Lina Vanessa Cárdenas Luna The Significance of Using Different Materials in Teaching-Learning Process Date: April 10, 2012

Amazonia University Objective: To reflect upon the use and implementation of different materials in ESL/EFL learning

How to teach English is a great and important matter we as teachers face nowadays. So, there are many tools and materials created by many people, companies, publishing houses everyday and every moment. We need to know what kind of material use according to our students’ level, age, context and interest. For that reason, it is necessary to implement the more adequate strategies and resources in order to improve teaching – learning process. It is very important to use different kind of materials with our students and engage them during the classes, but for that we have to take in mind the significance of vary the materials and activities each class to catch our students’ attention and in that way they can learn meaningfully and easily. Maggie McCormick notes that teaching English as second or foreign language surely is difficult, and more if we do not have the appropriate training to do it. It is important to know the current level of our students, their needs and likes helping them to achieve their objectives, which are different for each one. Make our classes enjoyable to the students using different kind of activities and resources according to the context the process takes place getting the better results for us and for our students.The success of learning process depends to the skillful mediation or performance of anexcellent professional person, that person is the teacher. Many teachers use instructional materials most of the time in the classes, they use textbooks, workbooks, worksheets, magazines, newspapers, videos, audios, etc. So I think it is so essential to have in mind when to use it and how to use it, according to our lesson aims and objectives and the time we are going to work with the students. When we are going to use textbooks or workbooks, we need to analyze each aspect and characteristic of them, taking into account relevant aspects to evaluate and decide for getting them. We must analyze many relevant aspects like who the students are, the content and the context of our students, their age and the level they are, our syllabus, book vocabulary and structures, connection between the topics but the variety of them at the

same time; the kind of skills the book contains and the meaning of exercises the students could develop in order to improve their learning meaningfully; and the most important thing to consider is to use them sometimes as a complementary resource to our teaching learning process because on the contrary they could be boring if we use them all or most of the time. In the other hand, related to the magazines, newspapers and videos it is adequate to bear in mind that they are authentic materials, it means they are no made for educational purposes, for instance, we have to know how to adapt them according to our students needs and according to the topic, the activities and different aspects which involve our physical environment. For example when we are going to use newspapers, we have to consider the teaching setting. If the students are beginners we can use several pictures from the newspaper and allow them to select the pictures they like and then, they need to say what they like from them. Another useful activity we could use with beginner students is to ask them cutting pictures and make posters, for example, if the topic is feelings they have to look for pictures about happy, sad, sick, sleepy… people in the newspaper or magazines and put it in the posters; you can use that activity for any topic and the students enjoy and learn much in that way. For intermediate students, we could develop an activity called sequencing or story, in that exercise we can give to the students a paragraph from an article and then they need to reorganize the new or the article in a logical and chronological order. With advanced group we could give to them by groups an article, they need to read it and then, they are going to discuss the news and try to give suggestions or possible solutions to the problem they read. Other is evaluating, they have to organize posters or collages about a general topic and each week we ask them to present their work to the rest of the class. I consider work with authentic materials is a little difficult due to we need to adapt them to our students, they are time consuming, but at the end we could observe the great results if we implement them in an adequate way; also, the students can learn in an enjoyable and meaningful way, they can improve their reading, writing and speaking skills so much. I have used them sometimes and I can say my students learn better because they can be in contact with real life

situations and learn about general culture and be up date about what is happening in the world. The same use we can give to videos and songs, we use them specially to improve our learners listening and speaking skills, we can use a video about some problems in some places, and then we can ask them to talk about a similar problem or situation which is happening in our country, city or town. When we use songs the students learn so much, they can sing, dance, draw and complete gaps and whatever activity we want according to learners’ level; as Sam Shepherd, Teacher, New Zealand says, “naturally certain texts will lend themselves more easily to certain levels, For lower levels the task should be simple and relatively undemanding, and it is important to pre-teach key vocabulary so as to prevent panic. At more intermediate levels this list could include four or five minutes TV or radio news reports, TV programmes, and it is important to teach vocabulary before it. At an advanced level students should have some tactics for dealing with new vocabulary without panicking, but it's still useful to have a few quick definitions to hand for some of the trickier stuff” As can be seen using authentic materials is a proper way to improve our students skills and their confident in real life situation getting them motivated and interested to learn more than a language. Other interesting, useful and new tool to teach is the technology, nowadays, many teachers face the matter of using computers assistant language learning (CALL), web 2.0, blogs, and many media in language learning, they do not know how to use web 2.0 and technological materials to develop an activity during the class, but it is very important teachers challenge the new ways and advance the world present everyday. the work of Tsou, Wang & Tzeng, 2006 indicates that computers and technology are still a source of fears and insecurity for many teachers everywhere in the world, regardless of the latest advances applicable to language teaching such as specialized and useful websites, blogs, wikis, language teaching methodology, journals, and so, teachers do not have the ability to use them or they do not know the adequate way to use them. Even though, many institutions have done efforts to modernize their equipment, spending large amounts in technology, providing the positive effects of integrating computers in language learning.

Using Computer assistant has many advantages, because they can provide to the students enjoyable and interesting exercises while they are learning. I am working in an English laboratory at the Amazonia University and I have the opportunity to observe some classes, the students can work in a pedagogical program and they can do many kind of exercises which involve all the skills and abilities for each level, vocabulary; grammar; oral comprehension; writing and reading comprehension, general culture, so they have to select the kind of activity and skills they want to practice or work in a guide mode, in which the program is suggesting to the students the steps to follow in order to develop the activities in a chronological way and combining the skills. Students who work with that program show interest to continuo discovering each exercise while they are advancing on it and they learn well, but what happen, the laboratory has other functions which some teachers do not use sometimes, because they are lazy to prepare classes when they have the lab for them, that functions are sharing videos with the students, transferring files, chatting with them individually; by groups or with whole class, speak with them individually using the headphones, monitoring them and many kind of strategies in order to make the class different from the others which are carry out in a traditional classroom. "The greatest potential of the computer for educators lies in its potential as a tool for students to use to solve problems and to explore new ideas and concepts." Dudley-Marling, Reading Teacher, 1985

The web offers us meaningful strategies to implement in our teaching learning process with our learners, because they like to spend the time using internet, social groups like facebook, skype, messenger, and twitter and so on. For that we must be current in that aspect. Using facebook to teach can be an useful tool, we can first create a group and add our students to it, then posts videos and songs, asking them to watch and listen and then, write comments about what they understand from the video or what is the sequence or objective of that. We have the opportunity to chat with them practicing the language they are learning and correct some mistakes they have, we can send links to students explore and read, work and comment. On skype we can practice speaking skill with the students and sometimes invite them to speak with foreign people in order to improve our listening and know different kind of accents and

expressions. Although, this tool presents some disadvantages like time consuming activities, get problems with the connection, students do not have the internet service all the time; we must to look for possible solutions for that problems. Other kind of resource we could implement in our classes is games, because they engage all the students and all students like them. For all the settings and levels we can use games in order to change the routine of the lesson and improve students learning and also rapport in the classroom. Games can be used at any time during the class, at the beginning; at the middle or at the end, some interesting games we can develop with our students and I suggest can be: memory games; races; scramble words, letters, names… guessing the word, picture guess, lottery, bingo, around the world and many others. I have had excellent results and also better friendship between students. When we are using games we can observe that students who do not speak or participate in class have the opportunity to do it through games and share with all their classmates. Similar to the others materials, games have advantages and disadvantages, they can help to promote a not appropriate behavior during the activity, students can be sad when they are no the winners, time consuming, however there are many points in favor for them. For avoiding problems while we are developing them we need to create some strategies and be clear with the rules before starting play. Using different kind of materials in our classes is the key strategy. We as teachers have to know what to use, when to use it, how to develop the activity, who develop with, because it is necessary to select the more appropriate or adequate tool according to our teaching setting and content. Also, we need to have the ability to adapt some authentic materials according to our students’ context, age, level, needs, interest and likes. Other important aspect to consider is to change the kind of exercises each class in order to catch students’ attention and make the class enjoyable for them. We can ask students likes and expectations, identifying their learning styles and change the traditional classes and methodologies.