Thursday, 6 November 2008

The A B C of Language Labs - Article in DH Education 06-11-2008

The A B C of Language Labs

From LKG to PG classes, all professional training institutes should have atleast one Language Lab,
Bedre Manjunath

There is an easier way to learn new languages. All you need is a laptop equipped with a multimedia language lab. But, first, what is Language Lab?A Language Laboratory is a room in a school, college, training institute or university that contains special equipment to help students learn foreign languages by listening to tapes or CDs, watching videos, recording themselves, etc. The language laboratory is an audio or audio-visual installation used as an aid in modern language training.It is also called as a Speech and Writing Lab. All the four language learning skills (listening, speaking, reading and writing) are given importance. Students are provided with ample opportunities to practice by listening to audio programmes and watching video clips.Technically a language lab is an instructional tool consisting of a source unit that can disseminate audio, audio-visual, and/or written materials to any number of students at individual seats or carrels, with a wide variety of potential feedback mechanisms.There are different kinds of language labs available today. Starting with the basic Audio System Language Lab (which consists of a central tape recorder connected to a number of headsets or earphones) to the Multi-Media Computer Language Lab (which has built-in media functions and offers computer-assisted instruction to students).It is very simple and easy to establish your own lab within any budget. There are many companies which supply the required software and hardware to establish a Language Lab. Some of these companies provide yearly maintenance facilities as well.Look before you leapBefore establishing a full-fledged language lab it is wise to visit some of the well-established labs at CLU, RIESI, British Council, Kuvempu University and the Bedre Foundation.Of course, a computer cannot replace the teacher. However it does brings a change in the role of the language teacher, from the traditional know-it-all authoritarian to a facilitator or a guide in the language learning process. Noted linguist Clifford says, “Computers will not replace teachers, but teachers who use computers will replace those teachers who do not.”