Using Presentation and Communication Tools in Teaching English
One-way communication, meaning presenting, publishing and broadcasting. Examples of presentation tools for use by both teachers and students. Various outputs of this tools that allow ELL students to demonstrate their level of English proficiency.
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Использование презентационных и коммуникационных инструментов в преподавании английского языка
Using Presentation and Communication Tools in Teaching English
Анюшенкова Ольга Николаевна
Anyushenkova Olga Nikolayevna
Abstract: In this article we look at how teachers can present information in a more comprehensible way and how students can use presentation and communication tools to support their verbal interaction and output. Our focus in this article is primarily on one-way communication, meaning presenting, publishing, and broadcasting. The author gives examples of presentation tools for use by both teachers and students. The article reveals how these tools provide various outputs that allow ELL students to demonstrate their level of English proficiency.
Keywords: software, presentation tools, English Language Learner (ELL), whiteboard, interactive student response system, graphics, comprehensible, hypertext
The most basic goal for English language learners is effective communication. Both teachers and students can enhance communication with presentation and communication tools. Used properly, presentation and communication tools can promote both English language development and mastery of subject matter content in English. In many cases, using these tools benefits ELL students.
Presentation Tools for Teachers and Students. Presentation software such as Keynote (Apple), PowerPoint (Microsoft), or Impress (the free presentation tool in openoffice.org), can help teachers provide scaffolded input in many different ways. It can also support students in their English interactions and output. Teachers and ELLs can use any presentation tool their like to provide engaging, comprehensible ways to share information. First, let us look at how they can help teachers make input comprehensible for English language learners.
Teacher use of presentation tools. When introducing new information, teachers often present to the class as a whole. This can be an obstacle for English language learners because presentation often equates with telling. Telling without scaffolding for ELLs results in little or no comprehension. A simple rule of thumb is if a student could close her eyes and listen to a presentation without missing anything, the presentation needs more varied input. Seeing key words and major points in print can help ELLs grasp the overall purpose of the lesson. Let us compare an introduction to a topic done orally to one done with oral explanation plus visual keywords, and then to one done with oral explanation, visual keywords, and graphics.
Poor input for ELLs--teacher talk. In a purely oral presentation, a teacher might tell the students what the topic of the lesson is. He/she might ask students to volunteer to answer questions to estimate their familiarity with the topic. Then, the teacher might explain the topic as the students listen and/or take notes. After finishing the lecture, the teacher might have the students complete a worksheet or activity.
Better input for ELLs--Teacher talk plus written keywords. Using presentation software with the same lesson, the teacher could project a title page on a screen with the topic name. Seeing the topic name will help ELLs add it to their vocabulary in English and will allow them to copy the word for possible translation in their bilingual dictionaries. Having visuals of keywords helps, but adding graphics reduces the dependence on language to understand the concept. Let us look at how graphics can scaffold the input.
Best input for ELLs--Teacher talk plus written keywords plus graphics. An ELL student can look up the topic name in a bilingual dictionary, but if the student has not learned the concept in the native language that will not help very much. However, the student could comprehend by adding the graphic to the title page. And now the student can see an overview of the concept. The best part about using presentation software to scaffold a presentation for ELLs is that the text and visuals help all students learn better. Students whose learning styles are more visually oriented learn better and students with learning disabilities will have multiple means of taking in the information.
Poorly made presentations can cause students' attention to drift. Common pitfalls include cramming too much text on a slide, using the same layout and graphics repeatedly, and putting all the information of the lecture in the presentation and reading it to the students. These shortcomings in presentations can cause students to become not only bored but almost hypnotized by the repetition, lack of interaction, and continued focus on the screen. In addition, giving students the printed notes from the presentation can be very helpful for ELLs, but it may also cause students to pay less attention to the lecture since they already have the notes. One way to avoid this problem is to give out copies of the presentation notes with a word missing every line or two, which requires students to seek information on the projected slide to copy onto their sheets.
Student use of presentation tools. As we have seen, presentation tools help teachers make input comprehensible to English language learners. Another benefit of these tools is to support ELL students' interaction and output.
Individual student presentations. A great alternative to the traditional book report is to have students make 10-15 PowerPoint slides. For individual ELL students, summarizing a book in bulleted form on a PowerPoint presentation is a form of scaffolded output. A student who has not yet progressed to advanced levels of English proficiency can show comprehension of main points through limited-text PowerPoint slides but may not be able to compose a lengthy essay in English.
Paired student presentations. Composing PowerPoint presentations in pairs is a great way to structure student-to-student interaction. The task of composing a presentation gives a purpose to communicate and allows for tailoring different parts of the task to students' levels of English proficiency.
Interactive Tools. Blackboards and chalk have been a part of the classroom since the 1800s. Whiteboards and markers gained popularity in the last two decades. More recently, a high tech version of the whiteboard, commonly called the interactive whiteboard has become a fixture in technology-enhanced classrooms.
Interactive whiteboards. An interactive whiteboard combines the features of a whiteboard and a projection screen, allowing users to control the computer desktop projected onto the screen as well as record handwriting on the whiteboard in an electronic version. Although there are different types of whiteboard projection systems, the most common involves using a computer, a projector, and an interactive whiteboard.
Projecting a presentation on an interactive whiteboard allows the teacher or student to navigate the program from the whiteboard. Links to websites can be built into the presentation, and instead of using a mouse to click on them, the teacher or student can simply tap them on the whiteboard display.
Another function of the whiteboard allows the teacher or students to write on the whiteboard with a digital marker, and the writings, diagrams, or drawings can be saved and/or printed. This is ideal for brainstorming or for shared writing activities, such as the Language Experience Approach. It also works well for grammar instruction since the teacher and/or students can diagram a sentence (projected on the whiteboard from a computer desktop) with their digital pens and the finished product can be saved.
Interactive student response systems. An interactive student response system is a student feedback tool that works well with interactive whiteboards. Interactive student response systems are a classroom set of handheld remote computer input devices. Questions about the lesson can be projected on the whiteboard, and students respond by pressing a button on their remotes. The input is directed to the computer connected to the projector, and the percentage of answers is shown on the whiteboard.
Quizzes. With interactive student response systems, multiple choice and true/false quiz questions can be interspersed in a presentation to keep students involved.
Surveys. Opinion or survey questions can also be used. For example, during a lesson, teachers could ask students to press A if they strongly agree with one statement, B if they agree, C if they have no opinion, D if they disagree, and E if they strongly disagree. This type of anonymous interaction avoids putting ELL students on the spot and it allows them to participate.
Word Processors and Desktop Publishing Tools. The word processor has revolutionized how we compose written texts. The ability to revise and rearrange text allows writers to move through the process of composition efficiently. The common steps of the writing process are: (1) pre-writing; (2) writing; (3) revising; (4) editing; and (5) publishing. Other tools such as spell check and the dictionary/thesaurus functions enable writers to polish their work.
Grammar check functions. Some word processing programs, such as Word or the openoffice.org Writer include grammar checkers. They can be helpful for common stylistic errors, such as use of the passive voice or for common grammar mistakes, such as subject verb agreement. However, many of the typical errors that foreign language learners make are not noted by grammar checkers. For example, article use is a typical area of difficulty for many ELLs, but Word will not pick up the missing articles the following two sentences, because there are no misspellings or common usage/mechanical errors.
Track changes. Newer functions of word processors allow multiple writers to contribute to a composition. The "track changes" function in Microsoft Word shows each addition and deletion as well as comments about the text. Track changes is a useful function for peers and teachers to give feedback to students on their writing.
Hypertext links. The ability to include hypertext links in word processing documents allows teachers to provide sheltered input for ELL students. If the class is reading a literary passage that includes cultural assumptions that ELL students may not be familiar with, the teacher can include a hyperlink in the text to a Website with explanations.. [1, c.54]
Desktop publishing. The final stage of writing is publishing, and desktop publishing programs can make the written product interesting to read and professional looking. Pages can be laid out in attractive ways, with text, graphics and photographs interspersed to engage the reader. Programs such as Apple Pages, Microsoft Publisher enable users to create posters, newsletters, and brochures. Some word processing software such as Microsoft Word includes some desktop publishing functions such as the ability to put text in columns, and add graphics, clip art, and other illustrations.
Pairing ELL students and having them design and produce a brochure, an article or a report is an excellent way to increase interaction and output.
Web Page Editors and Wikis
Web page editors. Similar to desktop publishing, Web page editors allow students to write for a purpose and publish their results online or over a network. Students can work in pairs or small groups to research a topic and publish a Web page about it. Teachers can also create Web pages to post information in an easily accessible and organized format. For example, a teacher can list links on a Web page for students to access information about a particular topic. Other lessons explain teacher use of websites more in detail. There are many options for creating and hosting a website. Teacher and/or student Web pages can be hosted on a university website, or the teacher can upload the Web page to a free host. Lastly, many course management systems, such as Blackboard or the free open source program Moodle, include student Web page functions. [1, c.377]
Wikis. Perhaps the easiest, most accessible, and least expensive (often free) option for making a Web page is to create a wiki. Wikis are open access websites that let selected users add and/or change content and upload files and other information. Sometimes called a collaborative authoring tool, wikis are great organizing spaces for two or more people to work together on a project. The creator of a wiki inputs a password necessary to modify the wiki site and can give the password to anyone she invites to contribute to the wiki. To create a wiki, go to a wiki host such as wikispaces at http://www.wikispaces.com Students working on group projects can create a wiki to upload and store each person's work, revise and edit it, and pull everything together in a report.
Blogs and Podcasts. A blog is a type of a Web-based diary or journal, with the most recent entries listed first and the others following in reverse chronological sequence. Blog stands for Web log. Many teachers use blogs to post additional thoughts on the topic or events of a class meeting. They can write the blog at the level of difficulty appropriate for their students (in terms of maturity and English proficiency) and require their students to read their blogs during seatwork time or for homework.
English language learners can also create blogs to help them develop writing fluency. Teachers can suggest topics for students to write about on their blogs. It is a very simple process to set up a blog. The hardest part is the discipline to write the blog on a regular basis!
Podcasts. Podcasts are audio or video files that are available through the Internet for downloading or streaming (continuously received and displayed files that are not downloaded onto the user's computer). They are typically broadcast on a regular basis, and users can subscribe to them for recurring downloading. They can be played on iPods (or their equivalents) or computers. ELL students can create their own podcasts of audio or video files. To create a podcast, students need to record audio MP3 or video files, which can be done on the computer with a microphone or with a handheld digital recorder. The files need to be prepared for podcasting by using special sound editing software. To publish a podcast, students will need to upload it on a permanent Website and follow a few more steps to make it compatible with podcast protocols.
english communication student
Students and teachers can present and publish information with a variety of technologies. The tools we explored in this article help provide comprehensible input to ELL students, while making lessons more engaging. The interaction that presentation and communication tools enable through focused, meaningful pair and group work can be appropriately scaffolded for ELLs' comprehension and linguistic development. We saw how these tools provide varied means of output, which allow ELL students to demonstrate mastery of the content taught whether they are at beginning, intermediate, or advanced levels of English proficiency.
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