Renovating Language Labs to Facilitate Classroom Interaction in Language Education


Language labs are widely used in language education. The labs enable teachers to listen to individual students through headsets connected to computers. They also enable students to practice listening and speaking using their individual workstation. In recent years, peer interaction has been demonstrated as an effective pedagogy in language education. Yet, since traditional labs were designed primarily for individual work rather than group discussion, existing lab configuration and bulky hardware may pose limitation on peer interaction.

As educational technologies evolve, the availability of mobile eLearning technologies has enabled new possibilities for language lab design. In order to create a more interactive learning space optimized for language education, 9 language labs at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) have been renovated in 2019. Desktop computers were replaced with new laptops to minimize visual barrier. Some fixed tables were replaced with movable ones, so that users can easily form groups. The space was designed to encourage both peer-to-peer and peer-to-teacher interaction, while maintaining the flexibility to be converted to other usage.

Our survey conducted among CUHK teachers who have used these language labs (n=44) showed that they were generally satisfied with the newly renovated labs. Some teachers favored the flexibility of the new lab and found it excellent in facilitating group work. However, some respondents pointed out pending technical issues that needed to be resolved. The survey feedback provided insight into the advantages of the new design as well as potential areas for improvement in similar technology-facilitated interactive learning spaces.

Author Information
Hiu Hin Tse, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Paul Lam, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Kevin Wong, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Aubrey Chan, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Jose Lai, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Stephen Leung, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

Paper Information
Conference: SEACE2020
Stream: Foreign Languages Education & Applied Linguistics (including ESL/TESL/TEFL)

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Posted by James Alexander Gordon