ICT in the classroom to enhance teaching

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Trying to engage students in the classroom each day can be an increasing challenge but there are many ways to make the activities in the classroom worthwhile for learners and to make what they learn, matter. Learners love a challenge and giving their work meaning will motivate them to want more of it because it allows them to be the central point in the learning process.

ICT can both improve and enhance both learning and teaching in an ESOL class and technology is not only a tool for use in the classroom, but is also a resource for accessing information that further enables learning to take place. New ways to integrate technology into the learning process are being created daily.

In this commentary I will provide an evaluative overview on the use and effectiveness of using 'YouTube' the video-sharing website as a teaching material to assist my learners with two of the key skills, listening and speaking.

The Learners

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The Level 1 ESOL students are from Slovakia, India, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan and Poland. They have all completed City & Guilds Level 1 Speaking and Listening Assessments and the Literacy On-line test at the end of the last semester. All the students have access to computers in the college and use Moodle in lessons on a regular basis. As a group they have expressed that they want more practice in listening and speaking English in'authentic' situations to prepare for the 'real' world and so the last few session have been focused on 'Work and Jobs' leading to 'Interviews'.

Students have shared that when they are listening to another person speaking a foreign language, (for them, English) they try to translate it into their native language. Comprehension is more difficult when reduced forms, and the level used, and colloquial language is used. Learners need more exposure to them and an awareness of a speakers corrections and rephrasing use, ( "..erm… I mean… er..") to expand comprehensibility

Scaffolding

In the previous sessions I used strategies to assist learning when they were first introduced to the subject of jobs. This is to give them motivation, a context and a starting point from which they can understand new information introduced in the coming lessons. Using 'Scaffolding' techniques can be important for all learners and not just ESOL learners or those with learning difficulties. The aim is that learners will, at the end, demonstrate comprehension independently.

Some strategies used include:

Activating prior knowledge on jobs, job adverts, CV's etc. (this is a 'top-down' processing referring to utilising learners' schemata.

breaking tasks into easier, more manageable steps to facilitate learner achievement

showing students an example of the eventual outcome

facilitating student engagement and participation

teaching key vocabulary terms, relating to the genre of Jobs, before reading

asking questions while reading to encourage deeper investigation of concepts

modelling an activity for the students before they are asked to complete the same or similar activity

asking students to contribute their own experiences that relate to the subject at hand

According to McKenzie (1999), the defining features of successful scaffolding include clear direction, purpose, and expectation. Results include on-task activity; better student direction; reduced uncertainty, surprise, and disappointment; increased efficiency; and palpable momentum. Scaffolding instruction is also intrinsic in Lev Vygotsky's (1978) idea of the Zone of Proximal Development.

The main point is to support learners to have communicative competence, the ability for language learners to use socially, contextually and culturally appropriate language in communicative contexts.

Content

Content that is familiar is easier to comprehend than content with unfamiliar vocabulary or for which the listener has insufficient background knowledge off. Mock interviews is a noticing exercise: paying attention to grammar as it occurs in different contexts and structures in listening material, language practice activities and spoken interactions. This is good differentiation when a one learner point out a point to another.

Videos and other visual support can increase learner's comprehension as long as the learner is able to interpret it correctly. They can observe facial expressions, gestures; body language and pictures tell their own story.

Using the interactive 'Smartboard' has made the whiteboard come 'alive' and one of the latest, convenient and versatile ICT tool in use in the classroom is 'YouTube' where you can share videos of every kind. Although you have to be aware that many education institutes have blocked YouTube due to the inappropriateness of some of the content.

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The students took part in mock interviews where learners videoed pairs, then watched later to discuss what went well and what did not and gave each other feedback. This is a 'bottom-up' process where learners start with basic language and build to some complex structures. Intonation, stress and rhythm play a part in this process as well and it was important that I gave all the students opportunities to practice statements and questions using declarative forms and with rising intonation with questions.

I tried to obtain dvds of real interview but had no success so turned to YouTube where I researched many clips and used ones that I felt were suitable for this group of learners. The clips from YouTube were shown at the end and finishing with a funny clip to lighten the end of the session. Some of the clips feature ESOL students in mock interviews and some were native speakers in 'real-life' situations that give the learners a realistic 'foreign language' experience.

Conclusion

There are many videos on YouTube that could potentially be used in an ESOL educational class. There are video clips from televisions program, experts discussing a specific topic, or just some home movie clips up loaded by individuals, of a place you are teaching about or may be thinking about visiting. It comprises of user-uploaded content and can mean that a lot of it is unreliable, unbiased or inappropriate for cultural and classroom use. When looking for specific themes a tutor could spend hours searching on the site but can still be a laudable learning and teaching aid.

The company is based in San Bruno, California, and uses Adobe Flash Video and HTML5 [4] technology to display a wide variety of user-generated video content, including movie clips, TV clips, and music videos, as well as amateur content such as video blogging and short original videos. Most of the content on YouTube has been uploaded by individuals, although media corporations including CBS, BBC, Vevo, Hulu and other organizations offer some of their material via the site, as part of the YouTube partnership program.[5]

Unregistered users may watch videos, and registered users may upload an unlimited number of videos

Component

The aims of this study reported in this article are to investigate factors affecting English as a foreign language (EFL) teachers' use of computers in their classrooms and to find out EFL teachers' perceptions of computer-assisted language learning (CALL) and ways to improve CALL practice in school settings. Participants in the study were twelve Korean in-service teachers of EFL working at secondary schools in Korea. A questionnaire and follow-up in-depth interviews were employed to collect data.

The results of the study indicate that the teachers have positive and favourable attitudes toward the use of the computers. They consider computer technology as a useful teaching tool that can enhance ways of teaching by offering students a variety of language inputs and expanding students' learning experiences in real and authentic contexts. It is also reported that external factors such as lack of time, insufficient computer facilities, rigid school curricula and textbooks and lack of administrative support negatively influence the implementation of CALL in the classroom. Internal factors such as teachers' limited computer skills, knowledge about computers and beliefs and perceptions of CALL also seem to significantly affect teachers' decisions on the use of CALL. Based on the findings of the study, implications are made for the effective implementation of CALL in EFL contexts.

Article Text

In recent years, the rapid evolution of information and communication technology (ICT) has made great changes in societies and education. The Internet, particularly, has become a useful tool for communication, a venue for experiencing different cultures and a mediator in diverse political, social and economical situations. Along with the impact of the Internet worldwide, the extensive use of computers at schools has had a critical influence on educational environments. The Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development (MOE & HRD) in Korea, for example, has implemented several Educational Reform Plans since 1997 to meet the challenges in an era of high-technology. At the governmental level, the Education Ministry implemented 'The Comprehensive Plan for Education in the Information Age' aimed at building the infrastructure for education between 1997 and 2000. It included ICT equipped classrooms, computer labs and digital libraries with computers connected to the Internet to provide schools with technology-enhanced learning environments. On the basis of the plans, the Korean government has provided every school with multimedia computers, software programs and high-speed broadband Internet connections to cope with an information technology society and to integrate ICT into everyday educational practices.

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In terms of teaching English as a foreign language (EFL), the paradigm of English education in Korea has moved to the communicative language teaching (CLT) approach along with the Seventh Educational Reform in 1997 (Choi, 2006; Kwon, 2000). The underlying theoretical concept of CLT is communicative competence, which refers to the ability for language learners to use socially, contextually and culturally appropriate language in communicative contexts (Savignon, 1997). However, most Korean learners of EFL have difficulties to develop their communicative competence beyond the classroom mainly because they do not have a supportive learning environment where they can hear and speak English for communicative purposes (Jeong, 2006). Therefore, some special efforts are needed to help Korean students expand their language learning experiences and practice the target language outside the classroom. This need can be found in the Korean government's special emphasis on English language proficiency and computer literacy in the spirit of globalization. English language proficiency and computer literacy are currently essential elements in the Korean society in looking for a job, obtaining promotion and entering into a school of higher education (Kwon, 2000). In these circumstances, the Internet, combined with a variety of computer-assisted language learning (CALL) programs, is on its way to restructuring the concept of the language classroom and the roles of the learner and the teacher in foreign language learning and teaching in Korea. The appropriate integration of Internet-connected computers into the language curriculum is a key issue to consider when examining the effective use of computer technologies for educational purposes in Korea.

In many Japanese universities, language instructors are facing challenges associated with low academic achievement among students, mainly caused by reduced competition among students at universities. Teaching at one such university, the author has been seeking to cope with classes where students vary greatly in English ability, with those who have limited English skills and knowledge and/or have not developed basic learning habits or study skills.

This article discusses how technology can help the teacher to accommodate different learning needs and get/keep students motivated. It is based on the recent classroom practice in one of the courses the author taught, where students were supposed to learn research and presentation methods by using English in conjunction with computers and the Internet. In addition to using Moodle, an open-source learning management system, other web tools including weblogs and online materials were integrated into learning activities.

These activities helped students feel more comfortable using computers and the Internet, and encouraged them to look for better ways to express themselves. Also, the activities were utilized flexibly to accommodate students' diverse abilities and interests, helping keep them actively engaged with the course.

There are three strategies ESL/EFL teachers can follow to ensure that technology fits their needs. First, investigate new media to see if it is suitable for classroom use. Then identify how new media changes TESOL. Finally, set English Language Teaching objectives before selecting any tools of technology. Itesl (2008)

engaging and motivating all learners

supporting the development of problem-solving and thinking skills in an open-ended environment

helping learners to make meaningful links between subjects and enabling teachers to use ICT across the curriculum

encouraging children to hypothesise and discuss what might happen, aiding the development of talking and listening skills and a collaborative approach to learning

suiting a range of learning styles: thereby supporting personalised learning

giving children a unique means of communicating and developing their ideas.

McKenzie, Jamie, (1999). Scaffolding for Success. From Now On: The Educational Journal, Vol. 9, No. 4. from http://www.fno.org/dec99/scaffold.html.

Michael Morgan,The Internet TESL Journal, Vol. XIV, No. 7, July 2008. http://iteslj.org/[accessed 20 April 2011]

[Accessed 20 April 2011]

Valdez G, http://www.ncrel.org/sdrs/areas/issues/methods/technlgy/te600.htm[accessed 20 April 2011]

Dodge, Bernie, (December 2, 1998). Schools, Skills and Scaffolding on the Web.

from http://edweb.sdsu.edu/people/bdodge/scaffolding.html. [Accessed 20 April 2011]

Appendix i-

References

Barton, D. (2007) Literacy an Introduction to the Ecology of Written Language. Blackwell Publishing: Oxford.

Crystal, D. (1991) A dictionary of linguistics and phonetic., Basil Blackwell Oxford.

Harmer, J. (2007) The Practice of English Language Teaching 4ed. Pearson Education Ltd: Essex.

McCarthy, M. (1991)Discourse Analysis for Language Teachers. Cambridge University Press.

Petty, G. (2009) Teaching Today -A Practical Guide 6ed Nelson Thornes: Cheltenham

Richards, J (1990) The Language Teaching Matrix 7e, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

The Internet TESL Journal (2005) Creating ESL/EFL Lessons Based on News and Current Events http://iteslj.org/Techniques/Banville-News/[15 April 2011]