You are not studying, you are just……   

As often as language teachers lecture about the importance of continual practice to adolescent learners, the dullness of homework exercises designed primarily to be educational has difficulty competing with popular media designed solely to be entertaining. Recently, numerous attempts have been made to develop “edutainment” titles that seek to merge educational goals with entertainment content; oftentimes, however, they fail to achieve either goal and fall instead into niche markets. Rather than seeing entertainment-focused media forms as adversarial to educational content, educators should instead embrace them. This commentary examines how content originally designed for entertainment purposes can be modified to provide natural and context rich language learning environments, without sacrificing its entertainment value. First, I examine a modification to the number one selling video game The Sims that intelligently combines game data from the English edition with data from editions of other languages to form a bilingual gaming environment. This exposes learners to abundant L2 vocabulary, yet still provides enough L1 support not to detract from the game. This principle is then extended to other applications such as music videos, typing tutors, and voice-navigated games. Finally, areas of otherwise wasted time are identified, such as waiting for Web pages to load or walking to class, with suggestions of how technology can facilitate language learning during these times

Pedagogical Implications

The aforementioned findings and discussion have pedagogical and theoretical implications for language learning and for learning with multimedia in general. Furthermore, they direct our attention to some important designing principles that need to be taken into consideration when developing instructional multimedia materials.

As far as pedagogical implications are concerned, what has been mentioned above constitutes evidence addressing the design of multimedia instruction for second-language learning. Stated more specifically, what has been presented above demonstrates that exposing learners to multiple modalities of presentation (i.e., printed text, sound, picture, or video) produces a language-learning environment which can have a real impact on learning. Another pedagogical implication that can be drawn on the basis of the above findings is that “organizing information in working memory seems to be aided by learners making connections between the verbal and visual system, and this helps in linking information to components of the mental model in long-term memory” (Chun & Plass, 1996, p. 517).

Assuming that students are accustomed to traditional glosses and might not know how other types of glosses foster vocabulary learning, instructors need to spend some time training students to use software in the most beneficial way. Instructors need to explain to the students the efficacy of multimedia annotations in order to ensure that all informational categories available will be consulted by them. Thus, teachers should encourage their learners to exploit the different modalities when looking up the meaning of unfamiliar words. Instructors and program developers should consider including interesting and relevant visual material in their programs in order to increase learners’ motivation to allocate the required mental effort to learn the unknown words.

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Mobile learning: Small devices, Big issues

The use of mobile phones and other mobile devices for educational purposes has received increasing attention in recent years (Chinnery, 2006). Teachers and materials designers are starting to explore the potential of ubiquitous, relatively cheap and increasingly powerful devices as potential supports for learning and teaching. This is partly in response to learner expectations: already in 2003 a study (Thornton & Houser, 2003) found that young Japanese learners preferred to use their cellphone for almost everything, from emailing to reading books and this trend has continued, also outside Japan. A recent study in Taiwan showed that language learners enjoyed learning with their mobile phones, largely because they could learn when and where they wanted but also, interestingly, because they felt that the ‘bite-sized chunks’ of learning content (due to limitations such as screen size) were actually helpful to them in managing their learning (Chen, Hsieh, & Kinshuk, 2008). There are other potential pedagogical advantages too. Mobile phones are taken everywhere and can therefore support situated learning. For example, a second language speaker who needs to see a doctor could access relevant vocabulary and expressions while actually at the clinic. Situated learning theory holds that learning is more likely to take place when the information is contextually relevant to the learner and when it can be put to use immediately (Lave & Wenger, 1991). Related to this is the obvious fact that phones are social tools; they facilitate all forms of communication and collaboration between peers. In this way they support social and constructive activities, as supported by sociocultural theories of learning.

Another advantage of mobile devices is that they can help minimize the separation between the classroom and the out-of-school environment (Reinders & Lewis 2009). Applied linguists agree on little when it comes to theories for explaining language learning but one thing seems clear; more exposure to the target language and more practice (‘time on task’) generally explain most of the variation in students’ success. Any tool then that can help increase students’ access to the language will be helpful for long-term success.

In Korea, as in most EFL settings, many students do not seem to take up opportunities for practice such as those afforded by the internet, TV, or magazines and there is a general reluctance to seek out ways of engaging with the English language outside the classroom. We were keen to encourage our learners to feel comfortable with exposure to English and to feel in control of their independent learning experience. Using mobile phones to give students access to English, in particular for extensive listening practice, seemed a logical choice.

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L2 literacy and the design of the self: a case study of a Teenage writing on the internet

In this article,via methods of ethnographic and discourse analysis, Lam (2000) describes how texts are composed and used to represent and reposition self-identity in Internet communication and how the L2 literacy influences the identity formation of the learner.This article presents a case study of a Chinese immigrant teenage Almon, who has been living in United States for five years and still been frustrated about his English skills on the living community. Almon was then embarking on GeoCities, an online website for personal publishing and community building, to construct his own page. He located himself in the Tokyo community which was known for its Japanese pop culture. The fancy for Japanese pop culture and the motivation from the supportive audience drives him contributing more to his home page, called Mr. Children’s Ryoko Page. (http://www.geocities.com/Tokyo/Garden/5088/frame.html) In this process, Almon not only established his position and his identity in the J-pop community but also developing his English language skills. The changes that Almon experienced from a sense of alienation to a growing confidence in cross-cultural online communities raises a critical concern that ESL classroom  should not only teach standard language but also provide access to address students’ relations to multiple target languages and cultural identities.

图片2For many adolescents, life on the screen is an everyday and natural practice. We’re all well familiar with the cartoon that “on the Internet, nobody knows you are a dog” (Steiner, 1993). It is interesting that in the virtual world, we can play with our identities.We tried on different personalities and pretend to be the one we are not in real life. Though the online feature of anonymity may cause many controversy issues, we can reap good results starting with a good intension and attitude. For instance, an introvertive person or a person with inadequate language competence might have problems communicating with target language speakers. Learners may not have enough language fluency and interpersonal skills to fill in pausing time in conversations, which might cause communicating anxiety in them and in turn affect their communicating confidence in foreign language. However, the online environments provide good chances for people to display their true personalities or disguise another person in full freedom. Those who could have difficulties in communications with L2 in real life might be excellent text-users in the virtual world.

I had some personal online experience to share with. As an english major in college time, I sought for any possible opportunity to speak with native speakers. But the interactions in real contexts reduced me to anxious and frustrated situations, thus, i shifted my attention to the Internet. At the very beginning when talking with foreigners online, I honestly reported who i am and show my sincerity to the interlocutor. But an incomplete statistic showed that most of them ceased chatting with me when they know the truth that i am a Chinese girl learning english. I had no idea whether they did not feel good as a result of having been used to learn English or the limited interactions with a Chinese people using simplistic language. Then i developed strategies to make the situations better. I improved my language skills with great efforts and then pretended to be some girl from other Asian countries, like Japan, Vietnam, etc.. Be my surprise, I had more pleasant talks ever after.    

Internet technologies have become an inseparable part of people’s lives and they are of great learning potentials. Traditional methods used in language classrooms are safe to deliver lesson content, but they seemed to make learning a compulsory task and a process that must be gone through rather an enjoyable experience for the learners. The case study of Almon and my personal experience suggested that each student might has his own learning stories to be discovered and be exploited for sources of teaching ideas. A great number of previous studies also underlined the belief that the integration of Internet and pop culture into classrooms has brought with beneficial and conductive effects on student learning experience. As a 21st century teacher of L2, it is of great significance to go beyond traditional ways of teaching language rules and usages. Teachers can make use of the power and interest that pop culture brings to the net-generation and incorporate the positive and facilitating elements into the pedagogical activities, making a language learning program also a language using process. That’s also my vision in my future teaching career.

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Summary and Comment on “Productive Pedagogies” by Jackie Marsh

The article “Productive Pedagogies–Play, Creativity and Digital Cultures in the Classroom”, as the title indicates, the author intended to explore the potential of digital literacy practices in-school and out-of-school and identify what pedagogy approaches can allow students for digital play and develop the ability of creativity.  Based on one case study carried out in almost 1000 primary and secondary schools, four dimensions contribute to the success of digital literacy pedagogy: intellectual quality, connectedness, supportive classroom environment and engagement with difference. The four elements are interrelated to each other rather than being isolated. Connectedness would be the focus Marsh’s publication with regard to the importance of connecting in-school and out-of-school digital literacy practices.  Connectedness considered as one essential part of a productive pedagogy comprise the following four aspects: knowledge integration, background knowledge, connectedness to the world, and problem-based curriculum. Another case study used to investigate and test the four elements was a two-year long collaborative blogging project for Year-4 students in two primary schools in UK and US. They worked on a common topic and started to post on dinosaurs.

 

The study shows that the blogging project drew extensively on students’ background knowledge and out-of-school practices.The students included a wide range of multimodal texts in their blog formats that acquired from outside the classroom and connnected consistently with their everyday literacy practices. The study also reveal the concern about the issue of copyright and the problem of internet safety for the children bloggers. The blog instructors encourage students to develop higher critical capability and awareness of their internet identities. Furthermore, the dinosaurs blogging project enables the students to foster the ability of addressing intellectual and real-world problems as well as the ability to  draw from and integrate cross-curriculum  knowledge, like technology, science, history, art, etc..According to case study, the blogging activities contribute to the development of productive pedagogy and provide children the opportunities to practice their digital literacy and build on out-of-school knowledge. Playfulness and creativity are incorporated into classroom curriculum backed up by the productive pedagogy approach.

 

I am strongly supportive of the author’s stance that digital literacy practices should be incorporated into primary classroom curriculum. The technological trend is one that cannot be averted but to utilize as it would benefit both the teaching and learning activities. The students can develop their technological skills from an early age and facilitate their future development both in academic and career. The blog is a best space for teachers to conduct interactive and collaborative work so that the students can share and give peer feedback on others’ work. For students learning languages, blogging help them enhance their critical thinking and writing skills. With the help of digital media, teachers are offered multiple choices to draw on massive resources in an attempt to integrate some entertaining elements into class as well as activate their innovative capability.

 

However, there is some anxiety and concern raised about the issue of internet safety and copyright. The children are too young to identify and criticize the bewildering information cropping up on the screen from time to time. Their unguarded innocence would easily be the target of some evil intentions. Students might drag texts, images and videos that they are interested in from other websites to their own blogs that will unconsciously commit the guilty of violating copyright. To better make use of the virtual space, the instructor is obliged to remind the students of the invisible traps and guard them against possible violations from others or made by themselves. 

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Summary and reflection on “Language, culture, and identity in online fanfiction” by Rebecca W. Black (2006)

In this article, the author aim to demonstrate how popular culture and technology combined provide a free and unique platform for a 11-year-old Chinese girl, who moved to Canada as an ELL confronted with numerous linguistic and cultural barriers, finally transforming herself as a popular writer in a fanfiction website, during which process, she developed her English language and writing skills as well as her online identity as a multilaterate writer. 

 

The affordances of this new form of writing-fanfiction, endow people in every corner of the world with the opportunity to become writers as long as they have the passion for creative thinking and writing. People do not have to become professional before they begin chasing their dreams as writers. They can write and post their work online and earn their readers. An obvious advantage is that their works do not have to go through the examination of the publishers. Though they start simple, fanfiction.com can help build up huge confidence and is a big motivation for online writers if their talent will be recognized. Another merit of fanfiction.com is that it help develop creative writing and collaborative work. It can be useful to know more people who are interested in writing. Having a writing support group can give you feedback and keep you motivated when you’re frustrated or stuck with your writing. What’s more, when a couple of writers decide to work collaboratively on a piece of work, they can extend the vision of a story with different cultural perspectives and individual thoughts blended into one, instead of confining the scope of a story by a single writer’s knowledge. It is undeniable that great things may be done by mass effort. 

 

From Nanako’s case, who became a popular fanfiction writer, we can see that popular culture have magical power in engaging people especially young people in building up their interests and strength, develop their cultural identity and some specific skills, like language skills when writing stories in a target language. At the moment, I think of a friend of mine, who is a big fan of online chatting, is very much fond of the chatting apps Wechat. One interesting affordance of Wechat is that when we shake our smartphone, we can shake out a list of wechat users nearby. As people do not mind giving real names and authentic pictures of themselves these days, she can easily pick up some foreign users to chat with. Last time when we met, she initiated a conversation with me in English, from which i can felt the progress in her language. Thus, if any pedagogy approach is found, that is the best and easiest way to capture the interest and attention of young learners is to introduce the element of popular culture into classrooms. Learning for pleasure and learning with technologies are the learning characteristics of the 21st century. 

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My Learning Experience Online

It is estimated that almost 80 percent of the online information is presented in English. For those who want to learn an English foreign language, any click of the enormously massive and diverse information is adequate to keep their blood boiling for 24 hours. In my college time, my peer classmates not excluding me were crazy about the language learning websites: putclub, hjenglish, ebigear etc.. The first thing for us to do in the morning was to log on the websites and to keep track of the BBC and CNN news, Obama’s weekly speech and any other interesting post. The ebigear offers a useful dictation software that I would very often than not give a try . Once I complete a transcript of a video clip on the dictation software, it will revise the draft for me automatically and I don’t bother to check out what I miss or which part I made mistakes. Then I can post the transcript online for comment by other online learners. I have learned in those days the warfare in the Arab world, the peace-keeping tasks of the United Nations, the complicated issues among the world powers, the natural disasters around the global, the gain and fame in the Show Biz, etc..

Another helpful tool it can provide is a free chatting room for language learners to practice their language. The picture showed below is a chatting format located on the right bottom of the ebigear webpage.

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Oh, I suddenly learn that I haven’t logged onto those language learning websites since I began my new learning experience in Hong Kong. I miss those websites and my college time so much!!!

Just come back to what is real. When I embarked on another learning journey in Hong Kong with a New ipad, I fall for another way of learning online—learning on the TED. I think TED is one of the most symbolic and meaningful things in contemporary intellectual culture. It is a meeting-place for thinkers of “big thoughts,” who often don’t worry much about practicality. And of course we need that. Apart from implanting myself the cutting-edge information and inspiring ideas with TED, I also benefit a lot from how to shape my own presenting style and convey ideas to the public in a intriguing and logical way. The TED facebook is one that I definitely recommend if one has any interest to know more about it.

This is the first time I set up a blog for academic purpose, mainly for completing the assignments in the course of “New Literacy and Language Learning”. In order to act accordance with the requirement of the assignment, which is to read and summarize academic articles and online sources about new literacies and language learning, thus, any topics concerned with new technologies in language teaching have the possibilities to appear in my blog. Moreover, as the nature of the TESL program determines, I have a couple of teaching skills drilling class over this semester and I intend to put some reflective journals on language teaching as I gain more knowledge and experience in teaching. As a language learner and as a language teacher-to-be, I will try hard to create blogs that can help to enhance English proficiency and English teaching proficiency. On the one hand, the academic purpose of this blog should be strongly felt, and on the other, the blog should be a pleasant place that readers would like to click another time.

To be honest, before posting the first blog, I have mixed feelings. Once the blog is published, it reaches wider and is exposed to uncertain audience, mainly those who are interested in the topic of course. I just presume that a good point in my blog would trade another brilliant idea from others. So I would feel heavier posting an academic blog than I post any one before. However, I am looking forward to any response from my peer classmates, my course instructor and my audience, if there is any, for their views and comments would surely complement my incomprehensive knowledge about a certain area or a topic. And words of recognition and appreciation would be a big bonus for my effort working out the blog.

Sweet dream!!!

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