Language teachers are working in a world which has changed in the past decades in fundamentally disruptive ways, through profound changes in the role that networked computers play in everyday life and through the social and demographic shifts brought on by an increasingly globalized society, bringing together more than ever before people from different cultures and languages in real and virtual environments. Not all parts of the world are affected in the same way or at the same rate of change, but these global trends are likely to bring significant changes to communities everywhere (Canagarajah, 2002). One of the byproducts of this new environment is the growth in opportunity for language learning, in particular through informal environments such as social networks and networked gaming. Increasingly, our students’ lives involve heavy use of technology, especially through mobile devices, and the building and maintenance of meaningful relationships not necessarily based on face-to-face contact and sometimes extending well beyond their own home base. Second language teachers need to be able to work effectively in this evolving environment, preparing students for work and life in a world likely to be quite different from that in which they grew up, and which is likely to continue to change in significant ways. The challenges for training language teachers to deal with this dynamic are considerable. We need teachers not only to be proficient in the target language and have sufficient training in being effective classroom teachers, but they also will need to be able to cope with increased use of technology, and the need for all educated citizens to be global citizens (Kumaravadivelu, 2013). They will need to be able to follow new developments in technology and be able to understand their potential use in second language instruction. Crucially, teachers will need to be able to assess how new developments might fit in (or not) to their local instructional context. In this column we will examine the interconnected roles that L2 (second language) teachers may need to play in order to be effective in a changing social, educational, and technological environment. Fundamentally, this involves 1) gaining an inside appreciation of how computers and networks operate, 2) being able to evaluate new technologies and how they can be integrated into their own teaching and learning environments, and 3) learning how to equip students to deal with an increasingly interconnected and multilingual world.
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