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Supplementing textbooks with computer-based resources in the primary EFL-classroom

[phd thesis]

Grossmann, Schimon

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Corporate Editor Pädagogische Hochschule Freiburg
Abstract Most reputable educational studies today show that there will never be a direct connection between the use of computers and learning outcomes because learning is mediated through the learning environment and the computer is only one element of that environment. Nevertheless, since most children in Germany have access to a home computer and the internet, the school as an egalitarian institute is obligated to offer pupils a level playing field. Providing some kind of access to computers is, therefore, school's responsibility to the disadvantaged and the underprivileged, irrespective of the reputed pedagogical value of such practice. As with any learning method, the use of computers in the primary English as a Foreign Language (EFL) classroom has to be practiced systematically. Until such use is anchored in the curriculum, it is essential that the teacher makes it a habit for the class to frequent the computer lab at regular intervals. Without frequent use, young learners will practically have to relearn the same computer program every time they use it. Under the tight time constraints prevailing in the EFL primary classroom and the school computer lab, and as most primary EFL teachers are generalists (non-specialists) who teach several subjects, the best possible solution would be to have the same computer program incorporated into other subjects as well, such as German or General Studies (Sachfachunterricht), similarly to content and language integrated learning (CLIL). Teachers should choose computer-assisted activities which reflect and promote pupils’ existing abilities rather than neglect or marginalize them. The suggested activity here is the production of talking books – audio-visual multimedia slideshows and photomontages. It requires pupils to use the listening and speaking skills of a storyteller rather than the reading and writing skills needed for authoring paper storybooks. Pupils whose capacity to express themselves in the foreign language is limited can achieve considerable satisfaction by using pictures to fill lexical and structural gaps. Desktop publishing software and multimedia authoring programs allow young learners of EFL to combine spoken, written, visual and graphic materials to create talking books, thus successfully expressing information and ideas which lie beyond their current level of English competence. The exposure to multi-sensory stimuli during the work with computers gives pupils more physical pegs to associate information with. Evidence suggests that this non-verbal support leads to increased learning and more effective remembering of information.
Keywords English language lessons; computer aided learning; Internet; Federal Republic of Germany; primary school; foreign language teaching; CD-ROM; software
Classification Primary Education Sector; Curriculum, Teaching, Didactics; Interactive, electronic Media
Method empirical
Free Keywords authoring tools; children programming; computer-assisted language learning (CALL); digital fluency; English education; foreign language learning; human-computer interfaces; multimedia learning; open source; primary education; technologically-enhanced language learning (TELL); textbooks; visual literacy
Document language English
Publication Year 2008
City Freiburg im Breisgau
Page/Pages 89 p.
Status Published Version; reviewed
Licence Creative Commons - Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works