our words make worlds

Debate 4: Has the digital world revolutionised language pedagogy?

21 March 2018, 6–7.30pm, Bush House (Room NE 0.01), King’s College London, Bush House, 30 Aldwych, London, WC2B 4BG 

Chairs: Dr Ana Maria Sousa Aguiar de Medeiros and Dr Cristina Ros i Solé 

The use of technology and the digital world in language pedagogy is often seen as a challenge: a brave new world (Blake 2018) that urges teachers and learners to come out of their comfort zone to keep up with ‘digital natives’ (Prensky 2001) and learn a whole new set of literacies (Pegrum 2009). Whether this is true of virtual environments, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), or the convenience, ubiquity and wearability of mobile technology, digital learning has undoubtedly changed the way we experience languages. 

Despite the magnitude and pace at which technology advances, teachers and learners are enthusiastically embracing this new brave digital world. Whether it is through the creativity and authorship that the use of editing software affords, the power of concordancing software to dissect and make discoveries about language and its use, we are beginning to see new ways to approach the world of Modern Language learning. On the other hand, the availability of a wide array of commercial language learning applications that combine different aspects of social media, gaming, GPS technology, traditional grammar references, self-assessment, and tracking devices, to mention just a few, are still keeping to the pedagogical principles in off-line environments. 

Beyond the ‘wow’ factor (Bax 2011), we need to wonder whether the digital world is really that radical. In other words; 

  • Is digital language learning teaching us something new about language teaching and learning? 
  • Have the roles of language learners and teachers changed? 
  • Have digital natives’ needs changed? 
Are we witnessing a pedagogical revolution? 

Speakers: Mirjam Hauck (Senior Lecturer, School of Languages and Applied Linguistics, Open University) & Antonio Martínez-Arboleda (Principal Teaching Fellow in Spanish, University of Leeds) 

Discussants: Sibylle Nalezinski (IT and Multimedia Support Officer, UCL), Carlos Montoro (Post-Doctoral Research, Diasporic Identities strand of Language Acts and Worldmaking) 

A drinks reception will take place in Bush House room NE -1.01 (basement) from 7:30–8pm 

View the programme for this event here

Debate papers

Read the papers from this debate here:

Antonio Martínez-Arboleda

Sibylle Nalezinski 

Carlos Montoro

Read the blog post for this debate by Carlos Montoro here and Alice Hazard here

We would also like to invite you to attend a roundtable discussion organised by one of our speakers, Antonio Martínez-Arboleda. Technology-enabled Language Education for Migrants and Refugees in the UK will take place on Wednesday 11th April at the Migration Museum. Sign up for this event here