- What does the application attempt to teach?
The website that I chose to evaluate is a site in which English learners of all level can use since in some exercises learners can choose the level of difficulty of the questions. For example in the word games, learners are able to choose vocabulary ranging from easy, medium, more difficult and challenging. The questions in this site focus more on grammar and vocabulary. Besides, simple notes on grammar are also available for learners to read so that they will know the usage of the tenses, verb form and part of speech before answering the questions that follow but they cannot give the answer in the website. Thus, the teachers or learners need to print the questions. The learners still can take the quizzes on grammar online and get the answers straight away. Examples of quizzes are verb, preposition, linking words and question tags.
There are a lot of word games available for learners to test their vocabulary like crosswords, jumbled sentences, missing words and matching exercise. For these games learners are able to play them online and check their answers immediately. Thus, the learners can play these games without the presence of the teachers. Moreover, the topics are also varied in which not just teenagers but adult learners can benefit by playing these games. This is because the learners are able to choose topics which are important for them to use like food, transport, health, personality, employment, business and many more. So, learners are able to enrich their vocabulary and use it in their daily conversation. Besides, learners will be able to take general knowledge quiz which is not focusing on language. In this way, learners can enhance their general knowledge also since the questions cover other areas like science, geography and history. Thus, its approach is authentic.
This site is also good for businessmen who want to learn English because they can learn useful phrases in writing business letter and vocabulary for advertising and publicity, marketing, meetings, negotiations, telephone and finance. They can also learn on how to do presentations and be prepared to attend interview for there are list of questions available which is designed to serve as guide. Even science teacher can benefit from this site if they are teaching on the topic of environment in which they are useful vocabulary, terms and phrases. The teachers can print the vocabulary games as well for the students to do as exercises. In addition to that learners can learn new words in English that has been coined in recent years and learners can contribute too by suggesting a new word. They also can learn idioms, proverbs and quotations through this site.
In my opinion, this site promotes self-directed learning in which the learners can take the quizzes and play these language games without the attendance of the teachers. Thus, students will not be dependent on teachers as they can learn at home too as long as they have internet connection. The students also can get their marks and know the correct answers as soon as they click the word ‘Check’.
- What sort of things is the application user expected to do with regards to learning the content?
This application is free and can be accessed by everyone who interested to learn English as all we need is computer and internet connection. Apart from taking the quizzes and playing these games online, learners or teachers can print them as they are available in printable version as well. This will be an advantage for the teachers as they can use the exercises in classroom which is not equipped with computers.
Moreover, it is important for learners to know their level of proficiency if they want to play the word games so that it will be easier for them to choose the topic. Learners can choose the topic ranging from easy, medium, more difficult and challenging. It is very easy to use the application as the learners just needs to click, type and drag and drop. In the homepage learners will have the overview on what is available in the site like lessons, word games, vocabulary, idioms and proverbs and all they need is a click on the links available.
When playing the word games, learners will have immediate feedback because as soon as they click the word “Check” they will get their marks. So, they don’t need teachers or someone else to check their answers. In addition to that, if the learners cannot figure out the answer when playing the crossword puzzles and jumbled sentences, they can click the button “Hint” to get clue that will lead to the answer. If they learners are interested to play other word or language games this site has provided some links as well.
- What sort of computer skills is the application users expected to have in order to operate/access/use the application?
This application is very simple and thus it only requires learners to know the basic skills of using computer. Firstly, they need to know to click on the links available for them to be directed to the word games, idioms and proverbs. After that, they will need to choose the topic based on their level of proficiency or area of interest. All they need is a click for them to browse to each page of the site.
Secondly they need to have the typing skills in doing ‘Missing Words’ as they will need to type their answers in the space provided. Then, they need to know to drag and drop by using the mouse if they are playing ‘Jumbled sentences’ and ‘Matching’.
- While you are “playing”/ “accessing”/ “assessing” the application, does it remind you of anything you do in the classroom, or with a teacher, or with a fellow classmate, or in self-study?
When playing or assessing the application it reminds of the software Hot Potato in which most of the word games are generated by using this software. For example the game ‘Matching’ is generated through JMatch, ‘Crossword’ by using JCross and ‘Missing Words’ through JCloze.
The ‘Missing Words’ game also reminds me of my practicum in which I wanted to prepare a cloze passage for my students and it took quite a long time for me to prepare it whereas by using JCloze I can do it in less than 30 minutes. Moreover, all the printable word games remind me when I was preparing teaching aids in which I spent so much time browsing for word games and sometimes I ended up typing them back because I cannot print them. If I found out this site when I was having my practicum it will make my life easier because there are a lot printable word games and exercises available.
Moreover, the ‘Crossword’ reminds me of the activity that I have done with my students especially when I taught them new vocabulary. I think it will be more interesting if they use this application rather than do it on paper because they will get hint as well as their marks immediately. This is because in the classroom they need me to give the answers and normally I will wait for everyone to finish their task first before I give them the answer.
- Can you pinpoint some theories of language learning and/or teaching underlying the application?
There are some theories of language learning and teaching underlying this application. First is the
Another theory is the Classical or Grammar Translation Method which can be noticed through the grammar lessons and vocabulary as they focus on grammatical rules and memorization of vocabulary Brown (2000). There is also use of Communicative Competence theory in the ‘Business English’ as learners learn the vocabulary to talk, discuss or present on certain topic like finance, negotiations and advertising and publicity. Through the vocabulary the learners are expected to use them when conversing at work place.
- How well is the constructivist theory of learning applied to the chosen website(s)?
The constructivist theory of learning which is applied to this site is Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) by Vygotsky. Vygotksy believes that ZPD is gap between what a learner can accomplish independently and what a learner cannot do, even with assistance (Santrock, 2006). There are many activities in this site that the learners can do on their own without assistance like ‘Quizzes’ and ‘Matching’ and there are some applications that give assistance by providing hints if the students fail to figure out the answers like ‘Crosswords’ and ‘Jumbled Sentences”. ZPD also promotes tasks that are too difficult to too easy for learners to accomplish and this can be found in this site as the word games are ranging from easy to challenging (Santrock, 2006).
Moreover, this site also applied the constructivist approach which is the learner-centered approach as learners will construct their own knowledge and understanding by playing the word games or answering the quizzes with guidance from teachers. The guidance of teachers is crucial when the learners finish playing the word games or answering the exercises so that they will know what their mistakes are.
Another idea of ZPD is scaffolding which is defines as modifying the level of support and this is present in this site. The scaffolding can be done by teachers by giving guidance to the learners and it exists in this site too like providing information to guide learners and providing hints.
- In 1980s and early 1990s, there was a major debate on “whether the computer was “master” of or “slave” to the learning process (Higgins and Johns, 1984). In relation to your evaluation – was the computer was a replacement for teachers, or merely an obedient servant to students?
In my opinion, computer is not a “master” or a “slave” to the learning process but it is a helping hand to the teachers as well as learners. This is because computer plays an important role in easing the burden of teachers in preparing lesson plans. With a computer a lot of things can be done by teachers in the nick of time as they can easily design teaching aids such as handouts, games and quiz. For me, computer serves as a teaching aid for effective presentation like Flash or PowerPoint which makes the process of learning becomes interesting and interactive.
Computer is also not a replacement for teachers because there are certain things that computer can’t do like talking or expressing feelings. Fay and Funk (1995) has quoted “No behavioral technique will have a lasting, positive result if it is not delivered with compassion, empathy or understanding”. Thus, two-ways communication between teachers and students play an important role in teaching and learning session in order to meet the students need in the classroom. The computer will not be a replacement to the teachers as they cannot carry out the roles.
Moreover, computer is not an obedient or servant to the students but it adds a fun element to education as students are not learning the traditional way which is chalk and talk. The students also need to do the work like playing the games or answering these exercises and not the computer.
- Would you like to use the application yourself in your future work?
Yes? Give reasons:
No? Give reasons:
Yes, I will use the application in my future work because there’s a lot of printable exercises and word games that will make my life easier. I can even bring my students to computer lab and use this application and this will increase their motivation to learn English as they do not have to write but just click, type and drag and drop. This will also change the traditional teaching and learning session which is talk and chalk. Moreover, the application in this site is very simple in which it is easy to navigate by clicking on the links available.
Besides, the topics are also varied so I can make use of the word games especially in teaching vocabulary and grammar. Most of the topics available in this site are in the English syllabus for secondary school. Thus, I have to agree that internet actually ease the burden of teacher in preparing lesson plan. In addition to that, the word games in this site cater the needs of the students who come from different level of proficiency.
In terms of the quality of screen formatting, the font, the font size and colour are uncluttered so it is easier for learners to read the words. Moreover, it is not overwriting. In fact the instruction is very simple and easy for learners to digest. If I’m teaching in the university or college this site is actually good for learners who enroll in business studies as there’s a lot input which is related to business such as business letters, negotiations, marketing and sales and money and finance. Thus, this site is actually practical towards young adults and adult learners.
- Suggestions/ Recommendations
I suggest that the developer of this site to add more colours or animation in order to attract young learners to use the applications in this site. Moreover, it would be nice if there is an audio or video on business vocabulary so that learners can practice to communicate by using the vocabulary. It would be more authentic as learners can listen or watch people use the vocabulary in conversation, discussion or presentation when they are negotiating, having telephone conversation, presenting and attending interview. Probably the developer should provide examples of business letters so that learners will have a clear view on how to write business letters.
- Fay, Jim and Funk David (1995). Teaching with Love and Logic.
- Santrock, J.W. (2006). Educational Psychology: Classroom Update: Preparing for Praxis and Practice.
: Mc Graw Hill. United States
- Brown, H.D (2000). Teaching by Principles: An Interactive Approach to Language Pedagogy.
: Longman. New York