ITC Infrastructure for foreign language teaching

ICT application in teaching has become a popular trend. This article introduces and discusses some important components of the ICT infrastructure for foreign language teaching in Vietnam.
1. Introduction
The dynamic development of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has resulted in tremendous benefits in many areas, including education and training. Especially, the introduction of the Internet and telecommunication applications has removed many restrictions in terms of time and location in teaching and learning, and helped learners access to mankind intellectual knowledge. Application of ICT in language teaching is one of the most interested topics among teachers and learners.
Online teaching and learning include 2 main factors: (1) people (teachers, learners, and operators); and (2) ICT infrastructure (computers, telecommunication network, multimedia tools, software, materials).
This article discusses the current ICT infrastructure for foreign language teaching/learning in Vietnam.

2. Content
2.1. Definition
ICT infrastructure is the facility system for producing, transferring, collecting, processing, storing, and exchanging of digital information, including the telecommunication network, the Internet, the computer network and database  (Quốc hội. Nước CHXHCN Việt Nam, 2006).

2.2 Main componentsSome components of the ICT infrastructure for language teaching will be discussed in the following parts.

a.The system of servers
Playing an important role, servers store course content and user database as well as process user queries in the network. Therefore, servers need to be stable, fast, secure, and can provide services 24/24. To meet the requirements, servers are often located in a safe place with special preventions for explosion and fire, natural disasters, frequently backed up and, installed with copyright softwares, and operated by experienced experts.

b.Transfer lines
The network transfer line can be either the local network (LAN) or the Internet. It is an important component but it is dependent on the telecommunication infrastructure of a country or a region. While most universities and colleges have developed their high speed LAN system, the network infrastructure in rural and remote areas is still in poor condition. It is not favourable for application of ICT in teaching online.
The infrastructure in big cities is better with many high speed choices like Leased line, FTTH or ADSL. Based on the transfer speed of these technologies, proper choices should be decided for the purposes of the online courses. For example, a high speed transfer line could be a good choice for courses with high quality video and audio files and vice versa.

c. Multimedia lab
Multimedia labs provide special equipment for content production and foreign language courses. The production and transfer of content are conducted with such equipment as camera, recorder, software for processing and compressing data, images, as well as transferring devices.
Multimedia language labs are those for language teaching/learning. These labs are often equipped with networked computers, audio recorders and players, tape recorders/players, operating software, interactive smart board, projector, TV set, etc.

Besides, when learning online learners need to equip themselves with PCs, tablets, smartphones with network connections, tape and disc player/recorders, radio and TV recording devices. These devices support the exploitation of course content through audio, video, text file. At present, the low prices of these devices make it easier for users to afford.

d. Operating software
The operating software is the management tool for online foreign language courses. To develop a high quality training software, a strong cooperation between IT and training experts is required. Nowadays, language learning softwares are very popular to meet the demand of learners, especially in skills like listening, writing, and reading. As for speaking, due to the special requirement of interaction, learners should spend more time in multimedia labs.

2.3 Favourable conditions
Recent statistics show that Vietnam is a country with fast speed of IT infrastructure development. Since 2010, Vietnam has been among the top 20 internet user (ITU, 2012). The 2013 statistics showed that Vietnam ranked in the 9th place for IT products competent users (ITU, 2013).
Vietnam is in the first place for the number of Internet users and in the second place for Internet user growth in the region – source: comScore
According to comScore, f-rom March 2012 to March 2013 Vietnam stood in the 1st place for the number of Internet users in South East Asia (16.1 million people), followed by Indonesia with 13.9 million users. Vietnam was also in the 2nd place for Internet user growth, only second to the Philippines (Singh, 2013). Vietnam is also a strong developer of 3G mobile phone subscribers. These developments provide favourable conditions for online learning and training (An, 2012).

In conclusion, the ICT infrastructure for foreign language learning/teaching includes all equipment and tools for teaching and learning. A good ICT network requires big investment and it is the responsibilities of not only education institutions but also of the whole society.
In recent years, big investments and special attentions have been paid to the application of ICT in teaching and learning by the State. Following the trend of autonomous and active learning, the traditional class has been losing its advantages. Classes with the ICT supports have been confirming their position in foreign language teaching. With the strong development of ICT infrastructure, it can be said that ICT infrastructure can meet the demand of learning/teaching foreign language in the context of Vietnam.

An, C. (2012). Hạ tầng CNTT đã đủ thuận lợi cho đào tạo trực tuyến. Retrieved 12/42014, 2014, f-rom

ITU. (2012). TOP 20 COUNTRIES WITH THE HIGHEST NUMBER OF INTERNET USERS: International Telecommunication Uni-on.

ITU. (2013). Measuring the world’s Measuring digital natives: International Telecommunication Uni-on.
Quốc hội. Nước CHXHCN Việt Nam. (2006). Luật Công nghệ Thông tin. GOVERNMENT PORTAL Retrieved f-rom

Singh, A. (2013). 2013 Southeast Asia Digital Future in Focus: comScore.
Người đăng:Pham Thanh Thiem, Nguyen Huy Khanh