Australian Review of Applied Linguistics, Vol 37, No 1 (2014)

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CINDERELLA’S COACH OR JUST ANOTHER PUMPKIN? INFORMATION COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGIES AND THE CONTINUING MARGINALISATION OF LANGUAGES IN AUSTRALIAN SCHOOLS

Lindy Norris, Penelope Coutas

Abstract


The rhetoric around global connectedness and advances in information communication technologies (ICTs) suggests that: Professional life for the marginalised and isolated language teacher should be easier; the experience of language learners in Australian schools should be more meaningful and bring them closer to the languages and communities that they are studying; and collectively thisshould be empowering for students and teachers and, in turn, empower the languages learning area with respect to its status and place within the curriculum. This paper examines these assumptions through a qualitative multiple case study investigation of the use of information communicationtechnologies (ICTs) in secondary school language classes. The study explores the perceptions and experiences of early adolescent language learners and those of their teachers. It also identifies and examines a range of contextual factors that both complicate and nuance the technology andlanguages learning nexus. The findings of the study question the assumption of ‘automaticity’ associated with ICTs and an enhanced/improved language learning experience for all those involved. This study finds that experience with technologies can impact negatively on both learners andteachers. This, in turn, can have an adverse influence on perceptions about languages and their status in schools. At a time when schools are investing heavily in information communication technologies, and when they are having to manage the introduction of the Australian Curriculum:Languages, the findings of this study serve to highlight the place of the ‘critical’ in terms of languages in Australian schools.

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