MY OPINION ON THE CONTRIBUTION OF MULTIMEDIA TOOLS TO EFL SETTINGS UNFAMILIAR WITH TECHNOLOGY

Author Vu Thi Phuong Thao

Hanoi University of Foreign Studies, Vietnam
http://www.asian-efl-journal.com/sept_03_sub3.php

In the era of information technology, there appear more and more teaching methods. One of these is multimedia tool which has been applied in many universities in Vietnam as well as in other countries in the world. Regarding the role of multimedia tool in English teaching and learning, Vu (2003) had an article titled “The Contribution of Multimedia Tools to EFL settings unfamiliar with Technology”. I would like to present some view points with Vu as the following. Firstly, no one can deny that multimedia has laid a rather important role in English teaching and learning. Hanoi University of Foreign Studies (the new name now is Hanoi University-HU) is the first university that has employed multimedia tool. As the results from Vu (2003), all teachers and students in the survey shared the same opinions which highly appreciated the role of multimedia in teaching and learning. They are all interested in teaching and learning with multimedia assistance because their aims and demand were met. Especially, students’ level of English was improved, and students’ motivation increased so much. This created enthusiasm for both students and teachers. In fact, Vietnamese learners really like new things in learning because they used to study a foreign language with teacher and textbooks only. There are often no modern visual aids such as overhead projector, computer, etc… The main knowledge 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 study in 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 the application of multimedia in teaching is of great important. I totally agree with Vu’s viewpoints (2003) that multimedia plays a special and significant role in language teaching and learning. In her article, Vu (2003) raised a problem facing teachers and learner. That is the problem of “computer skill and technical problems”. In fact, not all English teachers are familiar with computer skills because they do not often have to work with computer, or they rarely receive any computer training. As a result, if multimedia tool is employed in teaching process, teachers must be trained with computer skill and of course, this will take time. Not only teachers but also students rarely have an opportunity to learn a foreign language with computer. The reasons are quite

simple. Firstly, not all schools can afford to install computer system for teaching and 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 and training. Secondly, once the school has condition to install computer system for the aim of teaching and learning, they lack technical teachers who can be responsible for operating the computers fluently. And as I mentioned above, language teachers are those who can teach language only not for maintaining the machines. Therefore, installing computer system turns out to be useless in this condition. Moreover, students lack computer skill, they are not professional computer 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 and students to fix the problems. Thus a 45-minute lesson becomes a less than 20minute lesson, so teacher cannot convey all the content of the lesson to students as 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 tools nowadays. In my university, English is not regarded as a major subject. Students have to learn a given textbook. At the end of the semester, they have to take an exam focusing on reading and writing without any listening or speaking exams. For the need of the exam, students only pay attention to doing and learning grammar 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 no interest with the lessons. The answer for this situation is that teachers do not have suitable textbooks for lessons as well as students feel no interest in learning. Moreover, it is rather difficult for teacher to carry out lesson with language lab equipped with multimedia. There are often from 30 to 35 cabins in the lab whereas the number of students in each class is often from 45 to 50 or even more than that number. Teachers cannot divide class into small groups because the 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 be impossible and unsuitable. In the trend of educational renovation in the modern society, it is of great important to apply modern methodology in education and training in general and in English teaching in particular. Of these methodologies, communicative language teaching (CLT) proves to be effective. Students will be improved comprehensively in four skills in terms of listening, speaking, writing and

reading. One of the applications of CLT in language class is using multimedia. But as I mentioned above, for non English specialized universities, students do not like learning listening and speaking and they lack motivation in learning these skills. As the result, the application of multimedia in these universities is not truly effective. In conclusion, all the above- mentioned are my viewpoints shared with Vu (2003) concerning the matter of using multimedia in language learning.

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