolated from each other allows efficient use of time and a higher degree of practice and learning. All of the students can practice simultaneously (rather than one at a time) thus increasing the student's actual practice and fluency.

ASC Direct. Inc. lists the following characteristics/benefits which apply to language labs:

· Acoustics: The language lab provides all students no matter where they are seated in the room with 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.

 Privacy: The headset/microphone provides students with a psychological privacy that promotes their speaking ability. It reduces the inhibitions felt in normal classroom situations.

· Attention: