Can computers and the Internet really replace TESOL English teachers? – acmuhd
Can computers and the Internet really replace TESOL English teachers?

Can computers and the Internet really replace TESOL English teachers?

controversial question

At English ELT seminars, workshops, and TESOL conferences, one question I get asked frequently is whether I think computers will eventually replace English teachers. Back to the Matrix movie. In an early scene, our apprentice hero, Neo, is learning kung fu by being hooked up to a computer. A few hours later, he opened his eyes, sat down, and declared, “I know kung fu!” The ensuing scenes depict how an older, more experienced mentor (also known as a tutor) follows through by evaluating the “skills” of the new youths. “Show me,” the teacher asks in typical fashion. Now if you’ve been following along with me until now, you already have proof of my answer to these teachers’ question.

Computer replace human English teacher?

are you kidding?

“No way, Jose.”

But English teachers, don’t relax completely yet. What I think we need to do is “reinvent” part of the concept of “school”. that’s what I mean.

Reinventing the school concept

Schools, at almost any level, will need to be connected both physically and interactively to a wide range of external resources. This means that the “traditional” blackboard, markers, and OHP will need to make room for additional, integrated resources that extend the classroom environment to an almost infinite degree. I mean business. Audio, video, internet, webcams, IM, TXTing, chat, email, RSS, and even a real-time multimedia feed. The class and its students will be linked to additional resources such as:

• Companies

• Libraries

• Museums

Government facilities

Scientific, technical and medical centers

• industry

• Laboratories

• Other learning institutions

In this way, students typically use learning activities such as web quests, interactive dynamics, and virtual tours to broaden and deepen their knowledge of principles and concepts. Learners will no longer be limited to the knowledge, resources and facilities available in the institution where they attend classes. Instead, the world is, quite literally, the classroom.

influence on learning

How will this directly affect learning? Well, if you’re learning computers, wouldn’t direct access to Microsoft Corp materials and training be a real boon? Technology students will undoubtedly benefit greatly from direct links with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)., Caltech (, or Lucent Corp. ( students will thrive on accessing NASA found online at: (, Boeing (, Westinghouse (, dupont ( or a group of other high-tech companies.

Students of law, government, human rights, and political science will be top of mind by being linked to databases of federal, state, and local government, or the FBI (, London Metropolitan Police (, and CIA ( and ATF ([] ) databases with associated local, regional and national resources. Health majors can keep up-to-date with real-time events in pathology, epidemiology research, natural disaster response resource information, and population health threats through the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) ( and medical and health networks or the United Nations ( The possibilities are almost endless.

Therefore, I agree that “traditional” approaches to teaching and learning, not only English and other foreign languages, but many other areas as well, will continue to evolve to meet the needs of learners, business and educational organizations. With CBL (Content-Based Learning), well-equipped TEFL teachers armed with ever-evolving knowledge, skills, and technology, have nothing to fear from computers. Technology is another powerful tool in promoting the acquisition of new knowledge and skills, now and in the future.

what do you think?

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