Magazine 2013
International Peer-Reviewed Journal  
RH, VOL. 3 JULY 2013  
Impact Of Technology On English  
Language And Its Teaching  
Vagishwari Gore  
This paper focuses on the advancement in technology that took place in the 21 century. The  
major role played by the computer in the teaching-learning process. It discusses how the English  
language itself has undergone drastic change with regards to spelling, grammar and punctuation  
marks. Many new words have been added to the vocabulary of English language and how it has  
affected the teaching of English language also.  
Keywords - Computer, Spelling, Grammar, Punctuation, Vocabulary  
The saying “Change is the only constant thing in the world” seems to be very very true in the 21 century.  
The world is constantly changing and ways in which we function at home, work and school are also changing.  
The speed at which technology has developed plays a major role in these changes. From e-mail to on-line  
classes, computers are definitely influential in our lives, and can change the learning process in schools in  
various ways. Computers are essential in education because they force us to reconsider how people learn, how  
they are empowered, and what the nature of learning and useful information is. We cannot avoid the presence  
of computers in our schools because they are forcing educators to re-evaluate the very nature of what and how  
we teach.  
But before that lets consider the role of English in present day India. For almost two centuries now,  
English has been playing an important role in our educational system as well as in our national life. It is  
generally held that the British introduced English in our educational system to produce cheap clerks for their  
colonial administration. The learning of English which this system emphasized proved beneficial in more than  
one way. Today English is the only language which is understood by the educated people all over the country.  
Without English both official and private communication between many parts of the country will be completely  
cut off.  
The Indian Education Commission (1964-66) has also recommended the continuance of English in the  
interest of national integration and for higher academic work. It is therefore apparent that English must continue  
as a national link language for quite some time to come.  
Apart from being the native or first language in countries as widely apart as the United Kingdom, the  
United States of America, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa, English is an important second  
language almost everywhere in the world. Even in India it is not only a popular second language but also the  
mother-tongue of a small Indian community.  
Because of this great popularity and worldwide distribution, English has the pre-eminent claim to be the  
medium of international communication. In fact, English has ceased to be the language of its native speakers  
only- it has already attained the stature of a world language. If a person knows English, he is sure to be  
understood anywhere in the world. With the tremendous advance in modern transport and communication  
systems, the world is growing smaller and smaller. Today we are in a closer contact with different parts of the  
world than our forefathers could even dream of. To express our views in the comity of nations and to develop  
trade, commerce and diplomatic relations with other countries we need to have a common medium of  
communication. A common language is also a great cementing force; for it is through a mutually intelligible  
language that nations can better understand each other.  
English is therefore going to play an important role in world affairs and it will be to our own advantage if  
we continue to learn English as an important foreign language.  
International Peer-Reviewed Journal  
RH, VOL. 3 JULY 2013  
For the first time in history there are more non-native than native users of the language and diversity of context  
in terms of learners’ age, nationality, learning background etc has become a defining characteristic of ELT  
today. What are the implications of this?  
In India, English is the medium of instruction and also taught as a second language. English language  
teaching has been with us for many years and its significance continues to grow, fueled partially by the internet  
In pre-Internet days the role of the computer did not fundamentally influence the language itself and it is only  
with the arrival of the Internet (and related technologies such as text-messaging on mobile phones) that computers  
began to significantly change language.  
The dominance of English in the internet needs no arguing for. Computers are in any case English-  
oriented. Netscape and Java are in English; the vocabulary of computing and of the internet is overwhelmingly  
English. The search engines are in English and are in the US. The reasons for the dominance of English are firstly  
historical –the internet began in the USA, which is still the leading user of it and the USA is an English using  
Computers have historically contributed to ELT with both pedagogical applications and by helping us  
understand the nature of the language; however, it is suggested that the Internet, and the resulting Computer  
Mediated Communication (CMC), has now gone way beyond this to change the language itself.  
The English language is changing, the grammar, spelling, pronunciation, or the very vocabulary of the  
language is changing  
When we first learned basic grammar and spelling, perhaps in elementary school, we might have gotten  
the impression that these things were sacred. The rules that apply to such things might have been presented as  
unchanging and unchangeable. The English language, like many others, is a living, growing, ever-loving thing.  
This has been true from its beginning. It continues to be true today.  
These changes take many forms. Grammar and spelling have changed radically over the years and  
centuries, with the spelling differences in different countries today a reflection of this.  
Another change in language involves the addition and removal of words. The makers of dictionaries  
decide which words deserve to be officially adopted as part of the English language. Through the centuries,  
many words have come from other languages. In fact, English has probably done this more than any other  
language in the world, which is why spelling and pronunciation rules for English have so many exceptions. If  
you look at the website ‘Words Borrowed from Other Languages’ you’ll probably be amazed by the once-  
foreign words that you commonly use without realizing it.  
English constantly renews itself by borrowing, coining, and combining words to fit new ideas and new  
developments, and that process has never been more apparent than in this, the last decade of the 20 century.  
Social and technological change, political and economic developments, new ways of working, leisure and  
sport, fashion and popular music, medicine, psychology, ecology, and even new types of crime all produce  
new words to express new ideas.  
The Internet (of which CMC forms a major aspect) is changing the language partly because it gives rise  
to new vocabulary, but more importantly because the medium and its users drive the language in certain  
directions (Crystal, 2001). The following verbs are just one illustration of the influences on vocabulary, they all  
either meant different things, or did not exist, only a few year ago; to … email, text, boot, chat, surf, bookmark,  
e-shop, Google, etcetera. More fundamentally, the Internet is changing language, a ‘Netspeak’ and a ‘Netiquette’  
is emerging, the former refers to a language variant, the latter to the conventions which surround its use. This  
changing language is rapidly evolving and does not have a long history to inform syllabus designers and ELT  
practitioners. Emails do not have, and arguably do not need, to follow punctuation conventions. Typos and  
spelling mistakes are also, depending on context, more acceptable with this medium.  
International Peer-Reviewed Journal  
RH, VOL. 3 JULY 2013  
To what extent should we allow this to influence the language content of emails in our teaching?  
Furthermore, synchronous emails, those in real time chat forums (e.g. MSN), are a kind of unique text version of  
spoken English and the language generated from this, along with text messaging on mobile phones, is at times  
completely different to anything else that we have hitherto known. For example  
If you need to get rid of that annoying Facebook friend with whom you were never really friends in the first  
place, you’re in luck. There’s an actual verb for that.  
The New Oxford American Dictionary named “Unfriend” 2009’s word of the year (“Unfriend”).  
The communication technology on which so many people rely today carries with it a slew of new words.  
“Text,” “Google,” and even “YouTube” are used as verbs. As new technologies arise, their users must invent new  
words or adapt old ones in order to communicate about their new methods of communication. Inevitably,  
technological terms are creeping into dictionaries  
The language generated from the text messaging on mobile phones, is at times completely different to  
anything else that we have hitherto known. The spellings used while sending smses are quite different. You is no  
longer spelt as you but only a letter from the alphabet ‘u’, ‘because’ has become ‘coz’, ‘for’ is now written as a  
number ‘4’, ‘the’ is letter ‘d’ and ‘have’ has got a new spelling ‘hav’. These are only a few examples.  
Google’ the name of a search engine is used as a transitive verb. ’SMS’ the short form of ‘Short Service  
Message’ is used as a verb and SMSing, SMSed are the different forms of that verb. It is used as a noun too and  
has got a plural as smses. How a short form can be used as a verb or a noun is beyond my comprehension. But  
that is the specialty of English language, adaptability, ability to change with time, adding new words to its  
ocean of words. That is what has made English a global language. That is why it is jokingly said that English is  
an ‘additional language’.  
Let’s see the effect of the advancement in technology on teaching of English.  
An advantage of having computer-assisted instruction in the classroom is that the computer can serve us  
as a tutor. Teachers can only aid students in the learning process so far. Computers can assist teachers  
and act as a tutor for the students who are falling behind. It allows learning at one’s own pace. Teachers  
do not have the time to repeat lessons over and over again. Computer can do that for the student  
Computer technology is a positive supplement to bridge the gap between education and the technological  
world in which we live. Computer-assisted technologies in schools offer students greater access to  
information, an eager motivation to learn, a jump-start on marketable job skills and an enhanced quality  
of class work.  
It dispels the monotony of practice work by creating variety. They can introduce a play element in  
serious work and make lessons lively. Even the introduction of a readymade substitution table at the right  
moment in a grammar lesson can enliven the class.  
There are some disadvantages or limitations to the use of technology too.  
Many people argue the computer does all the work for the students, not allowing them the opportunity  
to digest what they have learned and that the computer takes more of the thinking process out of  
Many people who grew up in the pre-computer age worry that the use of computers will take the emotion  
and heart out of the classroom. Their main argument against computers in the classroom is that teachers  
need to take into account the importance of student emotions. They do not want the quick evolution of  
computer technology to interfere with the student’s need for human support that they receive from the  
teacher based instruction  
International Peer-Reviewed Journal  
RH, VOL. 3 JULY 2013  
In a country where the vast majority of the schools do not have even the minimum essential furniture like  
desks and benches in their classrooms, having a computer in every school or college seems next to  
impossible. Then we have the problem of irregular power supply too.  
Another problem is that not all the teachers are they cannot use the computers effectively.  
Let’s now see its impact on the teaching of English.  
Tele- communication i.e. e-mail, internet, fax etc is the new topic included in the syllabus of English.  
English teachers have started using ‘Language lab’, to teach correct pronunciation, intonation and  
stress to their students. This word language lab itself is new to English teachers. Till now this word was  
associated with the Science subjects only.  
Informal letter writing has stopped today. We don’t write letters wishing for birthdays or sending invitations  
to our friends and telatives. We just make a phone call or send an SMS.  
The concept of ‘Handwriting’ has changed drastically. Right from our K.G.classes we have been constantly  
reminded by our parents and teachers the importance of good handwriting. Many companies and  
corporate offices prefer to have a handwritten application for job as handwriting reveals a lot about an  
individual’s personality. Handwriting experts are appointed by many companies to help them select the  
right candidate. But with the concept of ‘paperless office’ handwriting will be a thing of past.  
English teachers will have to become techno-savvy.  
The Internet, as these simple examples show, is clearly impacting upon the ways in which we use  
language and what constitutes language. And this rapid and largely uncharted evolution of language is surely  
set to continue unabated - like it or loathe it we all, especially as language teachers, have to come to terms  
with it. Should we include Netspeak and Netiquette in our classroom practice? Can we avoid not including it?  
Success is measured by the extent to which the task is successfully completed and the language is viewed as  
the tool to achieve the end. It’s only a mean to achieve an end. So English teachers, be ready to change as  
the language that you teach has changed.  
Baruah T.C; The English Teacher’s Handbook. New Delhi: Sterling Publishers Pvt. Ltd. 1984 Print.  
Chauhan S.S; Innovations in Teaching Learning Process New Delhi: Vikas Publishing House Pvt. Ltd.  
1983 Print  
Language is a process of free creation; its laws and principles  
are fixed, but the manner in which the principles of generation  
are used is free and infinitely varied. Even the interpretation and  
use of words involves a process of free creation.  
Noam Chomsky