Why should I use multimedia materials, when I have so much else to worry
Multimedia materials deliver language content through a combination
of sounds and images. The use of pictures, photos, graphics, animation,
colour and music has great novelty effect for students. Their attention
is more easily foccussed. Perhaps more importantly, MM products for
language learning are designed so that students manipulate the language
in much the same way as they manipulate icons in computer games. This
gives them interactive independence. The activities are all under their
control. They work alone, manipulating, repeating, practising and trying
out their ideas.
Oh, right! But how does this help me, the teacher?
In two very important ways! First, it lessenes the burden on the teacher,
and second, it facilitates the cognitive processes necessary for language
learning, so that learning becomes more efficient and more effective!
Can you be more specific?
Yep! There are four stages in the learning process: input, noticing,
intake and output! Input is the process where the students recieve new
language material from their teacher, their environment or the textbook.
Noticing is what we hope they do when presented with the new material.
They need to be paying conscious attention to the information. Intake
is the process of working with the new material, practising it, repeating,
making errors, correcting themselves and so on and output is when they
use the new language in some way.
That sounds good, but this process often breaks down, surely? My students
are simply not motivated.
Exactly! Si this is when MM materials can help to keep student motivation
Please explain, I am not reallly convinced!
With pleasure! Imagine you wish to teach your 3º ESO students the
difference between the present simple and the present continuous and
in particular adverbs of frequency. Longman's Round-up 3* presents these
structures by means of a beautiful illusatrated, fill-in-the-gap story.
Adverbs of frequency arw highlighted in different colours and students
choose and click on the correct verb forms, which then appear in the
gaps. All the important conceptual clues are provided by the picture,
the colours are stimulating and cheerful, the highlighting makes the
key points salient and noticeable to the students. All manipulation
is under the student's own control. He gets immediate feedback on each
answer so he may try again if his answer is incorrect. He can use the
dictionary or ask for help by clicking on an icon, he can go back to
the previous exercise for clarification and he can save his score at
the end of the exercise.
Well, it's true! That does sound useful. But aren't these materials
only good for the practise stage or should I say intake stage? Can I
present or input new language with MM material, too?
Yes you may, there are other products that present and practice, general
English cousrses for example that present language by means of digital
video clips with subtitles offering meaning-focussed tasks and follow-up
exercises. At the present time however, and for uou porpuse in compulsory
education, it seems to make more sense that we supplement pour tried
and true textbooks with MM materials.
Ok, and what do you think about language games? Aren't these just fun
and not very serious?
No, of course not, we are talking about those that have been professionally
developed based on a sound pedagogial foundation. In fact, there is
now some important research evidence that shows that the language learning
is in fact more efficient and effective with the use of MM materials.
The key, I believe, is to spend a little time familiarising yourself
with these products and it will become clear very quickly how helpful
they can be for both the teacher and the student and how they can be
added to the curriculum and inseted into the timetable.
Great! If it's good for my students and I, then it's certainly worth
a try! Thanks!