The most exhausting and irritating aspect of looking into the world of computer software is that it seems impossible to keep up with changes.
Finding out about one of the packages and quietly resolving to acquire it myself, I was told not to bother, as the updated version, which would run on different hardware, would be released very soon. It seemed scarcely any time since the original was produced. Likewise the sheer volume of CD-Roms available for modern languages is quite astonishing: an 18-page list takes the figure to well over 100.
For the language teacher with enthusiasm for the subject, motivation to have a go with computers, but little or no knowledge of IT, information can obviously be sought direct from the publishers and computer companies; full details of which are available at the three national Centres for Information on Language Teaching and Research in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. In addition to cataloguing advertising material, CILT offers a range of publications on all aspects of the use of IT. Regular conferences for language teachers are also organised and CILT will send details on request.
Another key contact for specific information on the use of IT in language teaching is the National Council For Educational Technology. An extensive range of Information Files covers many key aspects of the issue: including a practical paper on Twenty Ideas That Work, classroom planning for the use of Fun With Texts, an introduction to desktop publishing and reading lists, and lists of support materials on the subject as a whole.
This type of information is invaluable but unfortunately, like the subject, it dates rapidly. I found the most practical and up-to-date information and advice came from Advisory Teachers in Educational Computing Centres and Comenius centres throughout the country. Full details of these are available from the CILT offices or NCET. They showed great understanding of the needs of a novice.
* CILT 20 Bedfordbury London WC2N 4LB, tel: 0171 379 5101, fax 0171 379 5082, e-mail: email@example.com * SCILT Pathfoot Building, University of Stirling, Stirling FK9 4LA, tel: 01786 467631, fax 01786 467632, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org * NICiLT, 8 College Green, Belfast BT7 1LN, tel: 01232 326476, fax: 01232 326571, e-mail: NICILT@QUB.AC.UK * National Council for Educational Technology, Science Park, Coventry CV4 7EZ, tel: 01203 416994.