1. VISUAL, AURAL AND AUDIO-VISUAL MATERIALS
A number of new techniques for teaching English have been developed thanks to new technologies and the decease in price of appliances. These machines have contributed greatly to the diversification of teaching activities. They make learning more enjoyable and they are more and more widely used.
They are quite available and cheap. They include a wide variety of text types and a great amount of information from and about the target culture. It is an interesting way to bring the real world into the learning situation.
It is also useful for integrating skills. Reading material leads easily into discussions and writing activities.
Stories are interesting but date over very quickly. So, it may be better to collect human interest stories which do not became out of date for a long period of time.
However, even older pupils find newspapers difficult because of the special grammar conventions, unknown vocabulary, cultural references, etc. we should teach them some of the conventions of the newspaper style at a basic level.
Some activities can be:
· Writing and replying small advertisements
· Writing and replying to letters to agony aunts
· Reordering paragraphs
· Replying to job ads
· Predicting horoscopes
we can use this projector to show any material to the whole group. It is not useful for a long term.
· Overhead projector:
It is used with transparencies, which are very easy to elaborate. They can be partially covered and also superposed, so language can be presented gradually. They are good for presentation and correction.
They can be easily made by the teacher or the pupils. They focus attention, being motivating and useful for story telling.
· Comics and storybooks:
Pictures are very motivating for children and help to understand the story. They usually have short texts, with similar structures. They can be used to fill the bubbles, ordering the sequence, describing, retelling.
They have very attractive pictures, good for cut-outs. Children can create their own material or illustrate descriptions of famous people.
There is a wide range of posters and wall charts, in different types and sizes. They can be a guide for common expressions, reminders and visual aides. Very useful for descriptions.
They must be small and resistant, easy to manipulate. Good for new vocabulary presentation, games, hide and seek, pointing, …
It is the most used in school. It is good for spontaneous examples and presenting new language. The magnetic ones can be used for presenting or illustrating an issue. The magnetic cut-outs can get moved and superposed.
Is a wonderful way to develop listening skills. Graded radio lessons offer the opportunity to listen to programmes adapted to the pupils’ abilities, motivating them to future authentic listening. However, our pupils do not have the necessary linguistic abilities to cope with radio programmes.
· Cassette recorder:
The development of listening skills in the classroom situation relies on recorder material. Cassettes provide a good model of spoken English. It is very useful for introducing new language and songs. Children’s utterances can be recorded to be conscious of pronunciation. They can contrast their performance with the good model and also it can be useful for checking pronunciation achievement. There must be activities for pre, while and post-listening. It can be listened more than once. There could be a listening corner in the classroom.
· Language “lab”:
Children work individually. It is useful for practising oral drills. It can also be boring and with no purpose.
They include both, sound and pictures.
A TV language programme offers audio-visual clues to meaning. Students hear the language and see the context. It is a powerful motivator. It brings the outside world into the classroom, it is a powerful stimulus to talk about. It introduces the culture of the target language into the classroom and means a change from the teacher and the textbook, although it is difficult, for it cannot be repeated or stopped.
Recordings offer the possibilities a live programme cannot. Teachers can plan the activities from a great range of sources:
· Language-teaching broadcast
· Films, cartoons, advertisements,…
· TV programmes, documentaries
· Video recordings of classroom activities
Video recordings show language in a context. The learners can see why things are said in a different way. They can pick speakers’ feelings and attitudes. Video presentations allow reviewing and comprehension questions, follow-up ideas and suggestions. They generate interest and motivation and a good atmosphere for a successful learning.
Teachers must take advantage of the power of video-films to create a successful language environment. It should be used as another technique for facilitating language acquisition.
Learners must take part and not think they are being entertained or watching TV passively. It is essential the gradual introduction of video in the classroom.
Video-based lesson planning
For a one-hour class, it is enough to use an extract of between three and five minutes. If its length is of 15 minutes or more, it is better to play it once through and then go back and concentrate on short extracts.
Viewing the video about three times gives us the chance to get familiar with it, study the language and behaviour as well as language use. If the video is difficult we may set the scene and explain a few words and sentences essential to understanding.
For the first time students watch video, we could set an active viewing task with techniques as silent viewing, prediction, thinking and feeling, sound only, true or false sentences, etc.
· There is a technique which requires answering these questions after viewing: where, when, who, what, why, how?
· Silent viewing: the sound is turned down. Learners can predict or guess what might be said. When the sound is played we can check whether their expectations were right.
· Freeze frame: pressing the pause button allows to look more closely at individual images, utterances, … within a sequence. It is useful for detailed language study, observation and description.
· Role play: acting out involves practising the exact words of a dialogue. For that, learners will need to look at the script and reproduce gestures, expressions, etc. It is important to be able to transfer language from the situation on the screen to their own usage. They can carry out creative activities like changing the setting somehow.
· Behaviour study: it focuses on non-verbal ways to express (facial expressions, gesture, dresses, physical contact) The main aim is to make learners conscious of the behaviour conventions in other cultures. They could be compared to behaviour conventions in their own culture.
· Prediction: the teacher stops the video and asks what is going to happen next (look at the title and predict the topic, predict the end, guess the title, write the dialogue)
· Thinking and feeling: this technique focuses on emotions between characters and its relation with what it is said (body language, certain words, what the characters are thinking, how they would feel in case …, etc.)
· Sound only: the screen must be covered or turned round. It is good for describing things or people, identifying things by sounds or following a description of something.
· Watchers and listeners: half the class watches the scene and the other half listens. The watchers explain to the listeners what they have seen. It is a good practice in speaking, observation and accurate reporting.
· Telling the story: the learners watch the end of a video sequence and try to construct the story. Then, they watch and contrast.
· Culture comparison: it focuses on differences and similarities between the own culture and the target culture. It makes learners aware of their own culture.
· Video camera: four steps can be suggested to make use of the video recorder:
· Talking head: one person talking to the camera
· Dialogues: people talking together
· Group discussion: a group is filmed while discussing
· A project work: the use of a camera for recording interesting items, and also the learners’ performances in the target language.
To evaluate the video, it must be reflected the aims of using it. if there are no specific learning aims, there is no point in making a film.
Learning with computers is quite new, as there are only programmes for beginners in certain areas, such as word building, vocabulary, prepositions, etc. It is very useful at personal level but not in conventional schools.
It is quite expensive for a group and it needs some knowledge on how to operate it.
Sometimes it makes tasks easier and more enjoyable. It is highly motivating.
The main activities are matching, gap-filling, sentence correction, multiple choice, odd out, putting the paragraphs in order, relating parts, true or false, etc.
There is a programme called “Grammar Checker” for spelling mistakes, punctuation, usage, … but it cannot correct meaning and style.
It is good for teachers if programmes are already made. They can use the spare time to assist weaker pupils.
It can result boring sometimes. It can only be used for written skills.