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					Thesis Proposal The impact of internet activities on Armenian EFL learners
Student: Naira Stepanyan Instructor: Robert Agajeenian
Hossein Farhady Reader: Liliana Edilian

American University of Armenia Department of English Programs
Winter 2009/02/20

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Abstract
Computers and the Internet are so widespread today that one feels outdated and unimportant if not using them. They may help teachers in making language learning faster, easier and more engaging, and help create an optimal language learning environment. The objective of this thesis is to present the research done on computer assisted language learning (hereinafter: CALL) and then try to describe how this will be implemented in the classroom, i.e. utilizing the treatment with the help of on-line internet activities. The treatment will be implemented on the EEC students. These students are from 12 to 14 year old children, who have midintermediate proficiency level of English and know how to deal with computers in general. This is for the first time that EEC students are going to learn English not only with books, tapes and other visual aids, but also with the assistance of computer. They will follow the syllabus of the course via ready computer programs. The effectiveness of this treatment will be revealed through tests (pre, mid and post), attitudinal survey via compositions and self – assessment sheets. This research will promote better understanding of the usefulness of using computer in Armenian EFL settings.

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Introduction
The topic that I am going to study has been much discussed in the field of language learning but, as many researchers state in their articles, there is not enough empirical evidence. My primary purpose is to determine to what extent the on-line internet activities are useful through special treatment (teaching language with the help of on-line internet activities) and also to see the advantages and disadvantages of this treatment. A secondary purpose is to see whether the computer is the main factor in CALL or there are also other factors like teacher, environment and time. In our Armenian setting, despite the glamour of technology which teachers can see in films or read in articles, they are still far from using technology (i.e. computers) at schools or even at universities. Computer use is always associated with problems such as: 1. bad connection, 2. slow browsing, 3. some students do not post any responses if not prompted by the instructor and if the instructor does not post new topics, post a sample response, and give marks, 4. some students do not take online instruction seriously, 5. using the internet as a learning tool may not be part of some students‟ culture. Some are so used to traditional instruction that depends on the book. This idea also share Al‐Jarf and Reima Sado (2005) Computer assisted language teaching and learning is novice and not developed in Armenia, so this study can serve as a support to find out whether it is worth using computers and online internet activities in classroom settings or not. The study is significant for several reasons: 1. to show that on-line activities through internet can be of great use for students, 2. to show that students will have the opportunity to become more autonomous,

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3. to show that there is a false conception that on-line activities decrease or totally ignore the role of teacher in students‟ language learning. Similar experiences are reported by Al‐Jarf and Reima Sado (2005) During this study I will try to answer the following research questions:  Does computer assisted language learning have any effect on students‟ achievement of learning English?  Does the continuous practice with computer motivate students to use computer for language learning beyond the classroom?

Through literature review I will try to cover some of the points mentioned above, and then I will describe how the whole process of the study will be conducted.

Literature review
Due to the current status of English as a global language of science, technology, and international relations, many countries around the world consider the teaching of English a major educational priority (Crystal 1997; McKay 2000, in Mayora). However, English as a Foreign Language (EFL) is often taught under unfavorable conditions, and, as a result, high school graduates are not always competent users of English (Mayora, Vol. 44, No. 3). EFL teachers in South America, Asia, Africa, and elsewhere, for whom this situation is probably familiar, can profit by sharing information about the problems they encounter and by investigating the various alternatives available to improve EFL instruction. One important alternative is to take advantage of the continuing advances in multimedia technology and to make an effort to integrate this technology with in-class instruction. There are facts that indicate that multimedia technology can help with some difficulties associated with the EFL situation, such as large class sizes and mixed-ability classrooms. Better results have been achieved with training students to be autonomous learners while using multimedia

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technology for EFL instruction. This explains the growing number of schools with facilities for students to access computers (Mayora, Vol. 44, No. 3). As Todman says “Computer skills are key qualification in the professional world” (Todman, 2000, in Koch 2008). There have been several pieces of research done on CALL. Early studies in the field tried to compare so-called traditional courses to computer-assisted courses. The effort has proven futile (Hanson-Smith 1999, p. 1). They came to the conclusion that there is no single or unified traditional method, nor is there a single or unified approach to CALL. On the other hand these studies stated that there was no need even to compare paper-and-chalkboard classes to computer-mediated classes as “computer mediation changes far too many variables in types of tasks and individual motivation. In addition, such comparisons imply that computers could perform the functions of teachers, which, in most respects, they do not”. (Egbert, Chao, and Hanson-Smith 1999, in Hanson-Smith 2007,1). These three researchers claim that in case after case, teachers report that integrating technology into instruction goes beyond merely changing the media for completing course tasks and delivering assignments. Instead, students are engaging in authentic learning projects (e.g., slide shows, photo Weblogs and video productions) that are facilitated by the use of technology, and they are involved in quite different processes than more traditional forms of paper-based research and writing. Hanson-Smith (2007) also states that although there is much excitement generated by the use of color, sound, and video in software and over the Internet, “the chief failing of multimedia thus far has been the lack of appropriate pedagogy. Media are used to get the students' attention or keep them interested to entertain rather than to support cognition and memory. Its chief advantage is the possibility for instant error checking and scoring”(Hanson –Smith 2007, p.2). Other advantages that a lot of researchers (Warschauer and Hanson Smith, in hanson Smith and Rilling, 2007) mention in different articles are the following: computers are

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patient, they speak clearly, and they don't give off subtexts implying that the user is dumb. However, the current success of multimedia software may be that the student feels safe with the computer (especially among shy students) or students may do well on the drill software, but not show marked improvement in real life written and oral communication. However, most classrooms around the world are still four walls, desks and chairs, and a chalkboard. The teacher and the textbook are relied upon as the primary inputs, models, and sources of interaction. So, researchers like Hanson-Smith and Warschauer state (in HansonSmith 2007, 2) that even just a small use of technology in terms of Internet can be very useful. Through internet and on-line activities the whole world can be brought into the classroom and students can interact over the Internet with other learners and native speakers. “The computer has the potential to allow individuals to use the learning styles they prefer, and to proceed through programmed learning at their own pace, with instant correction, explanation, and reinforcement. These advantages to technology are not sufficient to learn a language, however, and they are certainly not all the computer has to offer. In this case, the four walls of the classroom not only are enlarged but are put into the student's conscious control” (Hanson-Smith, 2007,2) Nevertheless, despite the advantages the computer possesses, it will not replace teachers because it cannot do most of the significant things teachers can: lesson planning, individual counseling, preparation and selection of materials, evaluation of process and product, and so on (Al‐Jarf and Reima Sado, 2005) As mentioned above we can conclude that in CALL both teachers and students‟ roles change:

Teachers
“Although the integration of CALL into a foreign language program can lead to great anxiety among language teachers, researchers consistently claim that CALL changes,

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sometimes radically, the role of the teacher but does not eliminate the need for a teacher altogether” (Leigh, 2007,1). Instead of being directly involved in students‟ constructions of the language, the teacher interacts with students primarily to facilitate difficulties in using the target language (grammar, vocabulary, etc.) to interact with the computer and/or other people. (Sado, 2005) According to Jonita (2002) elimination of a strong teacher presence has been shown to lead to larger quantity and better quality of communication such as more fluidity and more use of complex sentences. However, teacher presence is still very important to students when doing CALL activities. As teacher guides them while doing the activities or conducts review sessions to reinforce what was learned “most students report that they prefer to do work in a lab with a teacher‟s or tutor‟s presence rather than completely on their own” (Jonita, 2002).

Students
According to Jonita (2002) students also need to adjust their expectations of their participation in the class in order to use CALL effectively. Here, learners must negotiate meaning and assimilate new information through interaction and collaboration with someone other than the teacher, be that person a classmate or someone outside of the classroom entirely. Learners must also learn to interpret new information and experiences on their own terms. “However, because the use of technology redistributes teachers‟ and classmates‟ attentions, less-able or shy students can become more active participants in the class because class interaction is not limited to that directed by the teacher” (Jonita, 2002). This will raise their self-esteem and their knowledge will be improved. .Having already enough data we can come to a hypothesis: Computer assisted language learning has effect on students‟ achievement of learning English.

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Methods Participants
Participants of the study are 28 EEC (Experimental English Classes) students. The students are divided into two groups based on the placement test. The level of the students is mid-intermediate and the age is from 12 to 14. The syllabus is the same in both groups.

Procedure
The classes in the control group will be carried out in computer lab (9d) at American University of Armenia. If the students need instructions about how to use the computer the instructions will be given. Classes will take place twice a week for 2 hours. In both groups the same syllabus will be used (the readings and grammar). One hour of the class time will be in the computer lab the other hour in the classroom. At the beginning of the classes both groups will have pre test, and then in the middle of the term progress test. At the end of the term both groups will be given post test. The results of the tests will be analyzed and tabulated with the help of SPSS program to answer the research questions.

Results and Discussion
I expect to see a beneficial outcome from this treatment and hope that this will not only develop learners‟ knowledge but also help them become more autonomous learners, and be motivated to go and do such kind of activities after classes too. This research will serve to

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help understand students‟ attitude towards technology, and whether it can be useful to start implementing CALL in Armenian settings.

Limitations
There are several limitations that we can‟t avoid, they are the following: first the number of students. There will be only 28 students including the comparison group. This number is less than the threshold level of 30 participants. Second, time will be short to have more valid data and results. Finally it would be better to have the same teacher in both groups.

Conclusion
Concluding my proposal I would like to mention that I have great expectations from this treatment which will prove that computer assisted language learning is very important and very helpful for learners. If my research turns out to assert the benefits of computer assisted language learning I will suggest using computers and on-line internet activities as an alternative way of teaching. For further research I will recommend that a longitudinal research be conducted and with the same teacher in both control and comparison groups.

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References
Al‐Jarf & Reima Sado (2005). Use of Technology in No‐Tech EFL Classrooms. Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference on English Language Studies 3 (ICELS 3). Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Braganorte, M.(2005) Self-Access Study and Cooperative Foreign Language Learning through Computers Linguagem & Ensino, Vol. 8, No. 2, 2005 (145-169) Domingo N. (2007) Computer- assisted language learning: Increase of freedom of submission to machines. Fox, G. (1998). „The Internet: making it work in the ESL classroom‟. The Internet TESL Journal, 4/9 Hanson-Smith, Z. & Rilling S. (2007) Learning Languages through Technology Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, Inc. (TESOL) Hatch & Farhady, (1981) Research Design and Statistics Los Angeles, University of California. Jonita, S. (2002). "Students perceptions on language learning in a technological environment: Implications for the new millennium". Language Learning and Technology Koch S. and Muller S. (2008) Women and computers. Effects of stereotype threat on attribution of failure. Computers & Education 51 (2008) 1795–1803 Leigh, T. (2007). "The Computers Are Coming … Are Here!". TESOL Greece Newsletter 95. Mayora (no date) Integrating Multimedia Technology in a High School EFL Program, Vol. 44, No. 3 Sado R. & Jarf A. (2005). Use of Technology in No-Tech EFL Classrooms. Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference on English Language Studies 3 (ICELS 3). Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Singhal, M. (1997). „The Internet and foreign language education: benefits and challenges’. The Internet TESL Journal 3/6. Warschauer M. (2008) Computer Assisted Language Learning: an Introduction. Warschauer, M. (1997) „The Internet for English Teaching: guidelines for teachers’. TESL Reporter, 30/1: 27-33.

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Zaphiris, Panayiotis (Editor). User-Centered Computer Aided Language Learning. Hershey, PA, USA: Information Science Publishing, 2005. p 117. http://site.ebrary.com/lib/auarmenia/Doc?id=10103948&ppg=129

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