Netbooks in sixth-grade English language classrooms
AbstractAs netbook computers are becoming an attractive option for K-12 educators, they have the potential to be a more integral part of language learning. In this study 45 sixth graders in two classes used netbooks to learn English as a second language. Forty-four students in two other classes served as the control group who received traditional instruction. It was found that the use of netbooks encouraged the instructor to design more innovative learning activities which greatly enhanced student engagement in learning. The activities provided students with much more opportunities to practice listening and speaking. A questionnaire survey and individual interviews showed that the netbook-using students not only liked English language class more and were more attentive during class but were more confident in being able to learn English language well. It was also revealed that the netbook-using students significantly outscored their non-netbook-using counterparts. These encouraging findings confirm the potential benefits of netbooks in language classrooms. However, this study also discovers some possible problems of implementing netbook-supported learning activities, including increased classroom inefficiencies caused by unstable network connectivity and slow boot and application load time, the increased anxiety felt by the participating teacher, and the extra effort needed to gain parental support on the use of netbooks in class.
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