Tuesday, 5 May 2009

The old language lab will have to go

All through my language teaching career we've had this language lab in our school. When the school building was new, it was state-of-the-art technology and we were all happy with and proud of the 36 separate booths, each with their own CASSETTE (what on earth is a cassette, my students ask now!) player plus headset with a microphone.

This spring finally marks the time when it is all going to be trashed and a new classroom designed in its place. The era of learning languages mainly by being spoonfed teacher-selected tapes to passively listen to is over - thank goodness. Moreover, about a third of the players were constantly out of order, making it too expensive to keep having them repaired almost monthly. Although there will probably be times when I miss the chance of silencing a rowdy group into silent listening in the last restless class of the afternoon, I am really looking forward to having a more flexible working space. Hopefully a group working space with laptops, webcams, microphones, Skype - all the world at your fingertips! Budget permitting, of course.
We received these pictures from a partner school in South Korea, and I am really envious of their table arrangement and spacious room.

I wonder what our solution will look like. All I hope is that there will be enough funds to build something a bit more than the traditional classroom setting with straight rows of desks and the almighty teacher in front. It's quite surprising how many colleagues want nothing but that, probably because it's safe, disciplined and oh so familiar. Unfortunately, these old-style classrooms lend themselves poorly to group work, for example. At the end of the day, though, it's not the space or the tools. If you want to bring the world into your classroom, you'll make do with what you've got!


Jessie Teacher said...

Hi there,

Just read your post and agreed heartily ! You should come and check our the new improved Languagelab.com, we have a built a 3-D city where students can meet native speakers and students from all over the world from school or home. So yes the old school Languagelab is dead! If your students want to come and take a look - drop me a line at jessie@languagelab.com

b said...

what happened to all that technology? I'd love to get my hands on it as there are a lot of creative things to be done with analogue tape! I hope it did not go to landfill....

sinikka said...

Hi b

Long gone without a trace - most likely to a landfill. So sorry, but out of my hands!