Sunday, 12 February 2012


Today I was reading about the Dead Sea Scrolls, which were discovered in many pieces.  The first people to work on them decided to use a new wonder-product - Sellotape - to join the pieces together.  The only problem is that the Sellotape was far more destructive to the Scrolls than they could ever have imagined, and much of the current preservation work is spent trying to put right the wrong done to the delicate parchments by the Sellotape.

This made me think of the use of technology as a magical remedy for the improvement of language teaching.  It may improve things in the short-term, but then we may spend a disproportionate amount of time later on trying to put right the wrongs that it has done by its improper or careless use.

It also brings to mind what Gove is doing with education at the moment.  Using new wonder-solutions, the latest trendy ideas, to stick together the pieces of a system that needs improvement.  But for how long are we going to be painstakingly cleaning off the residues of this botched attempt?


  1. But technology has been and continues to be magical for the improvement of language teaching. Let's not forget a fountain pen is technology, so are A4 paper, cassette players (remember them?), CDs and DVDs.

    Technology has allowed our students to listen to authentic voices and access authentic materials. And now the internet allows us to bring the world into our classrooms.

    Sellotape is and continues to be an amazing product. If anyone puts it to bad use, it's not the technology's fault.

    In our context, as it has often been said before: it's not the tech, it's the teach that matters.

  2. Thanks for your comment, José. I agree entirely that judicious and appropriate use of technology can magically enhance MFL teaching. However, a series of "sit down and make a PowerPoint" lessons conceived merely to tick a box on a scheme of learning will ultimately do more harm than good. As you say, it's all about using new things appropriately and with a careful eye on the long term. We shouldn't just use it because it's there, but because it is the right solution to a given problem. So we are definitely singing from the same hymn sheet. It struck me as an interesting analogy and one which would creature discussion. Which it has.