The goals of using technology in the foreign language classroom are the same as in any foreign language classroom: to provide students with opportunities to engage the target language through reading, writing, speaking, and listening comprehension. In fact, using technology, and computers in particular, can only help to give students opportunities to encounter the culture of the target language more authentically.
It the past, it was believed (during the audio-lingual days) that structured drills and repetition were all that were needed to make students more proficient in a language, and this is what “language labs” were mainly used for. Now, research in applied linguistics has shown that meaningful exposure to a language is the most important factor in language learning. The Internet, CD-Roms, recording software, and audio files all provides these opportunities for students to be exposed to the target language in a meaningful way.
The authentic language that students encounter when conducting web-quests or reading on-line versions of newspapers, magazines, and catalogs (store Web sites) is more engaging for students and also provides opportunities for cultural awareness and empathy.
Regardless of the type of technology that a teacher uses, it is important to keep in mind that the meaningful exposure to the target language is the most important factor. Many technology-based activities do not look like traditional classroom exercises, but this not a bad thing. When students are engaged in an activity that forces them to make meaning of the language that they encounter, they are gaining in proficiency.