Technology: Lesson 1
Well hi everybody, my name is Orlando Kelm. I’m faculty here in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese and I also spend a good hunk of my time at the McCombs School of Business. I’m what they call an early adapter, a guy who just loves to try new technologies and see how they apply to language teaching.
When I was asked to do the module, I thought how in the world can we show technology in language teaching because the technologies become so outdated so quickly. By the time you actually watch this lesson, the technology won’t be cool or new anymore. So I took a new angle. And that is, this lesson focuses on things that people have said are good for language teaching and can we somehow twist that for technology. So for example, we’re going to talk about time on task, spending more time on something helps us learn a foreign language, maybe technology can help us do that. Language researchers say that we need context, is there a way that technology can provide me with more context so that students can identify where to use certain phrases and things like that. Language researchers have said that we learn language in chunks, little pieces, little phrases that go together as opposed to isolated words. Is there a way that technology can help me learn language in chunks. Language researchers also talk about the difference of input or intake — its not so much about how much language I hear, but how much soaks in. Can technology help it soak in a little bit more? And so the workshop idea here is to put all those together, and see if there is a way that technology can help in time on task, context, chunks, input and intake. That’s kind of what we’re all about. Take a peek at the lesson, we’ll see if it works.
1 Time on Task
Presents how technology can aid in the learning of foreign languages by providing learners with increased time on task.
Explores how the effective use of technology has the potential of creating a context for language learning situations.
3 Chunks and Scripts
Demonstrates how technology can play a role in providing learners with the “chunks” and “scripts” that people use in actual speech.
4 Input vs. Intake
Discusses how technology can provide learners with increased exposure to a foreign language, but more importantly, it can also serve to increase a learner’s conscious awareness of what is heard.
Need for More Time on Task
Learners just beginning a foreign language often underestimate how long it takes to gain communicative proficiency in a foreign language. There is no getting around the fact that language learning requires lots of time on task. Fortunately today’s technologies, when used effectively, can greatly increase a learner’s contact time with the foreign language.
The average university student who studies a foreign language for four semesters will be in class for 240 hours. Years ago the U.S. Department of State Foreign Service Institute (FSI) subdivided languages into different categories, based on how quickly native English speakers learned a foreign language (Omaggio-Hadley, 2001). The basic premise: the more related a language is to a foreign language, the easier it will be to learn. For example, German is similar to Dutch; Spanish is similar to Portuguese. As related to ACTFL-like proficiency ratings, after 500 hours of study (Rifkin, 2003), the average native English-speaking student of a Category 1 language (e.g., Dutch) can expect to achieve an Advanced-Low rating, while students of a Category 4 language (e.g., Chinese) may only achieve an Intermediate-Low rating. Simply stated, no matter what category a foreign language, learners at every level need to spend time on task.
This lesson focuses on how technology aids foreign language learning by providing students with more options to increase the time they spend in studying the language.
On the importance of time on task.
Increasing Time on Task
A traditional classroom inherently contains limitations and challenges that affect language learning. For example, the teacher/student ratio limits the amount of time that a teacher can spend with each student. And even if the teacher is a native speaker, students are exposed to only one dialect. It is difficult to expose students in a classroom to authentic language, especially oral language. Interestingly enough, the use of technology not only provides students with more time on task, but it also provides a way to minimize some of these classroom limitations.
For example, the online video materials entitled Portuguese Communication Exercises expose students to over 300 brief video clips where native speakers from various regions of Brazil and Portugal discuss over 80 different topics, all of which are transcribed in Portuguese and translated into English. The topics are subdivided into four general levels of difficulty.
• Beginning tasks require single-word answers or simple memorized chunks.
• Intermediate tasks are at the sentence level.
• Advanced tasks require paragraph-level story telling.
• Finally, Superior tasks require the use of hypothetical language.
The individualized study of these materials provides opportunities for increased time on task.
Demonstration of the design of Portuguese Communication Exercises site.
Increasing Quality of Time on Task
The use of online video not only increases time of task, it has the potential of increasing the effectiveness of the study time. Here is a list of ways to use Portuguese Communication Exercises to increase the quality of time on task:
1. Ask students to prepare their own oral presentations, using the samples from native speakers as a guide. Since there are always at least four different recordings for each task, students can mix and match the comments that they would like to incorporate into their own oral presentation.
2. Encourage students to analyze the speech of the native speakers in the videos. For example, students can study the use of prepositions, word order, verb tenses, etc. Have them reference the transcriptions of the oral speech, an added benefit.
3. Since the speakers in the video clips come from various regions from all over Brazil (and a few from Portugal), students can study regional dialects and general Portuguese pronunciation. Ask them to look for characteristics that identify the speakers from one region to another.
Online videos can also be used to reinforce in-class teaching activities. Here are a few ideas using Portuguese Communication Exercises:
1. When presenting lessons or lectures on almost any language topic, video clips provide a resource for samples and examples. When teaching the preterite versus the imperfect for example, instructors can view the video clips where people talk of the pets they used to have.
2. Analyze transcripts of clips line by line to help students to see the subtleties that would have gone unnoticed. For example, instructors might say something like, “Did you see how this speaker used the verb ficar in this sentence to mean ‘to be located’.”
3. Use the video clips as a springboard for other projects. For example, instructors who teach a course in phonetics might ask students to make phonetic transcriptions of the video clips.
Think of ways that you could incorporate online video clips into your classroom, for your unique group of students.
What are other ways to use technology to increase time on task? Are you a multi-tasker? Do you listen to audio recordings while walking to school? Technology lets you listen to language almost anywhere and at any time.Do you blog, chat, and email while eating your lunch? These are all ways to use technology to reinforce what was covered in class and to focus on items that were not covered in class. For example, technology provides opportunities for increased pronunciation practice, which seldom is part of actual class-time practice. Technology also opens up chances for students to use their own style of learning, like using electronic flash cards.
Teachers share their ideas on how technology can help increase time on task.
The beginning teachers in this video mention that sometimes they simple need more time for the topics covered in class to soak in. The topics are “too hard to figure out in class,” and technology provides a way to go back and listen to things over and over again. Notice also that Thomas had made the flash card application for his own personal use because he wanted more time to practice vocabulary. Others talked about the advantages of multitasking (e.g., listening to recordings while walking and exercising).
Based on these observations and considering their ideas about autonomy and individual learning styles, what ideas come to mind related to how technology can help you increase the time that you spend studying a foreign language?
[Module Instructor Orlando R. Kelm. ] 2010. [Technology]. In Foreign Language Teaching Methods. Carl Blyth, Editor. Texas Language Technology Center, University of Texas at Austin. http://coerll.utexas.edu
The material is provided free of charge for those that wish to study it.
How ever a no obligation exam is available at the end of this module.