Son/Return of Language Lab Revisited

A plan for a presentation in the early 2000’s on using the Internet to teach writing–April 2021

Mindmap transcribed:



Definition 1

Machines and other useful products of modern science, eg computers, clothing

Definition 2 generalization or original?

Tools, skills based on knowledge, eg reading and writing, the monkey with a stick

Definition 3 techne, education

What we do to teach (based on knowledge, but do we know what we are doing?)

Is everything we do technology?

↑ Not useful, not new


  • groupwork (learning from self, more than from teacher)
  • games (fun, learning is not goal–are important)
  • but not praying, not lecturing

Language lab

Recording–tape recorders

  Teacher not model, tape
  Distance education–University of Air
  From front to by side
  The intimacy of a telephone conversation
  Traditional class and at same time have
  one-on-one telephone conversations with
  all participants

My experience

Teaching (not learning) in language lab

Using Internet lists in class at Soonchunhyang, Chinmin

Taiwan Teachers List

500 emails a day

Taping in conversation class

Presentation proposal

The presenter is a successful user of email lists and the owner of a successful list for teachers in Taiwan. But although he has been able to get students to post to email lists, he has had less success with email lists for students.

This workshop will be a cooperative search for the reasons why with junior college students and for ways to make email lists effective. Along the way, questions which will be discussed are:

  1. What is technology
  2. How does the Internet differ from the language lab
  3. How do computers differ from life and from teaching
  4. How do we motivate junior college students to use English

The position of the presenter will be that the Internet is not the answer. A note of pessimism will be struck concerning the possibility of the Internet becoming a new language learning method. He does see a role for the Internet, however. His hope is that dialogue will be helpful in efforts to place this role.


There’s a lot of excitement about the Internet and in particular the feeling that in the future it’s going to change language learning. The idea seems to be that has not changed language learning yet, it will change it soon. That is, people seem to feel the Internet PROMISES to make language learning better.

The fact that we are dealing with a hope about the future of language learning suggests it would be a good idea to look together at the history of another technological movement in language learning, the language lab, and see how it delivered on its promise.

The Internet is not the language lab but we need to compare the Internet with other educational technologies to analyze the problems we face turning our excitement about the Internet into better language learning for students.

Comparing the Internet and the old listening lab will allow us to make clear some of the things we will have to do to make the Internet an effective way to teach writing. Even if things don’t become clear, discussion together often leads to us striking sparks or bright ideas off each other, generating new ideas in us about educational technology.

Personally, despite using the Internet to teach writing here and at a university in Korea, I don’t know if it is delivering on its promise or not. I get 500 emails a day. I am an email addict. I run a successful email list for Taiwan teachers of English.

Is that it?