Computers and other items of information and communication technologies enrich the teaching and learning of language considerably. The following are among some of the ways in which they may be used:
- Computers are a major contributor to a print-rich environment. Using programs inevitably involves the reading of on-screen instructions (for example, in pull-down menus) and following directions, all of which demand a level of literacy. Children's use of computers will therefore foster their awareness of print and encourage the development of reading skills.
- Computer programs are available to support the development of word identification, spelling and other reading skills. Many of these programs use a 'games' approach to encourage and reward the learner. These packages usually have a number of levels of difficulty which may be chosen by the teacher or the learner and some incorporate a recording of the pupils' achievements which may assist the teacher with assessment.
- Many children's books are now available in multimedia and CD-ROM formats. These 'books' may be read by the child from the screen or the child may listen as the story is 'told' and illustrated by the computer. The best of these packages allow the child to control the pace of the reading. Words and sentences are shown and highlighted as they are read by the narrator and the child may select items of interest in the pictures about which further information is then made available.
- Increasingly, reference books are available in CD-ROM form rather than in conventional paper-based dictionaries and encyclopedias. Entries on CD-ROMs may include information in text, in pictures and in sound and video images. These visual and sound elements add greatly to the attractiveness of this type of reference work and can enhance children's understanding of the textual information. Alphabetical order, classification and other skills are just as necessary in using these newer forms of reference works and the increasing use of information technology will require the continuous development of these skills in children.
- Word-processing programs are ideally suited to the process writing approach advocated in the curriculum. By creating documents in computer files children may draft, edit and redraft with ease while mechanical copying and rewriting may be avoided. At times a child's lack of keyboard skills may prove an obstacle: in such cases the teacher might consider entering the rough draft of the text into the computer for the child who can then edit it and produce a further draft.
- Computers can also enhance the standard of presentation of a child's work, giving him/her an added pride in the final product. This is particularly important for children who may have motor control difficulties.
- Concept keyboards are available for use with younger children who would find the conventional keyboard inaccessible. A concept keyboard consists of a touch-sensitive pad which is subdivided into a number of areas. Each area can be linked to a word (or series of words), a picture, a colour or other concept. While each key on a conventional keyboard is linked to a single letter or other character, the areas of a concept keyboard will reproduce a whole word or phrase on screen. This enables the child to build up a sentence or phrase with ease. Concept keyboards allow the teacher to pre-determine the words or phrases attached to each area of the keyboard so they may be used to reinforce vocabulary work and reading skills.
|Word processing can greatly assist the process of drafting, |
editing and revising
- Connection to e-mail and the internet will give children access to another form of communication, enhance their language awareness and give them an added incentive to develop language skills. Through the internet children may gain access to a wide range of literature, textual information and visual images. Exchanging letters, messages, poetry, stories and details of projects with other schools and children are excellent ways in which information technology may encourage writing and reading abilities.