Department of Linguistics, Igbo and other Nigerian Languages, University of Nigeria, Nsukka
The perceptions and perspectives of English as a second language (ESL) of teachers on internet-assisted language teaching in Nigeria are examined in this study. A total of 125 ESL teachers in Nigeria, particularly from secondary schools in Enugu State, were chosen as respondents. Questionnaire was used as an instrument for eliciting the respondents’ opinions on the subject matter. The respondents were inquired to air their views on the extent to which internet-assisted language teaching has been explored in Nigeria, students’ attitudes toward internet-assisted language learning, the success of internet-assisted language teaching in Nigeria, and the challenges faced by ESL teachers in Nigeria on internet-assisted language teaching. A quantitative method of data analysis was used to examine the information gathered from the respondents. The result of the analysis shows that internet-assisted language teaching, though not fully in practice in Nigerian secondary schools yet, is a good approach to teaching and learning ESL. Irrespective of its wider preference over the traditional method of teaching ESL, internet-assisted language teaching can make teachers and students lazy because they would hardly create imaginative ideas independently. It is also discovered that there are shortages of computer centres in Nigerian secondary schools; and a large number of teachers and students are still computer illiterates. For internet-assisted language teaching to gain a wider support and patronage in Nigeria secondary schools, computer centres with internet facilities should be established in all schools and colleges in the country.
Keywords: ESL teaching, internet-assisted language teaching, information communication technology, perception, perspective, Enugu state, Nigeria.
Language teaching has, in the modern time, taken a new dimension. With the fast growth of Information Communication Technology (ICT), teachers of English as second language (ESL), for instance, are gradually doing away with the traditional method of teaching embracing the computer and/or internet-assisted language teaching. Even though language teachers in the past were familiar with using some technological instruments to aid their teaching, the advent of the internet has added a new look to the scene of language teaching and learning. Gramophone records (Devies, 2011) were among the first technological-know-how used by ESL teachers in recording native speakers’ voices, and broadcasts from foreign radio stations were also used to make tape recorders for students.
The World Wide Web emerged in the early 1990s, and this marked a drastic change in the use of communication technology for all users of computer. The first introduced graphical web browser was Mosaic in the year 1993, which brought a radical change in the ways in which electronic communications were effectively done (Davies, 1997). This opened up a wide range of opportunities for a good number of authentic foreign-language websites to teachers and students who could use them in diverse ways.
The use of corpora and concordancers as the bases of linguistic research, on the other hand, cannot be disputed. Corpora have, over the years, been used for the compilation of dictionaries and reference books such as Collins Cobuid Series (Levy, 1997). A variety of ways in which corpora can be used in language teaching are described in Tribble & Barlow (2001), Sinclair (2004), McEnery & Wilson (2011). The uses of concordancers in language teaching are enumerated in Higgins & Johns (1984) and many examples of their practical uses in the classroom are described by Lamy & Klarskov (2011).
Johns (1991) raises the profile of the use of concordancers in the language classroom with his concept of data-driven learning (DDL). DDL helps learners to work out their own rules about the meaning of words and their usage by using concordancers to locate examples in a corpus of authentic texts. Language teachers can also use concordancers to find examples of authentic usage to demonstrate a point of grammar or typical collocation and generate exercises based on the examples found. Robb (2003) says that it is possible to use Google as a concordancer, but notes that there are some setbacks to this claim; there is no control over the educational level, nationality or other characteristics of the originators of the texts that are found.
There is no doubt, however, that Web has proved to be the main focus of language teachers who are increasingly making imaginative use of its good number of facilities (Dudeney, 2007; Thomas, 2008). Warschauer, Shetzer & Meloni (2000) observe that internet has reshaped aspects of our society like education, advertising and marketing. A good number of language teachers have turned to using the internet since the advent of the new ICT, which creates diverse learning methods and multimedia materials that can be useful for language teachers (Son, 2007). With the internet facilities, language teachers can make their classes individualized and/or personalized which in turn can lead to self-empowerment in learning (Warschuaer, Turbee & Roberts, 1996).
On the internet, ESL teachers can reinforce students to make use of the target language in authentic and reliable settings (Moore, 1996; Mosquera, 2001; Daugherty & Funke, 1998). The internet facilities are also useful tools for collaboration among ESL learners both locally and internationally (Warschuaer, 2000; Singhal, 1997; Gonglewski, Meloni & Brant, 2001; Pennington, 1996; Ryder & Graves, 1997). Rico & Vinagre (2000) note that e-mail, conferencing tools and newsgroups can make ESL learners exchange knowledge, ideas and perspectives on certain issues. And this increases ESL learners’ motivation to learn the target language.
The fast spread of the use of internet has created new ways and methods of teaching and learning English. It makes authentic learning materials and/or resources available without travelling to English-speaking countries (Son, 2007). Crystal (1997) shows that a good number of pieces of information stored electronically the world over are in English. That is why Son (2007) says that it is imperative for ESL teachers to look at the social, economic, cultural and linguistic implications of the global spread of the English language as it is influenced by the fast development of the internet facilities.
The use of Web tools calls for a careful re-examination of the role of the teacher in the classroom (Richardson, 2006). ESL teachers, therefore, need to learn how to use the internet tools effectively in order to gain more knowledge and develop skills on how they can assist them in teaching the target language.
Purpose of the study
The general objective of this study is to examine the ESL teachers’ perceptions and perspectives on internet-assisted language teaching in Nigeria. Specifically, the study will:
(i) Examine the abilities of ESL teachers in Nigeria on internet-based language teaching
(ii) Elicit ESL teachers’ opinions on teachers’ attitudes toward internet-assisted language learning in Nigeria
(iii) Elicit ESL teachers’ opinions on students’ attitudes toward internet-assisted language learning in Nigeria
(iv) Examine the success recorded over the years by ESL teachers in Nigeria who support their teaching with internet facilities
(v) Examine the challenges faced by ESL teachers on internet-assisted language teaching in Nigeria.
To achieve the set objectives of this study, the following research questions need adequate answers in the end:
(vi) What are the abilities of ESL teachers in Nigeria on internet-based language teaching?
(i) To what extent can ESL teachers in Nigeria explore internet-based language teaching?
(ii) What are the opinions of ESL teachers in Nigeria on teachers’ attitudes towards internet-assisted language teaching?
(iii) What are the opinions of ESL teachers in Nigeria on students’ attitudes towards internet-assisted language learning?
(iv) To what extent has internet-assisted language teaching been successful in Nigeria?
(v) What are the challenges faced by ESL teachers in Nigeria on internet-assisted language teaching?
The subjects in this study were 125 secondary school ESL teachers in Nigeria (65 males and 60 females). The age range of the respondents was from 20-60 years with a mean age of 40. Their teaching experience ranged from less than 3 to more than 20 years with a mean of 11.5 years. The study used questionnaire as an instrument to elicit secondary school ESL teachers’ perceptions and perspectives on internet-assisted language teaching in Nigeria. The questionnaire was made up of six (6) sections: a demographic section which examined the respondents’ background information; the section that followed found out ESL teachers’ opinions on internet-assisted language teaching as against the orthodox method of teaching; section 3 tested the abilities of ESL teachers in Nigeria on internet-based language teaching; section 4 examined ESL teachers’ opinions on students’ attitudes toward internet-assisted language learning; in section 5, teachers’ success in using the internet-based approach to teaching English in Nigeria was examined; the last section (6) examined the challenges faced by ESL teachers on internet-assisted language teaching in Nigeria. The questionnaire was distributed off-line to 125 secondary school English teachers in Enugu State, Nigeria. A total of 120 completed questionnaires were returned after 2 months of distribution, and the data got from the questionnaire were analyzed quantitatively.
The results got from questionnaires distributed to respondents are presented in the tables bellow:
Table 1: General perceptions and perspectives of ESL teachers on internet-assisted language teaching in Nigeria (N – 120).
Table 2: ESL teachers in Nigeria and the exploration of internet-based language teaching (N – 120).
Table 3: ESL teachers’ opinions on students’ attitudes toward internet-assisted language teaching (N – 120).
Table 4: The success of internet-assisted language teaching in Nigeria (N – 120).
Table 5: The challenges faced by ESL teachers on internet-assisted language teaching in Nigeria (N – 120).
Tables 1-5 above show the results of the opinions of our subjects on internet-assisted language teaching in Nigeria through questionnaires distributed to them. Table 1 consists of eight (8) items while tables 2-5 comprise five (5) items each. 120 respondents returned their duly completed questionnaires, and the presentation of the results as seen above was based on the total number of the returned questionnaires (N – 120).
The demographic backgrounds of the respondents show that 115 respondents representing 95.8% of the total number (120) are Nigerians, while 5 (4.7%) of them are non-Nigerians. The percentage age cycles of the respondents are: 20-30 years (25, representing 20.8% of the total number of the respondents); 30-40 years (31, representing 25.8%); 40-50 years (45, representing 35.5%); 50-60 years (19, representing 15.8%). The marital status of the respondents shows that 70% of them are married, while 30% are single. Also, their teaching experience shows that 35.5% of the respondents have been teaching English between 1-10 years, 41.7% of them have been teaching it between 10-20 years, while 20.8% of the respondents have been teaching English for more than 20 years now. 105 (87.5%) respondents are computer literate, while 15 (12.5%) of them are computer illiterate. 95 (79.7%) respondents can make use of internet tools, while 25 (20.5%) of them cannot. 77 (64.7%) respondents have personal computer, while 43 (35.8%) of them do not. 31 (25.8%) respondents indicated that their schools have computer centres, while 89 (74.7%) of them said that their schools do not have computer centres.
The result of the general perceptions and perspectives of ESL teachers on internet-assisted language teaching as presented in table 1 shows that the internet provides a conducive learning environment for nonnative speakers of English. This claim has been strongly testified by 65% of the respondents. 37.5% of the respondents also strongly agreed that internet facilities are best tools for teaching English. However, 37.5% of the respondents strongly disputed the fact that internet materials can best substitute textbooks for English. But 42.5% of them indicated that materials for teaching English are easily found on-line. That on-line materials are cheaper than off-line materials was emphatically discarded by 30.8% of the respondents. 50% of the respondents strongly believed that on-line materials are not reliable, compared to off-line ones. 45.8% of the respondents indicated that internet-based language teaching is preferable to the traditional method. That internet-assisted language teaching makes teachers lazy was agreed by 55% of the respondents. Table 1, therefore, answers research question one.
Table 2 shows the extent to which ESL teachers in Nigeria have explored internet-assisted language teaching. 50% of the total respondents indicated that most teachers of English in Nigeria can effectively make use of the internet. That teachers rely mostly on internet-assisted language teaching was debunked by 35.7% of the respondents. 54.2% of the respondents disbelieved the fact that teachers are now doing away with the orthodox method of teaching due to the fast growth of the internet in Nigeria. That it is easy to access the internet for language teaching in Nigeria was agreed by 49.7% of the respondents. 55% of them opposed the claim that ESL teachers in Nigeria now use the internet to conduct examinations for students. Table 2, on the other hand, answers research question 2.
In table 3, the results of ESL teachers’ opinions on students’ attitudes toward internet-assisted language learning were presented. It is evident that students are motivated by the use of internet facilities in the classroom. This was strongly supported by 54.7% of the respondents. 55.8% of them also emphatically supported the fact that the use of the internet improves upon students’ skills of English. 64.7% of the respondents agreed that students who are computer illiterates feel less interested in an internet classroom. That the use of the internet for language learning makes students lazy was strongly supported by 50.8% of the respondents. Also strongly supported by 55% of the respondents was the fact that e-mailing or chatting with English native speakers on-line improves upon students’ communication skills. It is important to note that table 3 answers research question 3.
The results of ESL teachers’ opinions on the success of internet-assisted language teaching are showed in table 4. 50% of the respondents agreed that most teachers of English in Nigeria have access to internet facilities. That teaching English has been made easy in Nigeria as a result of internet tools was supported 45% of the respondents. 54% of them accepted the claim that the rates at which students learn English in Nigeria has been increased by the use of the internet facilities. It has also been emphatically agreed by 45% of the respondents that ESL teachers can now motivate their students by the use of internet in the classroom. That the rate at which students fail English in Nigeria has been minimized by internet-assisted language teaching or learning was strongly supported by 45.8% of the respondents. Research question 4 has, therefore, been answered by table 4.
The challenges faced by ESL teachers on internet-assisted language teaching as indicated by our respondents are enumerated in table 5. 62.5% of the respondents totally agreed that there are shortages of computer centres in Nigerian secondary schools. A total of 12.5% of them strongly agreed that they are computer illiterates and that contributes to their inability to make use of internet facilities for teaching. That financial constraint contributes greatly to the inability of ESL teachers to access internet in Nigeria was disagreed by 48.3% of the respondents. It was agreed by 58.3% of the respondents that on-line materials are not always totally reliable. That students who are computer illiterates could reduce the pace of internet-based classes was emphatically supported by 67.5% of the respondents. The result presented in table 5 on the challenges of ESL teachers on internet-assisted language teaching in Nigeria answers research question 5.
Suffice it to say that the general perceptions and perspectives of ESL teachers on internet-assisted language teaching in Nigeria are positive. It is believed that the use of internet is an effective approach to teaching English because it provides students with a rich learning environment. Students could also improve upon their communication skills through the use of internet. The use of internet facilities for language teaching, therefore, is a shift from the traditional teacher-centred classroom to the learner-centred classroom and this is a modern pedagogical preference in ESL teaching and learning.
It is important, however, to note that even though internet-assisted language teaching or learning is as good as we may think the need to scrutinize on-line materials cannot be compromised. The fact remains that the sources of some on-line materials are questionable, and that is why Robb (2003) notes that there is sometimes no control over the educational backgrounds of authors of on-line texts.
This study has examined the perceptions and perspectives of ESL teachers on internet-assisted language teaching in Nigeria. The responses from our subjects show that using internet facilities to teach English as second language is veritable. For internet-assisted language teaching to gain enough ground in Nigeria, therefore, there is need for computer centres to be built in all, especially, government owned secondary schools. This will create more opportunities for teachers and students to familiarize themselves with computer or internet facilities. The world is, in the modern time, dynamic information-wise and the need to carry all teachers and learners of English in Nigeria along cannot be disputed.
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Mbah, E. E., & Ayegba, M. (2013). ESL Teachers’ Perspectives on Internet-assisted Language Teaching. Open Science Repository Language and Linguistics, Online(open-access), e70081920. doi:10.7392/Research.70081920
Mbah, Evelyn E., and Monday Ayegba. “ESL Teachers’ Perspectives on Internet-assisted Language Teaching.” Open Science Repository Language and Linguistics Online.open-access (2013): e70081920.
Mbah, Evelyn E., and Monday Ayegba. “ESL Teachers’ Perspectives on Internet-assisted Language Teaching.” Open Science Repository Language and Linguistics Online, no. open-access (January 25, 2013): e70081920. http://www.open-science-repository.com/esl-teachers-perspectives-on-internet-assisted-language-teaching1.html.
Mbah, E.E. & Ayegba, M., 2013. ESL Teachers’ Perspectives on Internet-assisted Language Teaching. Open Science Repository Language and Linguistics, Online(open-access), p.e70081920. Available at: http://www.open-science-repository.com/esl-teachers-perspectives-on-internet-assisted-language-teaching1.html.
1. Mbah, E. E. & Ayegba, M. ESL Teachers’ Perspectives on Internet-assisted Language Teaching. Open Science Repository Language and Linguistics Online, e70081920 (2013).
1. E. E. Mbah, M. Ayegba, ESL Teachers’ Perspectives on Internet-assisted Language Teaching, Open Science Repository Language and Linguistics Online, e70081920 (2013).
Research registered in the DOI resolution system as: 10.7392/Research.70081920.