Integrating technology within a communicative approach to language teaching

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A Communicative Approach to Language Teaching

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A [1][[2]]communicative approach to language teaching uses realistic life situations based on students’ life and work experiences as a means to foster language learning. Communicative activities are interactive and clearly relate to students' experiences, thus motivating learners to communicate in meaningful ways about subjects of interest. There are many second language teaching methods[[3]], here we will concentrate on the communicative approach.

There is no one tool that addresses the diversity and uniqueness [[4]]within classrooms, but technology has proven to be an effective tool with which to teach and learn languages. [1] The general use of technology in classrooms when learning languages has been reportedly beneficial to students. Students reported being more motivated, improving their self-concept, experiencing more student-centered learning, as well as being a more active and engaged student.[2] In order to complement the communicative approach to language teaching, technological tools can be used to bring more realistic language experiences to the blended learning[[5]] environment.[3] Since the teacher acts as a facilitator [6] within this type of blended teaching, it is his/her role to find a variety of activities that act as a catalyst for authentic communication.

The Communicative Approach Sees Eye to Eye With the Constructivist and Constructivism Philosophies

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The communicative approach is essentially based on the Constructivism Theory and a Constructivist Approach. [[7]][[8]]

Essentially, constructivism is a theory that supports the idea learners make meaning of their learning based on interaction between their experiences and their reflexes. Constructionism is an educational theory developed by Seymour Papert (1980)[4] [9], inspired by constructivist and experiential learning advanced by Jean Piaget, [10]and is a theory that describes how learners construct knowledge out of their experiences. As such, constructivism promotes active learning [11], learning by doing, and a student-centered approach[12].




Many social constructivist scholars, Duffy and Jonassen 1992[5]; Lebow 1996[6]; Can 2006[7] believe that:

  • Learners make meaning of their learning by discovering facts, principles and concepts themselves
  • Learners relate best to knowledge that is socially and culturally constructed
  • Individuals make meaning of their learning through interactions with each other and with the environment they live in
  • Meaningful learning occurs when individuals are engaged in social activities, this is why the use of interactive, social technological tools work well when learning a language
  • Technology provides a learning environment that fosters many constructivist conditions, such as authentic, complex activities that encourage knowledge building, reflection and analysis from different perspectives.

A constructivist approach also motivates learners to build on their learning, by moving just beyond their actual developmental level. Engaging and challenging the learner, Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development[13][[14]] explains how students can benefit from moving between their actual development level to their next level of potential development.

Constraints

There are some constraints linked to constructivism, some theorists believe certain theories are misleading. In the neo-Piagetian theories of cognitive development [15]it is believed that learning resources need to match age and learning interests/style in order for successful processing of learning to take place. In the case of adult learning, if the learning environment is not suited to learning style or technological skills for example, the concept will be difficult to learn.

Authentic Learning Environment

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When learning languages, Authentic Learning Environments provide a multitude of realistic e-learning activities. [16]







What qualifies material or activities as authentic? Activities and/or material that:

  • Have relevance to the student and are not simply curriculum based
  • Provide tasks through scaffolding [17], so knowledge-building can occur
  • Provide various tasks and subtasks that require the development of problem-solving skills and reflection to arrive at a diversity of possible answers
  • Provide students with the opportunity to collaborate with their peers
  • Encourage learners to reflect on their social and individual learning experiences for making meaning of their learning
  • Support authentic learning, multimedia environments [18] can provide learning through a context related to their interests
  • Can be accomplished through web discussion forums, [19], where learners can share their learning experience with their peers through synchronous or asynchronous web-based performance support systems


Constraints linked to using authentic materials [8]

  • Realistic models to manage conversation effectively are not always available
  • It takes time and patience to explore the many different ways and levels to develop communicative competence
  • Although, authentic materials provide rich input, it caters to different stages of development and students may get discouraged if not properly guided
  • Students need to consider their learning styles and different interests when chosing materials, otherwise materials might not prove as enriching
  • It might be difficult for non-native speakers to express their thoughts precisely in the target language
  • The vocabulary used from various authentic texts might use regionalized vocabulary with presumed cultural knowledge, whereby learners might lose motivation

Cultural Context of Multimedia

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Language teachers know that teaching a language involves exposing students to culture. It is not enough to encourage students to use multimedia technology, as students need to be guided with interpreting the meanings that are unique to various social and cultural communities. Teachers don't need to be expert sociologists, historians or ethnographers to help guide students, but they do need to understand the relationship between text and cultural context when teaching languages with the communicative approach.[9]


Multimedia technology offers a multitude of cultural texts and visual information, and it is necessary for both students and teachers to carefully mediate the information, as there is often a gap between context and text, which means the information may be perceived differently or misunderstood by teachers and/or learners. According to Kramsch and Andersen (1999)"Multimedia both reenacts the original, lived context in which language was used and transforms it into readable "discourse" or text. It is the gap between these two processes that constitutes the pedagogic challenge par excellence." (p. 40)

Technology Enhanced Learning Environments (TELE) as a Tool for Teaching Languages

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Technology Enhanced Learning Environments [[20]] provide authentic learning materials that support a communicative learning approach to language teaching. These learning environments need to:

  • Be relevant and realistic. [10]; [11]
  • Be built on a social constructivist approach that is an integral part of learning. [12]; [13]
  • Support many perspectives presented in varied ways. [14]; [15]
  • Encourage students to own their learning through self-study. [16]; [17]
  • Provide the necessary elements for in-depth learning. [18]
  • Promote the motivation to build on knowledge. [19]; [20]


Many technological tools are also available through Web 2.0 [21][22]

Here are a variety of technological tools that can be used in a blended or F2F language class:

  • wikis[[23]]
  • Skype [[24]]
  • Podcasts [25][26]
  • Vodcasts [27]
  • Powerpoint [[28]]
  • Social networking[[29]]
  • 3D [[30]]Virtual learning environments
  • [[31]]Educational Blogging
  • Learning objects [[[32]]
  • Flickr [[33]]
  • Educational Social Bookmarking[[34]]
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By using these tools with the guidance of a teacher, students are able to use their previous knowledge, synthesize information, and acquire new knowledge and skills with authentic materials.

The following can be used to access and make use of technological tools:



Here is a short video showing how a white board can be used in class to teach a second language:

{{#ev:youtube|R_AWn1NkwsQ}}

Challenges

A learning environment with TELE and multimedia fosters a student-centred approach to education, providing students with themes that are authentic and have a real-life applicability. However, using technological tools does present certain challenges.

  • Not all students have ready access to technological equipement and tools once out of class
  • Some students have little or no computer skills, making it frustrating for them to complete activities using technological tools
  • Sometimes students have insufficient linguistic ability to correspond appropriately, for example, within blogs [21]
  • These activities are not always well integrated into the curriculum [22]
Videos

Integrating Technology Within a Communicative Approach to Language Teaching (Stop Motion)

Identity and Blogs in an ELL Classroom: Rebecca Shinduke

Related wiki links

Web 2.0, Wikipedia. Retrieved June 20, 2011 from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_2.0

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_network. Retrieved June 28, 2011

http://etec.ctlt.ubc.ca/510wiki/Technology_Enhanced_Learning_Environments. Retrieved June 24, 2011

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laptop. Retrieved July 2, 2011

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MP3. Retrieved July 2, 2011

[42]. Retrieved July 3, 2011

External Links

http://www.monografias.com/trabajos18/the-communicative-approach/the-communicative-approach.shtml. Retrieved June 23, 2011

http://iteslj.org/Articles/Caprio-StudentCentered.html. Retrieved June 25, 2011

http://www.monografias.com/trabajos18/the-communicative-approach/the-communicative-approach.shtml. Retrieved June 29, 2011

http://www.commoncraft.com/podcasting. Retrieved June 29, 2011

http://seanfitz.wikispaces.com/educational+uses+of+podcasting?token=2492dcc6bab1b02032d5c6abae7e6cff. Retrieved June 30 2011

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personal_computer. Retrieved July 2, 2011

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IPod. Retrieved July 2, 2011

http://etec.ctlt.ubc.ca/510wiki/Integrating_technology_within_a_communicative_approach_to_language_teaching#Technology_Enhanced_Learning_Environments_.28TELE.29_as_a_tool_for_teaching_languages. Retrieved July 3, 2011

[43]Retrieved July 3, 2011

[44] Retrieved July 3, 2011

[45] Retrieved July 3, 2011

[46] Retrieved July 3

References

  1. Kramsch, C., Andersen, R. W. (1999)Teaching text and context through multimedia.Language Learning & Technology 2(2), 31-42. Retrieved from http://llt.msu.edu/vol2num2/article1/
  2. Stepp-Greany, J., (2002). Student perceptions on lanugage learning in a technological environment" Implicatrions for the new millennium. Language Learning & Technology, (6)(1), 165-180.Retrieved from http://llt.msu.edu/vol6num1/steppgreany/ ISSN 1094-3501 165 Citation in text: Brownlee-Conyers, 1996; Dwyer, 1996; McGrath, 1998; Weiss, 1994;
  3. Meskill, C,(2005)Triadic scaffolds: Tools for teaching English language learners with computers. Language Learning and Technology, 9(1), 46-59. Retrieved from http://llt.msu.edu/vol9num1/meskill/
  4. Papert, S., (1980)Mindstorms: children, computers, and powerful ideas,Basic Books, Inc. New York, NY,ISBN:0-465-04627-4
  5. Duffy, T.M., & Jonassen, D.H. (1991) Constructivism: New implications for instructional technology? Educational Technology, 31(5), 7-11.
  6. Lebow, D. (1993) Constructivist values for instructional design: five principles toward a new mindset, ETR & D 41(3), 4–16.
  7. CAN, T., (2006) Teaching Foreign Languages via Videoconference (a Practice Paper) 2nd International Open and Distance Learning Symposium, Lifelong Open and Flexible Learning in the Globilized World Proceedings, pp: 447-452.
  8. Guariento, W. & J. Morley (2001). Text and task authenticity in the EFL classroom. ELT Journal 55(4), 347–353.
  9. Kramsch, C., Andersen, R. W. (1999)Teaching text and context through multimedia.Language Learning & Technology 2(2), 31-42. Retrieved from http://llt.msu.edu/vol2num2/article1/
  10. Duffy, T.M., & Jonassen, D.H. (1991) Constructivism: New implications for instructional technology? Educational Technology, 31(5), 7-11.
  11. Honebein, J. (1996) Seven Goals for the Design of Constructivist Learning Retrieved from http://cter.ed.uiuc.edu/JimL_Courses/edpsy490i/su01/readings/honebein.htm
  12. Piaget, J. 1973 To Understand is to Invent, Grossman, New York, USA, (Çevrimiçi) Retrieved from http://curriculum.calstatela.edu/faculty/psparks/theorists/501const.htm
  13. VYGOTSKY, L.: 1978 “Mind in Society: The Development of Higher Psychological Processes”, MA: Harvard University Press, edited by Michael Cole.
  14. Duffy, T.M., & Jonassen, D.H. (1991) Constructivism: New implications for instructional technology? Educational Technology, 31(5), 7-11.
  15. Honebein, J. (1996) Seven Goals for the Design of Constructivist Learning Retrieved from http://cter.ed.uiuc.edu/JimL_Courses/edpsy490i/su01/readings/honebein.htm
  16. Duffy, T.M., & Jonassen, D.H. (1991) Constructivism: New implications for instructional technology? Educational Technology, 31(5), 7-11.
  17. Honebein, J. (1996) Seven Goals for the Design of Constructivist Learning Retrieved from http://cter.ed.uiuc.edu/JimL_Courses/edpsy490i/su01/readings/honebein.htm
  18. Jonnasen D. H., (2003) Learning to solve problems with technology : a constructivist perspective, Upper Saddle River, N.J. : Merrill.
  19. Duffy, T.M., & Jonassen, D.H. (1991) Constructivism: New implications for instructional technology? Educational Technology, 31(5), 7-11.
  20. Honebein, J. (1996) Seven Goals for the Design of Constructivist Learning Retrieved from http://cter.ed.uiuc.edu/JimL_Courses/edpsy490i/su01/readings/honebein.htm
  21. Weasonforth, D., Biesenbach-Lucas, S., and Meloni, C. (2002). Realizing constructivist objectives through collaborative technologies: Threaded Discussions. Language Learning & Technology 6, (3), 58-86. ISSN 1094-3501 58 Citation in text: Collins & Berge 2000; Lang, 2000.
  22. Weasonforth, D., Biesenbach-Lucas, S., and Meloni, C. (2002). Realizing constructivist objectives through collaborative technologies: Threaded Discussions. Language Learning & Technology 6, (3), 58-86. ISSN 1094-3501 58 Second citation in text: Bannon, 1995; Chong, 1998; Collins & Berge, 1996; Scarce, 1997.

Further Reading

Arnold, E. (1991). Authenticity revisited: How real is real? English for Specific Purposes10.3, 237–244.

Pellettieri, J. (2000). Negotiation in cyberspace: The role of chatting in the development of grammatical competence. In M. Warschauer & Kern, R. (Eds.), Network-based language teaching: Concepts and practice (pp. 59-86). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

Reeves T., Herrington, J. & Oliver, R., 2002. 562-566. Authentic activities and online learning. Herdsa 2002 web document. Retrieved from, http://learnatics.sydneyinstitute.wikispaces.net/file/view/Reeves.pdf


Rüschoff, B., & Ritter. M. (2001). Technology-enhanced language learning: Construction of knowledge and template-based learning in the foreign language classroom. Computer Assisted Language Learning,14(3-4), 219-232.