Modern language labs play a vital role in 21st century language learning, and bear little resemblance to the archaic labs of the post World War II era. In fact, for students who are part of the video game / internet / cell phone generation, modern language labs play a major role in grabbing student attention and keeping students motivated to learn.
In general, for any subject matter, a lab differs from a regular classroom by providing students and teachers with the tools they need to facilitate hands-on practice with the subject materials. This differentiation applies to physics labs, to chemistry labs, and to language labs.
What does hands-on practice mean for language learning? ln a language lab, students do not play a passive role. Students listen to (and/or watch) multimedia materials in which native speakers of the target language are talking in an authentic context.
Students record themselves and listen to themselves speaking the target language.
Students converse with their fellow students in pairs or in groups using the target language.
Language labs facilitate a broad range of activities that involve students in reading, writing, listening, and speaking the target language.
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