В.Б. Кухарська, Ірина Плавуцька, Софія Андріївна Федак

В.Б. Кухарська,доцент, кандидат психологічних наук,

Ірина Плавуцькадоцент, кандидат філологічних наук,

Софія Андріївна Федакдоцент, кандидат філологічних наук

Тернопільський національний технічний університет імені Івана Пулюя

 

INTEGRATING MULTIMEDIA TECHNOLOGY IN A UNIVERSITY ENGLISH AS A FOREIGN LANGUFGE PROGRAM

Due to the current status of English as a global language of science, technology, and international relations, teaching of English is considered to be the major educational priority [4; 5, 37]. However, English as a Foreign Language (EFL) is often taught under unfavorable conditions, and, as a result, high school graduates are not always competent users of English.

One important alternative is to take advantage of the continuing advances in multimedia technology and to make an effort to integrate this technology with in-class instruction. It is well documented that multimedia technology can help with some difficulties associated with the EFL situation, such as large class sizes and mixed-ability classrooms. And where multimedia technology has been used for EFL instruction, better results have been achieved with training students to be autonomous learners [2; 58]. This explains the growing number of schools with facilities for students to access computers and audiovisual equipment.

In this article we will describe a Technologically Enhanced Language Learning and explain how it can be used to complement and reinforce traditional in-class instruction.

For several reasons, EFL instruction often does not accomplish its objective and leaves students without an adequate level of proficiency in English. Of course, a major issue is the EFL environment itself, because there is an overall lack of English speakers for students to interact with. Below are additional factors that contribute to the lack of success with EFL in high schools.

1.         Insufficient time for instruction. Many programs allow only two academic hours weekly for the teaching of English.

2.         Overcrowded classrooms making it difficult for the teacher to keep control and provide individual attention.

3.         Mixed-ability classes. Some students in the classroom are more advanced in English than others. As a result, teachers often have to provide the appropriate level of instruction in classes with such disparity in English proficiency.

Numerous researchers have reported on the theoretical constructs that support the use of multimedia technology for EFL instruction[3]. This research shows that using multimedia technology in the classroom:

• allows students to work individually at the computer, at their own pace, and according to their own needs;

• helps teachers to deal more effectively with a large group of students;

• makes the introduction and presentation of content more dynamic and attractive for students;

• increases student motivation due to the interactive nature of the activities;

• trains students to self-monitor and self- assess their progress, which promotes autonomous learning;

• promotes a task-based approach to learning;

• allows students to experience real-life and communicatively meaningful language situations and contexts;

• introduces a variety of print, audio, and visual materials that match different student learning styles and preferences.

With the rapid development of the Internet, computer use in the classroom also offers additional possibilities for designing communicative tasks such as those built around computer-mediated communication and telecollaboration, including the ability to interact in real time with oral and written communication, to conduct information searches to find attractive and meaningful material, and to engage in distance learning and e-learning.

The use of videos can:

• be more appealing and entertaining for the students than audio exclusive materials;

• expose students to authentic language in natural situations;

• provide a situational and visual context to language interactions; and

• expose students to authentic nonverbal (body language, cultural traditions) and verbal (register, colloquial speech) elments of language.

To be realistic, teachers should not think of technology as a panacea that solves all the problems associated with language teaching. The use of technology in EFL instruction should be based upon numerous pedagogical considerations, which must be well thought out in advance. For example, theimpersonal nature of the multimedia equipment and its potential to limit interaction and present tasks that are so repetitive that there is a danger of boredom and passive learning; concerns about the actual autonomy that multimedia allows students, since it is still the teacher who chooses the options students must work on.

Students at the ELC work on computers loaded with the multimedia software program Focus on Grammar; which leads them through a series of activities selected by the teachers according to each students’ particular level and need. While using the computer program, students typically focus on formal aspects of grammar, although they work on listening and reading activities as well. Completion of a specified number of activities is mandatory for all students. Students are also provided with a list of supplementary activities that are optional for those who finish the obligatory activities or who feel they need extra practice.

Today, the development of listening comprehension is linked more to the use of video materials than to the use of materials such as audiocassettes or CDs. At the video stations students work on vocabulary building and listening comprehension exercises from recorded news reports, movies, song clips, and documentaries.

It is advisable to develop worksheets with specific activities related to the content of video segments that were selected from programs of topical interest to the students. The exercises associated with the video materials are conducted before, during, and after the video presentation, which are known as the stages of previewing, viewing, and post-viewing. These stages are designed to maximize student understanding of the subject matter, which will in turn increase motivation and involvement.

• Previewing activities activate students’ prior knowledge and raise their expectations relating to the content of the video. At this stage the teacher can prepare vocabulary lists, reading texts, and comprehension questions about the video so students will start reflecting about what they know of the topic.

• Viewing activities give students practice in both content-based and form-focused tasks that require them to use top-down and bottom-up processing. Activities include answering multiple-choice questions, filling in the blanks, drawing inferences, and listening for the gist.

• Post-viewing activities give students the opportunity to evaluate and comment on the video and the associated activities. Students answer various open-ended questions about the video in terms of their personal enjoyment and the relevance of the content. At this stage they are required to reflect and write about the content of the video, which encourages them to think critically about the subject. At first they can write their comments in their native language, but they are progressively required to express themselves in the target language.

The complete evaluation of students’ knowledge can be composed of two parts, the classroom activities and the ELC activities. Classroom evaluation involves a midterm test, workbook assignments, class participation, extensive reading evaluation, and self-assessments of students’ contributions to the class. The evaluation of the ELC activities involves three areas:

1.         A computer assessment that automatically evaluates the students’ performance on grammar and listening comprehension lessons. Students answer tests on the screen and receive their score as soon as they finish. They then have the chance to check which of their answers were right and which were wrong.

2.         At the end of each video session, students receive the answer keys for the worksheets they completed and have the opportunity to correct their work and monitor their progress.

To get an idea of how well multimedia technologies actually improve the students’ competence in English, it is useful to gather different types of quantitative and qualitative data from test scores, surveys, and interviews, among other methods.

The results of a survey show that implementation of multimedia technologies provide students with substantial opportunities to listen to authentic language, which is a key element for the acquisition of English. A large majority of the students also felt positive about the opportunities to increase their vocabulary and practice grammar. In addition, most students indicated that computer- and video-based activities had a positive effect on their process of learning English. Finally, the technological approach had effect on students’ personal progress.

It must de concluded that technological approach motivating, productive, and advanced way to learn English.

Multimedia materials and tasks are appealing for students, which improves their attitudes toward learning and makes the teachers’ job more productive and rewarding. These student perceptions suggest that the ELC help English teachers to tackle some of the unfavorable conditions of teaching EFL. For example, dividing classes in half lessens the effects of overcrowding, and having students work individually with multimedia allows each one to work on tasks at the correct level [1, 55].

Through this article we intended to give a picture of how technological approach can counteract some common problems of teaching EFL. The suggestion is: to implement programs that seek to raise in the student an autonomous attitude toward learning a language and the integration of multimedia technology as a reinforcement of in-classroom activities.

It is important to recognize that in many EFL situations not all schools have the resources and space to install and maintain a multi- media center like the ELC. Nevertheless, it is a challenge for language teachers to seek ways to improve classes, and there are different ways for teachers to begin to install at least the beginnings of multimedia laboratories.

 

References:

 

1.     Амірагова Н. С. Впровадження інтерактивних технологій у процесі навчання іноземних мов / Н. С. Амірагова // Використання інтерактивних методів при викладанні мови та літератури у середніх та вищих навчальних закладах : матеріали міжвуз. наук.-практ. конф. – Євпаторія : РВНЗ Кримський гуманітарний університет, 2009. – С. 54–57.

2.     Глушок Л. М. Застосування інтерактивних методів при викладанні англійської мови у Хмельницькій гуманітарно-педагогічній академії // Педагогічний дискурс, 8/2010. – С. 56–59.

3.     Зубенко О. В., Медведєва С. О. Інтерактивні технології навчання при вивченні іноземних мов в технічному ВНЗ. Вінницький національний технічний університет м. Вінниця, Україна // Гуманізм та освіта. Міжнародна науково-практична конференція.Електронне наукове видання матеріалів конференції

4.     Halliday M.A.K., Mclntosh A., Strevens P. The users and use of language. Readings in the sociology of language / Edited by J.Fishman. – The Hague: Mouton, 1970. – P. 136-169.

5.     Hymes D.H. On communicative competence. – Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1971. – 213 p.

 

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