Language laboratory is not much discerned by academic communities in certain institutions. The use of it is still limited for lecturing listening skills nothing else. After the listening classes, the strange classroom circumstance may be far from academic touching. There are only several academic figures especially those who handle listening classes giving a little care for its functions. Most of the lectures, even though, never steal a glance at the functions. Even, some of them do not understand where is it and what does it look like. This is ironical; but this is the fact.
Lectures and students do not intensify the use of laboratory for several reasons. The first is the narrow comprehension of its function. They just understand that laboratory is used to teach listening skills so they are only listening lecturers who commit to care for and use it. The second is because they have not needed the existence yet. They are immediately to concern with its existence, however, when they are demanded to master those skills. Like or dislike, they should be familiar with the laboratory because the use of it is more helpful rather than the conventional tape recorder.
Actually, lectures and students may not only use laboratory for sharpening the listening ability. They can use it for several field of studies or disciplines for instance for training pronunciation, spelling, dictation, repetition, drills, pairing, plugging, telephoning and the other oral or aural practices as speaking, reading, and writing. If the lecturers and students are able to make use it in such activities, the existence of it will be more advantageous. In addition, the providing of it will not be superfluous because it is very expensive to set this modern teaching equipment.
Harmer (2001) identifies several advantaged of laboratory as follows:
The double track allows students to discriminate the way they say things with the correct pronunciation on a source tape. In the way, they are able to check and get feedback of their own performance, although there is no intervention from their teacher.
Students are able to talk each other through their microphones, record into the tape wind and rewind tapes or type on computer keyboards without bothering their colleagues. Since every student is protected by his or her headphones, their privacy is guaranteed; and they are free from intrusion that the work of others would cause in a conventional classroom setting.
– Individual attention
If teachers want to speak to individual students in a laboratory, they are able to do so from console. This is different from the classroom situation by which the talk should stop the students from working with the rest of the class. Therefore, the attention is difficult to gain. In laboratory, all students are working away with their own business. The attention the teachers to a student will never distract the others.
– Learner training
Language laboratory assists to train some students to listen to what they say and how they should say it. When they distinguish their pronunciation with the correct version on the tape, they begin to notice the differences. This is fortunate because this may elicit awareness helping them to hear and pronounce English better.
Not all students have the same ability to discriminate sounds. Different students have different aptitude at hearing sounds. Therefore, teachers need to guide individual students to acknowledge their weaknesses and stimulate them to be better by individual and continual practices.
– Learner motivation
Laboratory may provide learning autonomy for certain students. This is because some students are better at learning by their own than others. The language laboratory offers a good halfway relation between teacher control and learner autonomy. Although they work at their own pace but they need more open guidance from their teacher in console.
The five advantages of laboratory mentioned above are non-linguistically reviewed. The linguistics function of it, as matter of fact, is clear because it is not only to provide listening lectures. Almost language skills and their components can be set at laboratory depending upon the comprehension of the laboratory and the need of it. For that reasons, lecturers and students need to realize the existence and function of it and make use it for better progress in language learning.
Contributor: Ruwandi, MA