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Teachers Cannot Divide Class Into Small Groups Because

Teachers Cannot Divide Class Into Small Groups Because

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07/01/2009

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MY OPINION ON THE CONTRIBUTION OF MULTIMEDIATOOLS TO EFL SETTINGS UNFAMILIAR WITH TECHNOLOGY
Author 
Vu Thi Phuong Thao
Hanoi University of Foreign Studies, Vietnam
In the era of information technology, there appear more and more teachingmethods. One of these is multimedia tool which has been applied in manyuniversities in Vietnam as well as in other countries in the world. Regarding therole of multimedia tool in English teaching and learning, Vu (2003) had anarticle titled “The Contribution of Multimedia Tools to EFL settings unfamiliar with Technology”. I would like to present some view points with Vu as thefollowing.Firstly, no one can deny that multimedia has laid a rather important role inEnglish teaching and learning. Hanoi University of Foreign Studies (the newname now is Hanoi University-HU) is the first university that has employedmultimedia tool. As the results from Vu (2003), all teachers and students in thesurvey shared the same opinions which highly appreciated the role of multimedia in teaching and learning. They are all interested in teaching andlearning with multimedia assistance because their aims and demand were met.Especially, students’ level of English was improved, and students’ motivationincreased so much. This created enthusiasm for both students and teachers. Infact, Vietnamese learners really like new things in learning because they used tostudy a foreign language with teacher and textbooks only. There are often nomodern visual aids such as overhead projector, computer, etcThe mainknowledge students gain is just from the textbooks, so sometimes students lack interest and motivation in their learning process. As the results, their English proficiency is not as high as they expect. When students have chances to studyin a modern and technological environment such as learning with computer, TV,headphones… it is impossible for them not to be curious with these tools. Now HU is one of the language specialized universities in Vietnam, so theapplication of multimedia in teaching is of great important. I totally agree withVu’s viewpoints (2003) that multimedia plays a special and significant role inlanguage teaching and learning. In her article, Vu (2003) raised a problemfacing teachers and learner. That is the problem of “computer skill andtechnical problems”. In fact, not all English teachers are familiar with computer skills because they do not often have to work with computer, or they rarelyreceive any computer training. As a result, if multimedia tool is employed inteaching process, teachers must be trained with computer skill and of course,this will take time. Not only teachers but also students rarely have anopportunity to learn a foreign language with computer. The reasons are quite
 
simple. Firstly, not all schools can afford to install computer system for teachingand learning aims. They lack money for this or they are not in the priority list of receiving money subsidized from the Government in the field of education andtraining. Secondly, once the school has condition to install computer system for the aim of teaching and learning, they lack technical teachers who can beresponsible for operating the computers fluently. And as I mentioned above,language teachers are those who can teach language only not for maintainingthe machines. Therefore, installing computer system turns out to be useless inthis condition. Moreover, students lack computer skill, they are not professionalcomputer operators. When they are allowed to learn with computer, some of them even do not know how to switch it on and it takes time for teacher andstudents to fix the problems. Thus a 45-minute lesson becomes a less than 20-minute lesson, so teacher cannot convey all the content of the lesson to studentsas planned.Another factor related to multimedia is the textbooks accompanied with the programs. As Vu (2003) mentioned in her articles, there are two main sources of teaching in Hanoi university namely Pre-intermediate Headway Video (Falla,1994) and The ABC News Intermediate ESL Video Library (Business Watch(Maurice, 1994), Culture Watch (Tomalin, 1994), Earth Watch (Stemplesk,1994) and Health Watch (Arcario, 1994). These textbooks are designed for language specialized universities not for all university in general. Thus,textbook is also a real problem facing teaching applied multimedia toolsnowadays. In my university, English is not regarded as a major subject. Studentshave to learn a given textbook. At the end of the semester, they have to take anexam focusing on reading and writing without any listening or speaking exams.For the need of the exam, students only pay attention to doing and learninggrammar points and exercises in class, and they do not care of other skills for  practice. When students have chances to study in language lab, they show nointerest with the lessons. The answer for this situation is that teachers do nothave suitable textbooks for lessons as well as students feel no interest inlearning.Moreover, it is rather difficult for teacher to carry out lesson with language labequipped with multimedia. There are often from 30 to 35 cabins in the labwhereas the number of students in each class is often from 45 to 50 or evenmore than that number. Teachers cannot divide class into small groups becausethe timetable is fixed at the beginning of the semester. In addition to this,dividing class into smaller ones will affect to other subjects which seem to beimpossible and unsuitable.In the trend of educational renovation in the modern society, it is of greatimportant to apply modern methodology in education and training in generaland in English teaching in particular. Of these methodologies, communicativelanguage teaching (CLT) proves to be effective. Students will be improvedcomprehensively in four skills in terms of listening, speaking, writing and

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