Using QQ Chatting to Practice English Patterns among New Oriental School Language Learners in China
Importance of using technology in promoting language learners’ ability to effectively use language can not be ignored. Nowadays there are numerous number of technology-based language materials that a language learner might use dependently or independently. One of the technologies which is widely used by language teachers is CALL. The area that we are discussing in this paper is the use of internet for the sake of language teaching and learning. The technology which specifically is used in this research is QQ. QQ is an IM, like MSN or Gtalk and is very popular in China. So far no study has been conducted among the primary students at private language schools in China using internet to evaluate the teachability and learnability. In the network classroom, teacher assumes the role of facilitator of learner activity (Harasim, 1986: p.65, referenced by Ken Beatty in his book Teaching and Researching CALL). In the following study, I tried to play the role of facilitator to help students communicate effectively and use their English to negotiate meaning as much as possible. As mentioned by Ken Beatty, one might use technology to establish a field of courseware known as edutainment. According to Bill Anderson, instructors must examine the affordances and features of the technologies of communication and use them to support the educational goals of students. Traditionally, much research on CALL has focused on whether or not students learn better with a computer. But, the question is no longer whether or not computers should be used in the classroom. Questions now include how computers should be used and for what purpose (Teaching and Researching CALL, Ken Beatty, P. 190). We might consider using technology-based teaching to improve students’ language abilities, and to use it effectively, we should think of how it can do the improvement. If any kind of technology is being used by a teacher, the teaching method should change accordingly. Besides, role of teacher is more significant and might be shifted from an instructor to a facilitator. Chapelle and Jamieson (1991) summarized ten studies from 1971 to 1986 and suggested that they do not provide strong empirical evidence for the superiority of CALL over classroom instruction (p. 37). However, a more recent review by Meich, Nave and Mosteller (1996) in an examination of 22 empirical CALL studies conducted between 1989 and 1994 concluded the opposite: CALL can “substantially improve achievement as compared with traditional instruction” (p. 1) (referenced by Ken Beatty, Teaching and Researching CALL, P. 197). In an experiment conducted by Hema Rosheny Mustafa, Noridah Sain and Noor ZainabAbdul Razak called “Using Internet for Learning Vocabulary among Second Language Learners in a Suburban School”, it has been investigated that whether using computer assists the learning of vocabulary among second language learners in a suburban secondary school in Malaysia. Their findings suggested that the experimental group showed great result in learning vocabulary using computer. In the following study, use of text-mode QQ will be assessed among the New Oriental School Language Learners in China.
At the time of doing the experiment I was in China, Wuhan city, and to do my experiment I asked one of the famous private language schools’ manager, to let me keep in touch with a number of students for a few sessions to practice what they have already been taught at school. It should be mentioned that my cooperation with the school was temporary and for the sake of the experiment. Actually, the students already had their own teacher. I explained to the responsible teacher that I want to use QQ to enhance students’ ability to communicate effectively; besides to work on one of the class weak points to see if I can facilitate teachability and learnability and make improvement.
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Literacy for kids is completely different than what adults assume it to be. Literacy for a paret would be to educate the kid to an extent wherein, in the future, he can read and write. Adults want kids to learn the language but the learning language approach is different for kids while it is different for adults. Kids love to understand by way of drawing pictures and speaking about things that they have done. For parents, there are two language learning approaches, that is, Phonics and whole language approach. It is rightly said that children make their own book, their book cannot be read and understood by an adult (Swan 2010).
If two parents speak two different languages then the kids also get trained automatically to speak both the languages. Usage of both the language is termed as bilingualism. In this case, the language which the kid uses pre-dominantly becomes the first language and they too become more fluent in that particular language. Training the kids to speak both the languages is a difficult task but there are teachers available for this. (Purcell, L)
Phonics is one of the common approaches that are used by teachers for language learning. This method is used in schools so that the children are trained, right from the starting to speak correctly. Phonics approach can be stated as an approach that allows the learner to understand the connection between the alphabet and the sound that is created. In this approach the teacher will collect a list of words that sound similar so that the children can understand the similarity as well as the difference. For example, a teacher will collect words like that of can, man, ran, ban, fan, pan and others so that the kids can understand how to spell ‘an’ and at the same time, they can also understand the different sounds made by ‘c’, ‘m’, ‘r’, ‘b’, ‘f’, ‘p’ and others (Ehri, D, W 1984).
Phonics has a lot of advantages as compared to that of any other language learning approaches and hence, it is used widely. Phonics approach allows the child to understand and pronounce words accurately. With the help of this approach, the teacher need not teach the student to spell each word individually as they will learn the art of pronouncing all the possible words in English. Phonics not only deals with words, it allows children to spell the complete word rather than just reading the bits and pieces of it. Phonics approach also helps the children to write new words. If a teacher is dictating notes then the children, who have learnt English by way of a phonics approach, will write the proper spelling as they can concentrate on the pronunciation and write it accordingly (Wheldatl 2006).
It cannot be said that phonics approach is perfect as it also has certain disadvantages. Many researchers have said that this isn’t a perfect method to learn English. There are various alphabets or a group of alphabets that needs to be spelled in a similar way but if a child uses a phonics approach for learning then he will not be able to understand the difference. For example, in English “F” and “Ph” is spelled in a similar manner. Pronunciation of long and difficult words also becomes a difficult task by way of phonics approach. If a person is delivering a speech and if all of a sudden, he comes across a long word then pronouncing it will be a difficult task and hence, the speaker will be disturbed for at least a fraction of seconds (Rief, S, J 2010).
The whole language approach is defined as an approach which allows the learner to read, write and understand the language. Many teachers who are passionate about departing knowledge to students prefer this approach rather than that of anything else. This approach allows the learner to read and write simultaneously thus, the writer need not follow any instructions blindly without understanding. This method simply believes that the learner needs to understand the language that they speak and hence, this approach ignores errors like that of spelling and grammar because the followers of this approach believe technical correctness is not the only thing that completes the language (Maley 2008).
There are various advantages of whole language approach and hence, many schools are adopting this method. Whole language allows children to read and write at the same time. If a kid is trained by way of whole language approach then they don’t need to pronounce the word in the mind and then read it aloud. The whole language approach improves the understanding of the learner by way of allowing the learner to read and write about things that they know thus, allowing them to improve their language. If a kid is asked to write an essay about mango tree then there are possibilities that he might not be aware about it but if he is asked to write about his family then he will be aware about it. This allows the writer to express the thoughts, by way of using a variety of words, that they have in their mind rather than that by using the words that they know to complete the sentence (Donnelly 2010).
There are certain disadvantages as well to whole language approach and hence, many parents aren’t comfortable with this approach. With this method, a kid never understands what pronunciation is. They are just asked to memorize the word, till the time, they can find this word in between the pool of other words. This approach assumes that every kid can learn the language by way of seeing it but this approach forgets that every kid cannot be a visual learner. If a kid is having Dyslexia then they don’t get an idea regarding what they see and hence, learning by way of whole language approach becomes a very difficult task for them. Whole language approach ignores technical correctness like that of spelling and grammar and this can be a constraint to their growth in the future (Vear, E 2007).
There is a lot of debate going on between teachers, parents and experts regarding the language learning approach, phonics or whole language, being used in classrooms. Many parents support phonics approach as they believe that this approach will allow their kids to spell English appropriately and at the same time, many parents support whole language as they allow the kids to understand the things that they read and write. As a solution to this problem, many schools have started using phonics and whole language approach together. The usage of both the approaches allows the teachers to provide the benefits of both the approaches to the children (Swan 2010).
It can be said that learning English will tend to remain incomplete without phonics or whole language approach. Both the approaches have its own advantages and disadvantages. If a kid is completely trained as per the phonics language approach then they will more conscious of the sound and at the same time, if they are asked to learn a language with a whole language approach then they will be good with English but not grammar. All the kids are different and hence, the teacher will have to opt for a method that will be suitable for a particular kid. This is called as evidence methods so the teacher must evaluate each student before they start with teaching them (Smith).
There is no doubt that many parents want their kids to learn English by way of phonics approach. Parents should understand that there is learning beyond phonics as well. Young kids are visual in nature and hence, they remember things that they see. Teachers should show new words to them so that they can everyday add new words to their dictionary rather than just memorizing the words. Visual studying is different for kids because kids won’t remember a dog as a dog, they remember dog for the long tail and big eyes that it has. Teachers should identify such unique cues while training kids. Many teachers and parents think that such casual way of learning things isn’t appropriate but they need to understand that by this way, kids will be motivated to learn more (Hempenstall 2004).
The education system of Australia was changed in the year 2010. This was the time when language learning approach was introduced for the first time. Initially, Phonics was introduced and parents were very happy because they thought that this will allow their kids to read and write grammatical present English. It was noticed that the professors were using the whole language approach as well as disappointing the parents (Donnelly 2011). Every kid is not same so one need to understand that an approach that is suitable to one kid may not necessarily suit the other kid as well. Parents should, first and foremost, understand each approach and its advantages and disadvantages so that they can decide on the approach that their kid should use to learn English language.
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