KYEI-BLANKSON, Lydia; TRAORE, Moussa. Using Literature and Multiple Technologies in ESL Instruction. Journal of Language Teaching and Research, vol. 2, n° 3, 2011, p. 561-568.
Available in http://www.academypublication.com/issues/past/jltr/vol02/03/09.pdf. Access in March, 7th.
Resumo: Many instructors are using literary texts along with language structure books in English as a Secondary Language (ESL) classrooms. Since literature is often written to portray a particular cultural or authentic experience, the material presented may not be familiar to ESL students. Also, the students may find such texts structurally complex and impossible to understand. To overcome these challenges, instructors need to implement strategies that will make the literary materials relevant and useful to student learning. The current study describes how multiple technologies were successfully employed in the presentation of Chinua Achebe’s 1958 novel, Things Fall Apart. In addition, ESL students’ reactions to the integration of technology in instruction were explored. Findings from this study have pedagogical implications for instructors who plan to incorporate literature and technology into their ESL curricula.
Palavras-chave: technology, literature, ESL instruction.
“(…) Trends in technology have indeed altered the educational landscape and have caused changes in the way courses are developed and delivered (Hicks, Reid & George, 2001).” (p. 561);
“(…) Empirical research conducted to examine the influence of this approach showed that the use of technology helped motivate ESL learners to develop strategies for successful learning (Mayer, 1999, Moreno, Boire, & Vagge, 1999, Jelfs & Whitelock, 2000, Mansoor, 2002).” (p. 561);
“(…) Arguments forwarded against its use include the fact that the language used in the literature is structurally complex, conceptually difficult to understand, and is unique to a particular culture or authentic situation, therefore does not support the goals of teaching grammar in a language classroom and helping students meet their academic and occupational needs (Kay, 1982).” (p. 561).
A. Purpose of the Study
“The purpose of this study was to describe how technology was used to successfully teach literature in an ESL class and explore the affect on students’ vocabulary skills and their reactions to the use of literature and technology in their learning.” (p. 562).
B. Research Questions
1. What did the ESL students acquire from the use of literature in their classroom?
2. How did the students perceive the effect of technology integration in the teaching of literature on their learning?
3. In what specific ways did the variety of technology used help student understand the concepts presented in the authentic text?
C. Significance of the Study
“(…). First, (…) to know how technology facilitates the teaching and learning of literature. Second, (…) realize the benefits of integrating literature instruction with technology and its implications for ESL students’ learning. Finally, (…) realize through this study the importance of technology integration in the teaching and learning of literature especially to ESL students.” (p. 562).
II. REVIEW OF LITERATURE
A. Approaches and Methods in ESL
“According to Li (2006), language acquisition among young children is a gradual process that involves building vocabulary from messages received through communication and using the language in a highly supportive, non-stressful environment.” (p. 562);
“(…), the language presented by the teacher, the environment in which the language is presented, and the strategies used in presentation are very important considerations for the instructor if the aim is to facilitate student comprehension and language skills.” (p. 562);
“The Grammar-Translation method involves having students translate sentences from their native language into the target language. (…). The Direct approach on the other approaches does not allowed students the opportunity to apply their native tongue. Students are immediately immersed into studying the new language they plan to acquire.” (p. 562);
“(…) [Reading approach] where the emphasis is placed on being able to read and build vocabulary in the secondary language. This approach requires more control over the frequency and usage of the vocabulary. Similarly, the Audio-Lingual method involves focusing attention on pronunciation and oral drillings.” (p. 562);
“The Cognitive approach, for instance, involves emphasizes on rule acquisition and the instructor views reading and writing as important as students’ ability in listening and speaking. That students are able to understand and comprehend the language are the main objectives put forth in the Counseling Learning, Comprehension-based and Communicative approaches. In these methods listening comprehension, language use, and fluency of use are viewed as important. (…) the Communicative Approach emphasizes where language use and fluency of use is emphasized.” (p. 562);
“(…) it is essential that the instructor provides a supportive environment, adequate communicative practice, and applicable learning activities to assist students. Another element of importance is the language learner’s acquisition of vocabulary. (…). In addition, the provision of meaningful input, communicative teaching methods, and authentic materials is essential to ensure the development of learners’ vocabulary and communicative competence.” (p. 562-563).
B. Using Literary Texts in Language Instruction
“(…) reading, listening, speaking, and writing are four important activities emphasized in language learning. (…). However, using only textbooks in ESL instruction has been found to be insufficient.” (p. 563);
“(…) The use of literature provides the opportunity for ESL students to interact with the language as they get to learn new words or vocabulary.” (p. 563);
“In addition to helping students build vocabulary, other suggested benefits of using literature books are that they are motivating and authentic, provide a narrative and plot to stimulate interest, build up interest for other cultures, and help build fluency (Horst, 2005). Furthermore, literature books are often less expensive and may come with other supplementary material (…).” (p. 563);
“Although, the evidence suggests that these materials can ensure language proficiency levels at all levels of education, one drawback that has pointed out is that the texts do not present curricular items in a particular sequence as textbooks do (Gareis, Allard, & Saindon, 2009). (…). One way to resolve this issue might be for such instructors to be very selective in the choice of the text used and considerate about when such texts need to be included in the curriculum. Also, since literary materials might present some cognitive difficulties for students, instructors might want to consider the inclusion of other presentations or supplementary materials to support learning.” (p. 563).
C. Using Multiple Technologies in Language Acquisition
“(…) Through the use of word processors, presentation software, multimedia, hypermedia, drill and practice programs, the Internet, and other procedures and tool, students from all walks of life are able to engage in instruction and the learning environment designed to meet their specific needs.” (p. 563);
“(…) According to Usun and Kömür (2009), technology such as movies and music can help instructors in language classes by providing them a good opportunity to develop and create different, enjoyable tasks for their classes. Wang (2004) also added that the use of technology helps meet language learners communication needs as well as help them develop their language skills in the classroom. Using various kinds of technological devices gives language students the sense of freedom, motivation, and encouragement they need for learning (Gene-Ilter, 2009).” (p. 563);
“(…) Audio materials encourage listening skills while the visual presentation not only provide a focus of attention but also makes it easier for language learners to fill in any information they do not understand. (…) some students may view the visual content passively and may garner very little meaning from the presentation. Presenting the visual information first and then and then following up with the audio is one strategy that has been suggested to prevent this problem.” (p. 563);
“(…) using both audio and visual presentations simultaneously lead to a higher effect when compared to a single presentation at one time (Mayer, 2001). (…). Audio-visual materials present students with a lot of information, especially in the form of cues such as facial expression, hand movement, and gestures which hold their attention and may encourage even the novice learner to focus on the message at hand. In addition, the representations enhance learners’ listening comprehension and helps with understanding of difficult materials (Ginther, 2001).” (p. 563-564);
“(…), most of the research indicate that the use of technology in language classes helps improve the for skill areas recommended for success, (…): instructors need to focus on the importance of using authentic and interactive activities, materials should be selected with the needs and interests of the students in mind, the lessons should meet pedagogical requirements, and the activities should be well supported by the technology.” (p. 564).
A. Research Design and Participant Selection
“This study used a qualitative approach to describe how technology was used to successfully teach literature in an ESL class and explore students’ reactions to the use of technology in the ESL classroom.” (p. 564);
“The study participants comprised of 10 Thai students who were studying English as a second language, (…), computer technology, the Internet, and an overhead projector were used in the presentation of literary materials to the students.” (p. 564).
B. Data Collection and Analysis
“Data for the study were collected by way of one-on-one interviews. (….). Specifically, students’ perception of the use of technology in the teaching of literature in the ESL classroom was assessed.” (p. 564).
“The first phase of data collection helped the instructor of the class determine the teaching strategies that would help reach the needs of the students.” (p. 565);
“The second set of interviews revealed changes in student understanding of the novel in general, the terminology in the novel, specifically, as well as their use of the vocabulary. Also students indicated that they found the use of technology in the teaching of literature in this course effective.” (p. 565).
Influences of Multiple Technologies
“The students perceived the technological devices as education tools that helped enhance their understanding and engagement (…). The general reactions from the students show that the technology enabled easier and accurate evaluation of the characters and events in the literature.” (p. 565);
“The students realized that weaving technology within the Literature curriculum equips them with high listening and comprehension skills that in turn facilitate their discussion of the literary text.” (p. 565);
“Using technology in this class produced a familiarity between students and the setting of the novel.” (p. 565);
“The participants also indicated that the use of technology in this class enabled them to have more interaction and feel more proximity with the literary material; (…). It appeared the technology made it easier for students to draw comparisons between the plot in the book, the setting and conflicts in the text, and their personal environment and society.” (p. 565);
“The data showed that the use of technology in this class empowered the students to such an extent that remarkable and striking inferences were made in their study and discussion of the text, and the learners felt that they improved theirs skills in Literary criticism and beyond that, their overall level in English language improved.” (p. 565);
“(…) the tendency to substitute the movie for the literary text, instead of combining the use of the printed text with the movie.” (p. 566);
“(…) power of technology in terms of comparing societal features to the highest level.” (p. 566);
“Another important feature that technology brought into this study is the specific details that contribute to add an interesting twist to the plot. Watching the movie enabled the students to grasp certain feelings and emotions that are difficult to capture in a simple reading of the text, especially for ESL students.” (p. 566).
“(…) ‘Literature does indeed have a place in ESL curriculum. For many students, literature can provide a key to motivating them to read in English. For all students, literature is an ideal vehicle for illustrating language use and for introducing cultural assumptions’.” (p. 566);
“(…), using literature in combination with the multiple technologies in the ESL classroom made it easier for the ESL students to understand the material which was initially construed as difficult to grasp. The study also showed that using audio-visual materials in the form of movies on a book prepares students to a more complete and complex reaction to the material and it also generates critical thinking as NCLE (2002) stipulates. The use of listening materials also prepares students and equips them with a better ability and predisposition to understanding and analyzing literary materials as some of the students pointed out in this research. (…). This project showed that carefully selecting an audio visual material and introducing students to it while placing specific emphasis on vocabulary and prior knowledge factors as Koskinen et al. (1985) reiterate, facilitates the teaching of Literature in the ESL classroom.” (p. 566).
“Both ESL and Literature faculty need expose students to the use of audiovisual technology. ESL student expose to literature is also recommended. (…), a strategy that encourages students to combine Literature, Writing (Composition), Language and Pedagogy in their study of texts. Using technology and Literature in the ESL classroom helps train ‘strong readers’ (…): readers who competently and confidently engage literary materials while bringing their own personal experience into that of the characters in the text. (…), how can ESL programs efficiently and successfully match technology applications to the instructional needs and goals of ESL program? (…). The rift between those who have access to technology and those who do not is giant and must be considered.” (p. 567).