II. Issue or problem to be addressed that technology can help with
Building Teaching Skills Through the Interactive Web
Planning and preparing to implement a change related to technology use in English classroom
Larissa Golikova, Kazakhstan
· Who are the learners?
The class is expected to be involved in the experimental study consists of 56 students of different nationalities: Russians, Kazakhs and Uzbeks. Apart from their native language, they speak fluent Russian and Kazakh. Students are 18-19 years of age, mainly females. They are working for their Bachelor degree at a teacher training college (in Kazakhstan it is called – South-Kazakhstan State Pedagogical Institute) to become school English teachers. They are approximately intermediate senior students. They study English as a second language for the third year.
As far as the subject is concerned I have selected Theoretical Phonetics. The course of lectures on Theoretical phonetics is one of the main subjects. The students normally study Theoretical Phonetics during the spring semester. I deliver 15 lectures for a term, once a week for 1 contact-hour (50 min.). In addition, the students have an hour per a week for an individual work under the guidance of the lecturer.
This is a lecture mode class where students feel little sense of responsibility and expose low motivation for further learning. The students can be competitive from time to time and rather creative if the studied topic is easy to perceive.
With reference to their personal interests, they focus on singing, dancing, going for sport, doing language courses to learn other foreign languages (e.g. Turkish, Chinese are very popular in our city), travelling and so on.
· What is the setting?
The students of my class represent South-Kazakhstan State Pedagogical Institute in Shymkent, Kazakhstan. There are five research schools. The students of my class belong to Research School of the Humanities and Social Sciences, Department of English Philology.
Classrooms in our institute are well equipped, with Internet connectivity and smart boards, but not the ones I teach phonetics. So if describe my class setting, unfortunately, there is nothing but my laptop. There is only one LCD projector for the whole department, so it is impossible to use it for every lecture. Moreover, it takes much time to install it. There is no Internet assess in the classroom where I give lectures. That is why it is problematic for me to use web technology tools inside the classroom.
However all the students have smart phones, i-phones, some of them use tablets and other technology gadgets and they are fairly good at searching for useful information via these devices. The students are active members of various social nets: Facebook, Tweeter, some of the national social nets such as Vkontakte, My world. At home they use PCs, Laptops, fast Wi-Fi connection and all of them have basic computer skills.
· What are the course goals?
As is mentioned above the whole course of Theoretical Phonetics is 94 hours long, divided into 3 blocks: 5 hours for lecturing and 5 ones for individual practical lessons for each block. Each block ends with a summative block test in the Information Center of the institute. Besides lectures and practical classes the course includes working on the course paper.
As regards the course of Theoretical Phonetics within the period of the 1st block from Week 1 to Week5
1 (C) after being lectured the set of themes (5) according to the syllabus, (A) the students are expected (B) to master fundamentals of phonetics theory; specific features of English sounding speech organization and function and (D) put theoretical knowledge in practice during a summative block test in the Information Center of the institute (50 questions, 60 minutes);
2 (C) after doing additional readings on the themes (5) according to the syllabus, (A) the students are expected (B) to create at least one mind-map that demonstrates the understanding of key ideas and relations among them and (D) post it on the class Wiki and one comment on a peer’ mind-map due 2 days after the lecture;
3 (C) after being lectured and doing additional readings on the themes (5) according to the syllabus, (A) the students are expected (B) to do at least 3 practical assignments in accordance with a created rubric and (D) post them on Wallwisher and at least one comment on another person’s post due the day before the next lecture.
· Why are the students studying English? What will they use English for in their lives?
The students of the described group are future English teachers, so the purpose for studying English lies in their professional interests. Moreover, English as a subject is used as a means to form and develop persons’ competences: communicative, professional, socio-cultural, autonomy and some others.
· Describe anything else that is significant or relevant about the course that may potentially relate to your plan.
Due to the fact that a class period lasts just 50 minutes and this time is sufficient just to introduce the key points of the lecture, the students are expected to work greater part of the time outside of the classroom collaborating and communicating with their group mates. The employment of a new technology tool will influence the development of the students’ ability to take charge of their own learning, engage the students in regular evaluation of the process both as individual learner and as a group of learners, enhance their capacity for critical thinking, decision-making and independent activity. That is to form the students as autonomous learners. All these facts will lead to the increase of the students’ motivation to Theoretical Phonetics as a scientific subject, in particular, and English language learning as a whole.
II. Issue or problem to be addressed that technology can help with
In the process of teaching academic subjects such as Theoretical Phonetics I face a number of problems. However, the urgent one is the lack of students' skill to read. Academic lessons involve a variety of skills and strategies combined with background knowledge which the students should possess to grasp the needed study material. Unfortunately not all students can boast of having well-developed skills such as summarizing, identifying the idea, analyzing, distinguishing between ideas - i.e. the ones belonging to academic reading competence.
That's why they think that Theoretical Phonetics is a fairly complicated subject to master. At times I can hear the following complaints: "I can't do practical assignments because the stuff is not clear" or "Theoretical Phonetics is difficult to perceive because there is much information and I can't select the most important facts" and etc.
I want to employ a new technological tool in lecturing to enhance their academic reading competence and as a result increase their motivation. Having observed the students in the process of teaching I came to the conclusion that poor academic reading skills result in low motivation to the subject. So the usage of new technologies will help me, on the one hand, to succeed in lecturing, on the other – to evolve the love to academic subjects and enhance my students' academic reading competence.