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THE USE OF ICTs IN THE A/B PRIMARY SCHOOL EFL CLASSES

A Useful Teacher’s Guide Dr Fotini-Vassiliki KULOHERI Athens 2013 1

2

The Use of ICTs in the A/B Primary School EFL Classes:

A Useful Teacher’s Guide

3

4

The Use of ICTs in the A/B Primary School EFL Classes:

A Useful Teacher’s Guide Dr Fotini-Vassiliki Kuloheri

EFL teacher, Teacher trainer, Materials designer

Athens 2013

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ISBN 978-960-93-5478-3 © Fotini-Vassiliki Kuloheri 2013 Φωτεινή-Βασιλική Κουλοχέρη 2013 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, copied or transmitted in any form without written permission from the author. Απαγορεύεται η αναπαραγωγή, αντιγραφή, αποστολή, αναδημοσίευση του παρόντος έργου με οποιονδήποτε τρόπο χωρίς προηγούμενη γραπτή άδεια της εκδότριας.

First published 2013 by Fotini-Vassiliki Kuloheri, Athens, Greece. Πρώτη έκδοση 2013 από Φωτεινή-Βασιλική Κουλοχέρη, Αθήνα, Ελλάδα.

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Dedicated to my very young school learners. Who start learning English with a wide smile. Whose eyes grow wide in anticipation of the excitement EFL learning brings to them. So that their smile does not fade out, and the sun does not set in their minds.

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Contents

Pages

1.

Introduction

1

2.

ICTs and TEYLs: Advantages of use

3

3.

Useful ICTs for A/B school EFL graders

7

3.1.

3.2.

4.

Vocabulary and spelling activities 3.1.1. Search databases

8

3.1.2. Vocabulary SpellingCity.com

9

3.1.3 Free Online English Pronunciation Dictionaries

10

Speaking 3.2.1. Online voice recorders

11

3.2.2. Digital Video Production

13

3.3.

Listening: Digital tales/stories

16

3.4.

Initial writing

19

3.5.

Initial reading

20

3.6.

iPads

20

3.7.

Overview: ICTs and learning goals

22

Important advice 4.1.

Before ICTs use

24

4.2.

During ICTs use

25 9

4.3. References

After ICTs use

26 27

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Acknowledgements

I am deeply indebted to my school advisor Dr Thalia Hatzigiannoglou (school years 2011-12, 2012-13), who played a crucial role in my first training in the use of ICTs in the primary school EFL classes. Thalia believed in my abilities, respected me deeply, and encouraged me to pursue my self-development and share it with the wider professional community. I am also grateful to my dear EFL colleague Eleni Sotiropoulou (Med), who devoted precious time to reviewing my book in a constructive way.

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12

1.

Introduction

H

istorical,

scientific,

technological

and

socioeconomical

developments have led to the need for fast advancements in the content and aims of educational systems worldwide, as

school education should adapt to life changes in order to prepare learners for real life demands. Most important of all, the Chaos Theory has led scientists to the holistic, systemic approach of the complexity of world systems and subsystems and to the non-linear, interactive and interdependent relations between them (Matsaggouras, 2002). Additionally, since the start of the 20th century Psychology and Educational Psychology have introduced a series of changes in the perception of the nature of human beings and of learning (ibid; William and Burden, 1997). In particular, they have stressed the principle of wholeness that characterizes human perception (Morphological Psychology) and the human soul (Child Psychology), the active participation of human beings in learning processes through various strategies that allow the understanding of the world (Constructivism), and the importance of thoughts, emotions and feelings, learning needs and self-evaluation (Humanism). More recently, emphasis has been given to learning as the result of mediation of and interaction with others, who have the same or different level of knowledge and skills (Social Constructivism - William and Burden, 1997). Last, but not least, fastglobalized economies, technological advancements and the information age across the globe call for digitally-literate citizens who can learn and take responsibilities for their continuous personal learning development and employability (The European E-learning Summit Task Force, 2001), and 1

for autonomous personalities capable of constantly renewing their knowledge their knowledge, life attitudes and beliefs, and consequently of responding successfully to the continuous adjustments of job markets and social changes (Stamelos, 2010). The above have left their imprint in current practices in Greek school EFL education to very young learners (aged 5.5 to 7) worldwide. So, they have forwarded the cross-curricular holistic approach to teaching and learning in active and participatory learner-centred work modes, which take into account learning aims, developmental profiles, learning styles, intelligent types and personal reactions to classroom stimuli, promote child socialization and intercultural awareness, and exploit the advantages of ICT tools. The following configuration depicts those key parameters of TEYLs which contribute to the core target of EFL education, i.e. holistic child development. One can identify below the key role that ICTs may play towards the achievement of this aim.

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2.

ICTs and TEYLs: Advantages of use

T

he term ICT (Information and Communications Technology) embraces a wide range of services, systems, applications, equipment and software, which allow for the transmission,

retrieval, editing, storage and in general the manipulation of information (see

‘Information

and

Communication

Technology’

-

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Information_and_Communication_Technolog y - accessed 14.09.13). It also comprises multimedia applications which combine digital data in a variety of styles (e.g. text, graphics, image, animation, sound and video). The term stresses the role of the integration firstly of real-time communication services (e.g. chatting, video conferencing, and data sharing like interactive whiteboards) with non-real-time communication services

(e.g.

voice

mail,

e-mail,

SMS),

and

secondly

of

telecommunications, computers, software and audio-visual and storage systems. Generally, the use of ICTs in the EFL classroom can improve the quality of state primary school education by bringing EFL teachers and learners closer to technological developments, facilitating teaching and learning, and renewing teaching methods and techniques. More precisely, classroom experience has shown that ICTs can be powerful educational tools for teaching English to young learners (TEYLs) for the following basic reasons. Many of these reasons are connected to the principles and objectives

set

out

in

TEYLs

courses

(for

Greece,

see

PEAP1

http://rcel.enl.uoa.gr/peap/articles/programma-0 - accessed 14.09.13). 3

The variety of different ways in which ICTs can be used offer young school children the opportunity to build up knowledge, understand language input and use it as language output. They can also create personal child time in class for these purposes. As a consequence, individualized learning is supported, i.e. one of the most basic educational principles at these ages (ibid). ICTs can connect individual pupils with their EFL classmates or the EFL learners of other classes/schools (e.g. through e-mails or chats). This

is

especially

important

in

the

first

primary

classroom

environments, where children may often find themselves among new cultures and new personalities. So, a second basic EFL learning principle in TEYLs can be satisfied, i.e. the development of an intercultural communication ethos (ibid). Contexts are provided for the transfer of the children’s L1 social literacy skills to EFL, the third basic TEYLs principle (ibid). As tools that enhance spoken and/or written interaction, ICTs can urge children to use their EFL knowledge for holistic purposes and so get ready for real-life communication in English. Learning through communication is achieved by offering rich language environments, in which young learners have the continuous chance to participate in language activities and use the target language as an interaction tool with their classmates (Liaw, 1997). From the large variety of contexts provided by ICTs, English teachers can find the most suitable ones for their learners in terms of language and content. A precise and comprehensible language context can exert positive influence on young learners (Krashen, 1999), while subject 4

matter relevant to learners and close to their daily experiences can increase their communicative ability (Arnold, 1999). ICTs can forward learner-centered, participatory, collaborative and exploratory learning, and the development of skills in the processing of complex information in environments of authentic and multimodal texts

(Educator’s

Guide/Οδηγός

Εκπαιδευτικού).

By

eliminating

antagonism in particular, technological applications can consequently facilitate learning processes (Solomonidou, 1999). ICTs can train children in basic computer and digital literacy skills (Papaefthymiou-Lytra, 2004). Also, familiarization with the use of computer technology decreases the stress caused by the contact with e-tools children are initially not adequately acquainted with. Child autonomy can be promoted, i.e. the child’s developing ability to be responsible of their own learning (Dam, 2003). This is achieved through training in strategies which make learning easier, faster, and more effective, and which show children the way to comprehend the learning process, evaluate it and adopt ways to determine it by themselves successfully throughout their lives (ibid). The children’s positive attitude towards EFL learning can be increased as their interest in and motivation for learning are strengthened. As a result, children can develop thinking skills at a higher level and better vocabulary retrieval (Stepp-Greany, 2002). Excitement is added to learning and the teacher’s work is made less laborious (Stolkenkamp and Mapuva, 2010). Teaching becomes creative

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and flexible, overcomes the limitations of school EFL curricula and adopts advanced learning aims (Vernadakis et al, 2006).

So, turn on your equipment. Follow us in our digital journey!

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3.

Useful ICTs for A/B school EFL graders

T

his section is developed in accordance with the emphasis given on lexis and the development of communicative skills during TEYL courses (e.g. in Greece, Alpha English and Beta English

curricula

-

see

PEAP2 http://rcel.enl.uoa.gr/peap/articles/analytika-

programmata-ylis - accessed 30.09.13). Consequently, it covers vocabulary development and consolidation, the development of speaking and listening (for grades A and B), and the development of initial writing and reading (additional focus of grade B). The ICT tools suggested certainly do not comprise an exhaustive list of the web tools available to EFL teachers for these purposes. They are rather indicative of the possibilities ICTs open up to TEYLs for motivating, effective and constructive lessons. Additionally, they are suggested as successful means of promoting higher forms of thinking in education like remembering, understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating and creating (Bloom’s taxonomy of Learning Domains). At the end of this chapter, you can find an overview of the suggested tools in relation to the learning goals they can satisfy. This Table can guide you in the selection of the most suitable ICT tool for your lesson objectives.

Ts

I C

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3.1. Vocabulary and spelling activities 3.1.1.

Search databases

Search databases can be used in class to present and/or revise the spoken and written form of word items, and forward their retention in memory. They are an effective way of reinforcing the development of early e-learning skills, as children can learn to apply their knowledge of the English vocabulary, access web information by searching through keywords, find examples of word meanings and evaluate what they find (e.g. pictures). With A and B graders, it is most suitable to use the Image search databases, as these promote the understanding of word meanings through illustrations. It can be the English teacher and/or the learner(s), who will use this tool. Before using it, make sure you have first entered a web browser like Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer, Opera and Safari, i.e. a software application for retrieving information resources on the World

Wide

Web

(see

‘Web

browser’,

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_browser - accessed 20.10.13). Then, select ‘Images’/’Εικόνες’ on your browser, and use the bar at the top for typing in your enquiries. Image databases can be used in a variety of ways, so the following ideas should not be regarded as an exhaustive list. Rather, they should be approached as stimuli for more creative ideas that you yourself can come up with. Indicatively, teachers can type in a word for presentation or revision purposes. After pressing ’Enter’, the children will see a variety of images related to this word. They can be asked to select the one they like 8

most and then to listen to their teacher pronouncing the word, relate it mentally to the picture and repeat it. Alternatively, if a projector is used, teachers can ask children to follow on the screen the letters they type in and e.g. say which sound each letter represents and/or which word it is. Then, children may be asked to draw the relevant picture on the board and then to compare it with one of the respective database images. Children can be encouraged to use the Image databases by themselves too. For instance, they can type in words on their own (words recently learnt or any they want), or words dictated by their English teacher. The database can urge them to self-correction through the message ‘do you mean (sun)?’ if a word is spelt wrongly, and through the images that will appear. It will be a good idea too to ask children to comment on images, like expressing thoughts, feelings, and emotions, as they like being personally involved with pictorial elements. A fun activity can be to ask them to type in their names in English. Besides recalling the spelling, they can have fun by seeing what image they come up with. Usually, images are unpredictable, which causes laughter and creates a pleasant hilarious atmosphere in class. Images corresponding to names can also be a good springboard for discussions on e.g. historical topics.

3.1.2.

Vocabulary SpellingCity.com

This is an example of a free online tool to reinforce memory retention and recall through the revision of the English alphabet letters and their written forms, and of word spellings. It can facilitate the understanding 9

of minimal pairs by contrasting pronunciation, spelling and meaning. It is also an effective tool for understanding the mechanics of reading in English by analyzing sentences into words and words into letters and sounds. Last, but not least, it exposes young EFL learners to authentic English pronunciation and helps them evaluate their learning progress. First, the teacher enters the selected word list (from three to ten words). Then, five different kinds of activities are offered on this word list. For example, children take turns to come to the computer, listen to each word and type it in. At the end, they are given a word-by-word result (i.e. correct spellings are ticked and false spellings are crossed out and corrected in red). Alternatively, they can read the words silently, select one, click on it, and listen to its pronunciation and to each letter of its spelling. Or, they can search and circle the words in an alphabet grid, unscramble letters, fill in a missing letter, and play spelling games like ‘Hangmouse’ and ‘Match the flashcards’ (i.e. a memory game in which they click on word flashcards, turn them upside down, listen to and read the word each flashcard represents while trying to find its match). Reading activities may be to read silently four given words and select the one they hear, or read the whole word list and put the words in alphabetical order.

3.1.3.

Free Online English Pronunciation Dictionaries

Dictionaries of the sort (like e.g. ‘Howjsay’ http://www.howjsay.com/) are offered online to help learners grasp and remember the English

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pronunciation. Nevertheless, they can be a very good tool for practising the English spelling too. Usually, these tools are very simple in use. Children can type the word in the bar provided by the Dictionary, submit it, mouse over it and hear it pronounced. Teachers may also wish to make them aware of a more demanding process (suitable for B graders) in which they browse through the alphabet, select the letter their word starts with, scan the list of words that appears and select the word they want. This mental procedure can familiarize EFL learners with the English alphabet, urge them to become aware of sound-letter relations, and give them training in initial English dictionary use, and in the development of the reading subskill of scanning.

3.2. Speaking 3.2.1.

Online voice recorders

Free online voice recorders are services that help us record our own voices and upload our messages on e.g. a blog, or a wiki. In TEYLs, they can urge children to apply acquired knowledge in speaking in order to communicate their own simple messages and to experiment with the spoken language. At a second stage, they can also be given the chance to evaluate themselves or each other’s performance by listening to the recorded messages. Voice recorders can be very straightforward in use, like

Vocaroo

(http://vocaroo.com/)

and

Soundcloud

(http://soundcloud.com/101/for), or a bit more demanding but also more creative like Voki (http://www.voki.com/).

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Vocaroo asks users to just click on a button to record. Soundcloud allows the use of phone to record audio. But Voki gives us the tools to create our personalized avatars too, and add voice to them. In addition to these, Blabberize (http://blabberize.com/) could be used, which makes it possible for young children to add a mouth to a picture their EFL teacher has uploaded and to record their own voices to make the picture talk. Services like the above firstly urge our young EFL learners to revise vocabulary and experiment with the spoken language by actively using words and very simple short phrases for communication purposes. In Voki, children may practise their spelling too by selecting to write their messages and then have them spoken (if they select to give a voice by text-to-speech). Additionally, in order to select features to make their own avatars, they are urged to read and understand the necessary key words (i.e. ‘male/female’, ‘clothing’, ‘mouth’, ‘glasses’, ‘necklace’, ‘eyes’, ‘skin’, ‘hair’, ‘colours’). Classroom experience can confirm that young EFL learners’ motivation is increased because they can play around with the service, record and hear their own voices, and create the figures they like. Such kinds of services allow teachers and children to get engaged in realistic communication characterized by information gap and a reason for interacting (Littlewood, 1981). This is achieved by having their messages posted on e.g. blogs, profiles, and/or websites, and by getting feedback on them. For instance, if the teacher has posted a new message for the children on the class wiki, then they will have a realistic reason to read it and respond (provided they are trained to use the wiki, as explained in the relevant section). 12

3.2.2.

Digital video production

This technology has already found a place in British primary schools across different age phases, but there it is led by expert practitioners and advisors (Potter, 2005). Although Greek EFL teachers may normally not be among such practitioners or advisors that could lead such ICT activity, TEFL training experience reveals that they are often eager to try their hand at new tasks and at experimenting with their classes successfully. Digital video production (DVP) can be a difficult task for A and B graders, but it is a perfect tool for training children in most of the higher forms of thinking in Bloom’s taxonomy. More precisely, by participating in the process of DVP, children apply the English lexis they have learnt in appropriate contexts of use, compare it e.g. to antonyms, relate it to images, and classify it under superordinates, thus consolidating and expanding their vocabulary, practicing speaking, and demonstrating the level of their learning. In addition, DVP can boost up child self-esteem and increase self-confidence. It can also make children aware of the actual technology, of the procedures followed and of its advantages for self-expression (e.g. video editing elements like clip ordering, transition between clips, use of sound effects, of narrative voice and of soundtrack; Potter, 2005). It allows for creativity and collaboration to take place in contexts that give rise to production and to the understanding of the value of this production (Loveless, 2002). It provides opportunities for evaluating the process experienced and the final product. Last, but not least, it is very suitable for the application of the cross-thematic approach to EFL learning as it presupposes the

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merging of a variety of school subjects, like EFL learning, Music and Theatre Education, Arts and Crafts, and Environmental Education. Experimentations with Greek B graders in school EFL classes have shown that learners as young as them can indeed succeed in taking an active part in video authoring, provided that they are guided by their English teacher closely, they are given enough time to get used to the camera and try out different holds of it until their grip becomes more stable, and they are allowed a number of experimental recordings until they understand where the proper camera frame should be, which buttons to press and when to press them. To ensure success in the use of DVR, you need to prepare very well. So: Ensure access to a camera allowing recording digitally on a camera’s hard disk, to a computer and to a free video editing web application. ‘Movie maker’ or Google ‘free video editing software’ could work; however, you would rather find those applications that you can best work with on your browser. Recharge the camera beforehand, and familiarize yourself and your young film makers with the very basic buttons of ‘record’, ‘stop’, and ‘rewind’. Give out different roles to children, guide filmmaking closely through a certain number of necessary steps, limit production to a short sequence between 1 to 3 minutes the most, and set limitations on content and/or actions (e.g. unacceptable actions beyond the planned content should not be tolerated). After getting prepared, you should determine the film making steps; i.e. 14

1

Decide on the topic and content of the film (e.g. the weather today in Athens, Thessaloniki and Crete, presented by three children in the role of the weather broadcasters). Children will be motivated to participate in decision-making if you ask for their opinion and suggestions; nevertheless, remember to enforce behavior rules and consequences and to set a time limit during these negotiations.

2 Decide on the component shots (e.g. first filming pictures of the settings, like a picture of Athens, Crete and Thessaloniki, to introduce the notion of the place, then filming the weather broadcasters talking and then filming pictures relevant to the forecast, like umbrellas and clouds to suggest the rainy weather). 3 Prepare the setting and the filming area. For instance, desks and/or chairs may be added or taken away, a map of Greece may be fetched, and groups of children may draw parts of the setting (e.g. tree leaves to suggest autumn, air-blown hats to indicate windy weather, etc.). 4 Prepare the text for the broadcaster(s) (e.g. “Today it is raining in Athens and it is windy. It is sunny and hot in Thessaloniki. ‌â€?). 5 Help the broadcaster(s) learn it. If the text is written with their help, this will facilitate memory retrieval and effective production. 6 Position the broadcaster(s) and the filmmaker. 7 Have a number of trials before filming until the children feel confident enough. 8 Have enough trial filming. Review it on location on the side panel of the camera with the children, and invite their comments. 9 Make improvements and reshooting, if necessary. 10 Film the final.

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11 Use the free editing application yourself to edit the film and produce the finished product. But make sure you explain the stages to the children as you do it (if there is enough space, or a limited number of learners, you can encourage them to sit around you while doing the job).

3.3. Listening:

Digital tales/stories

As multimedia technology is becoming more and more sophisticated, there is growing interest in its use for language learning purposes, and in the combination of the visual and auditory information in listening material (Verdugo and Belmonte, 2007). The reiterative, visual and interactive nature of material like digital tales/stories forward individualized EFL learning at one’s own pace through one’s active involvement in the decoding and understanding of the information while interacting with the material. Interaction involves applying

and

evaluating

knowledge,

i.e.

selecting

responses

and

confirming/rejecting/modifying them. Materials of this kind also foster “a high level of individual control” (ibid: 88), to help children learn the language progressively and to facilitate reading comprehension in the long run. Regarding

children’s

listening

skills

and

literacy,

digital

tales/stories are proved to be very useful in their development because at the early acquisition stage they offer contextualized, meaningful and memorable new language, present vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation (the three language systems) in meaningful contexts, convey language 16

messages, feelings and memories, and are distinctive ways of manifesting cultural values (ibid). However, the key to the above advantages is their careful selection and suitable use with young learners, especially in light of the overwhelming quantity of digital material offered. So, EFL teachers first have to ensure that the digital tales/stories chosen for A/B class learners meet the following three criteria (Kuloheri 1996): 1

Communicative value, i.e. their potential to expose learners to the visual and aural component of real-life spoken interaction. Visual

components of communication can be clues suggestive of place and time of interaction, participants, paralinguistic features like postures, facial expressions and gestures, and cultural elements like hair type and body size. Aural components of communication can be authentic English language, frequently repeated words, neither too easy nor too difficult language level (but just ahead of EFL child competence), neither too slow nor too quick pace of delivery, careful but not distorted articulation, intonation patterns and tone of voice indicative of attitudes and emotions, and clear unambiguous message quality. 2 Content

value,

i.e.

meaningfulness,

comprehensibility,

interest,

relevancy to children’s background knowledge and world experience (e.g. relation to school subjects and own daily experiences) and absence of violence. 3 Value of formal media features, i.e. characteristics of the visual and auditory code of the material which are distinct from its content and necessary as techniques to capture the children’s attention. So, from 17

the extended list of such features, EFL multimedia tales/stories for young learners should comprise mainly attention-gaining devices (like laughter, music, child voices, applause, sound effects, and short scenes) because these can extend child attention during viewing and listening, enlarge concentration span and discourage children from missing language and content details necessary for comprehension. After material selection, English teachers are usually faced with the ‘How to use’ question. The answer to this can come from our experience with exploiting stories with young EFL classes. TEYL courses (like PEAP in Greece) may provide teachers with detailed plans on story use, so processes of the sort will not be dealt with in this booklet. However, our attention should be drawn on the need to exploit the visual, interactive and reiterative nature of multimedia, and some of the features mentioned under the selection criteria. So, the following advice can be taken.  Teach key vocabulary associated with oral instructions used in multimedia, e.g. ‘click/don’t click on …’. Check that the whole class has understood it and can recognize what it means.  Help the class revise known vocabulary used in the material, and teach new vocabulary if necessary, before they have a go with it.  When the meanings of new words are clear from the actual material, do not hesitate not to pre-teach them. Rather, draw child attention on these words while using the tale/story, and ask them to exploit visual and language clues to guess their meanings. More generally, In general, draw their attention on features that guide understanding (e.g. picture parts, colours, sizes, shapes, key words like ‘left/right’). 18

 Ask the children to listen to and understand a simple instruction first before they go on with the story by clicking on screen parts (Verdugo and Belmonte, 2007).

3.4. Initial writing Young EFL learners can benefit by accessing web tools for writing messages/notes and for storytelling. Colourful pictorial elements, the autonomous choice of scene features (like settings, heroes, etc.), and especially the opportunity and challenge to create something in writing make such web tools extremely motivating and effective for our A and B EFL classes. As Whitehead has put it, “When children first learn to write, one of the moments of greatest significance for them is the realisation that there is something they can create that will stand in their place when they are not there.” (in Potter, 2005). Kerpoof (http://kerpoof.com/), as an example of an ICT tool for story writing, allows learners to create animated movies, pictures, cards, artwork and stories online. It involves creating with the help of given features and adding simple speech bubbles to it. Free online services like Lino (http://en.linoit.com/) and Padlet (http://padlet.com/) can provide young EFL learners with attractive platforms (in the form of canvas or walls) and ready-made notes to write on. In Lino, children can learn to drag post-it notes on their canvas, whereas in Padlet they only have to double-click on the wall. Then, they can write short messages or notes, like e.g. ‘Today is my birthday.’, ‘Happy Birthday, Kostas!’, ‘Hello!’, ’I love my pets’, ‘How are you?’, ‘I’m fine.’, etc. 19

They can also write short comments under photos you may have stuck on their Lino canvas or they have learnt to select in Padlet, like ‘Big sun, hi!’, ‘That’s great!’/’Great!’, ‘A party’, ‘Sunny weather.’ etc.

3.5. Initial reading For the purpose of helping young EFL learners recall knowledge about vocabulary, and recognize letters, understand letter sequences as meaningful words and word sequences as meaningful sentences, teachers can access free websites that make easy English reading material available. Starfall (http://www.starfall.com/) can be an indicative example of such a site, which helps learners learn to read English by phonics. Its materials start up with alphabet letters related to phonics and words (e.g. ‘a’ - /æ/ - ‘apple’), and gradually take children to minimal pairs (e.g. ‘can’, ‘fan’, pan’, ran’) and to online interactive books. Throughout the materials children are exposed to relevant pictures which make meanings very evident. The interactivity of such sites, their suitability for the learning needs of our A/B EFL graders and the simplicity they retain in content and use make it a very motivating and effective web-based tool. For story selection, the criteria mentioned on pages 19-20 apply.

3.6. iPads Since its launch, the use of this gadget has been gaining ground, to the extent of being established as an educational learning tool in many settings. 20

To the eyes of our A/B graders, iPads appear to be one of the most exciting tools because they are part of the motivating mobile gadgetry of their time and of their family life, and they seem easy to use due to their portability. To the eyes of their English teachers, however, it may currently seem a highly complicated business, perhaps redundant compared to all the class work that needs to be covered, and/or an unrealistic

purchase

under

the

financial

stresses

and

strains.

Nevertheless, nothing is complicated unless it is regarded as such. Contrary to teacher beliefs like the above, iPads are a helpful, interactive and engaging tool for the achievement of educational and language learning aims, while a one-to-one relation between iPads and children in class is not really necessary. iPads can be used with both A and B graders. They comprise a separate section in this booklet because, depending on the app (short for ‘application’), they can encourage learning in more than one aspects. Namely, they can support the development of listening, reading and/or speaking skills, help children revise and consolidate the alphabet and vocabulary (e.g. shapes, colours, numbers, animals, commands), raise awareness in children of the right pronunciation, and enhance the development of their fine motor skills. Learning takes place in fun ways through child interactions with engaging animations, sound effects, singalong-songs, stories, games and activities. Self-confidence is instilled in learners, and their positive attitude to early EFL school learning is increased. The children just need to learn to touch or tap on the screen or on the keyboard, or tilt the device. They also need to get familiar with the 21

most basic keys (the ‘play’, ‘rewind’, ‘forward’, ‘stop’, ‘record’ and ‘pause’ keys will be enough for the two first school grades). If certain children in your class have played around with an iPad, then they can be involved in peer scaffolding by showing to their classmates how the gadget works. They can do ‘listen-and-do’ and ‘read-and-do’ activities, listen to and sing songs, hear sounds (and e.g. recognize the right animal), listen to stories and make story characters bounce around the screen, dance along while listening or singing, record themselves saying something in English (e.g. short dialogues/monologues) or record their own speech on selected characters. In certain apps, they can even create their own short simple imaginative stories. You will be one of the luckiest ones if nearly all the children can bring an iPad from home. In this case, they can work individually. Otherwise, they can share in pairs or groups. The classroom use of iPads makes it necessary that you have downloaded free iPad applications in their gadgets first. There are several of them on the Internet, so just search for ‘free iPad apps for toddlers/children’. It is very interesting that you can also gain access to free apps for children with special learning needs, so in this case iPads can set individual learning environments for differentiated learning.

3.7. Overview: ICTs and learning goals The following Table can provide an easy access to the relation between

ICTs

and

TEYLs

learning

goals

22

ICTs

English language system Vocabulary

Search databases Vocabulary Spellingity.com Free online English pronunciation dictionaries Online voice recorders Digital video production Digital tales/stories Digital Kerpoof writing Lino Padlet Digital story reading iPads 1

S : Speaking

√ √

Pronunciation

Communication skills S1

L

√ √

R

W

Remembering

Understanding

Applying

Analyzing

√ √

√ √

√ √

√ √

√ √

√ √ √ √ √

√ L : Listening

Synthesizing

R : Reading

√ √ √

√ √ √ √

√ √ √ √

Evaluating

√ √

√ √ √ √ √

Bloom’s taxonomy

√ √

√ √

W : Writing

23

4.

Important advice

4.1. Before ICTs use Effective use of ICTs with young EFL learners must primarily mean thorough preparation! Make sure you have practiced using the ICT tool before the children use it. Prepare the computer lab before your lesson.  Are the computers, the projector and all other necessary equipment working?  Is the screen set?  Are there enough chairs for the children?  Have you downloaded the tools on all the desktops? Prepare a short clear list of the DOs and DON’Ts, stick it on the wall and go through it with your pupils before each lesson starts. Ask them to suggest and decide on the consequences and rewards to be set for respectively insistent negative and positive behaviors. Make a principled lesson plan. Think about aim(s), objectives, steps, work modes, materials, and timing. Steps may be differentiated, as kids can work in pairs or small groups, and may be given different tasks to perform. Individual work and pairs usually work best. Re. pairing, consider it carefully. Some pairs perform better when they find themselves away 24

from best friends or worst enemies. If you like group work, try to keep groups small. Sharing tasks and/or materials is still difficult at these ages. Keys on keyboards may have both Greek and English letters. Insist on attracting their attention to the Roman alphabet, so that they get less and less distracted by the Greek letters. Explain the aims of each activity (i.e. what the kids will do and the reason(s) why). Ask elicitation questions to make sure they have understood. Involve as many children as possible at this stage. Then, give out the handout (if there is one), go through the task and the task format. Go through the use of the keyboard keys the kids will need

to

press

(e.g.

delete/backspace/enter/space/comma,

up/down/left/right keys, store), and revise basic desktop instructions (e.g. in the Word document or the painting programme).

4.2. During ICTs use After preparing thoroughly, remember to handle task-on procedures carefully. Let the kids do the task by themselves first. Keep going around the class to see how they are performing. This can provide an eye to e.g. each kid’s developmental route and learning

25

needs, the effect(s) of your planning, your task design, and the task level. Besides teacher scaffolding, encourage peer scaffolding too. Be as discrete as you can; kids may feel worried, assessed and/or inhibited. Discourage antagonism and encourage cooperation as a means towards socialization, self-balance, and self-discipline. Take photos of this stage, as you may need them when constructing your blog or collaborative wiki page. However, first get the children’s informed assent, and their parents informed and signed consent.

4.3. After ICTs use Every task requires a finishing touch, to ensure positive child attitude to the learning medium, the learning activity and the learning outcome. Make sure the kids’ work is saved. Praise all the class. Ask kids to talk about feelings and thoughts. Invite their suggestions for procedural improvements. In the next lesson, revise what they did last time to establish links between sessions and coherence in your teaching. If possible, devote some time to show the kids’ work on e.g. a wiki.

26

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Μ., και Κιουμουρτζόγλου, Ευθ. (2006). «Μαθαίνοντας με την τεχνολογία των πολυμέσων – Υπόσχεση ή πραγματικότητα;» Αναζητήσεις στη

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31

‘The use of ICTS in the primary A/B EFL school classes: A useful teacher’s guide’ will be especially valuable for teachers who work with very young EFL learners, as well as teacher trainers and tutors at Certificate, Diploma, Master’s and PhD programmes that have a strong practical teaching component. It combines both theory and practice; however. its practical aspect is mostly evident. Its language is simple, so that it can be used for self-learning purposes too.

ISBN 978-960-93-5478-3

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The use of ICTs in the A/B Primary School EFL classes