(i)Terms of Reference
In writing this report the following terms of reference were given much attention:
1. Identify the advantages of using multimedia tools as well as problems encountered by students when using multimedia tools as learning aids.
2. Enlist the evidence collected on the existence of these problems.
3. Make recommendations on possible ways of solving the problems identified regarding both reading and teaching English as a second language by students in Hong Kong.
4. Identify some of the issue[s] emerging from the use of multimedia tools in reading and learning English by students as a second language.
(ii)Methods of Gathering the Information
The investigations were done in a classroom where learning of English as a second language was carried out. The following were the methods that were used to gather the much needed information, (Weiser, 2010).
1. Administration of questionnaires.
The questionnaires were administered to both the students and their instructors. The purpose was to get personalized information from the two groups of people as they are able to speak their mind well through writing because they are not under any pressure or duress.
2. Actual field study and note taking
Data collected from field study majorly involved analyzing the students’ attitude toward the use of various multimedia tools such as interactive whiteboards,I pad tablets, computers and projectors. This enabled the collection of relevant data since it clearly shown how the children were learning especially through the interactive whiteboards and clearly spelt out the importance of using such items to enhance exposure to these students.
In-depth interviews were done to both teachers and the students. Interrogating them made it possible to get their own views on some of the challenges they were facing in the course of their learning, what they think should be done to make learning English more efficient and their own expectations on the use of multimedia tools when learning English, as well as when their instructors are teaching them using these learning aids. Bearing in mind that the classes involved were relatively small interviewing individual students was easy, feasible and productive.
As learning took place, observations were made as to the way in which these tools were utilized by both students and teachers. This was done through attending classes and looking at how the students utilized multimedia tools in reading and also attempting to use these tools in their various academic spheres.
Context of Reading
Reading is normally done by way of using various multimedia tools that are within the reach of the students. For instance, some students found it suitable to use their personal computers in their class works whereas others were for the idea of using tools like projectors to undertake their studies. This is mainly due to the existence of modern technological devices. Notes are projected to students who copy them in their books for those who don’t have personal computers. This also incorporated the use of internet that made it possible for the pupils to get more insight into their reading through the use of various web search engines such as “Google” and made learning to be more interesting.
Notes are also posted to their emails so that they can undertake revision in their own free time also, when in classes, there is no need at times to project notes since very many students have their own personal computers that they use. However, the students have to use books so that they are able to shape the English letters properly. Learning in that case involves showing them how their native words are translated or mean in English language. It also involves oral lessons where students teach themselves how to pronounce words properly in English. More often than not students do settle in groups where they discuss various things and involve themselves in recitations, (Scott, 2010).
The following tabulated information was obtained from the students who responded to various multimedia tools used in teaching reading from a group of forty students in a class and their views on whether the use of these tools in reading and learning English was effective and favorable to them. The information is summarized in a table below and the results presented in a pie chart.
This method of reading and learning using multimedia tools was found to have numerous advantages especially to the learners since it gave the exposure in various aspects of learning but also tended to have some shortcomings owing to the technicalities involved in learning a language that is foreign. Most of these problems were experienced and either affected the learners or the instructors. The following were some problems inherent to the use of multimedia method of teaching English as a second language:
Positive contributions by multimedia tools to the students
1.They help in the promotion of accurate and efficient learning since most of these gadgets used are so sophisticated in a manner that enable the users access information in a much faster way than opposed to the ordinary use of books in studying.
2. They sharpen the thinking capacity of students by enabling them to have much interest in knowing all about what multimedia tools such as computer. This enables the students to have a clear expression and picture to what multimedia tools are all about and they operate to get objectives being achieved.
3. Multimedia tools act as foundation to the intellectual growth of students in any context. This is so because they enable the students learn more than what is contained in their books. Through this, they are usually in position to have sufficient information that could be applied in making sound decisions in their academic lives.
4. Students, through the use of multimedia tools, they are usually in a position to present accurate work especially in the course of their studies as opposed to when they use manual techniques that are prone to numerous mistakes and limitations.
They however have some drawbacks that may include the following:
1. It promotes passivity among the learners.
This method promotes one-directional style of learning. The students become somehow lazy and they tend to wait for materials from the instructor hence becoming passive learners. This is very unfortunate particularly for students in primary schools since, learning entails a lot of new knowledge being gathered and voracious reading thus any mode of learning that seeks to inculcate any form of intellectual laziness would cause a lot of harm to the students and raise a lot of queries on the place of education in Hong Kong bearing in mind that as a developed economy, a lot of emphasis has to be given particularly to education owing to its active role in promoting research, development and presentations where most learners prefer to use advanced technological tools to do their studies. This leads to acute simplification of work since more elaborate points could be put in a summery form and hence many students are tempted to be very shallow in their learning which is very tricky for their holistic learning. In learning a new language like English one cannot afford to simplify things because all the information is needed since the students are new to that language thus much details are necessary, something that multimedia tools does not address, (Weiss, 2010).
2. Effects on learner’s delivery.
More often than not, most students rely on the multimedia tools as a substitute for their prior-to-class preparations. This should not be the case however, a student must always prepare adequately for the class and use these multimedia tools only as a learning aid but when used to evade adequate research and preparations before class the delivery will not be effective and the learners will at a loss. Tutors in foreign language tend to store their work in their personal computers and project it to students thus the student has hard times trying to follow the teacher’s instructions thus curtailing on their level of comprehension and mastery of the English language as second to their own native language.
3. It also results to overstimulation of the learners.
Using videos projectors and computers may occasion loss of vital information and contents from a given piece of work.
4. When using devices such as personal computers.
The students’ attention is normally diverted since they more often than not engrossed in social Medias such as Facebook and tweeter. This makes the student not to concentrate on their classwork more as is expected. It also lessens the students participation in the class and this grossly hampers learning as well as concentration by the learner.
5. This method of teaching is normally very costly.
This is because some of these multimedia tools are expensive to both buy and install. When computers are involved for instance, it means that the students studying the foreign language have to acquire a personal computer. To those who cannot afford however, it becomes unnecessary burden to them. It’s also expensive for the primary school to install these facilities to facilitate learning.
In the light of the above findings, the following are some of the suggested ways and means of enhancing the use of multimedia tools in primary schools and also ways of solving and/or mitigating the above stipulated problems:
- The school should be equipped with modern facilities such as computers so as to enable each and every student have access to the computers and at least learn something new in order to gain some new foresight in their day to day studies. .
- Students should be encouraged most of the time to embrace changes in technology so as to be abreast with the ever changing dynamic world where everything nowadays operates in wireless formats.
Solution to the problems identified could be enumerated as follows:
1. As noted earlier on the use of multimedia tools entrenches passivity among the students by making learning teaching a one direction affair. The use of tools like videos, projectors and computers should be done in such a manner that it cultivates active learning amongst the students so that their mastery of the English language is improved greatly. This could be done by students assigning themselves more work to go and research on and also by use of effective presentations by the students in the classroom through use of such facilities as power point as this will encourage student participation as well as making teaching bi-directional rather than one-directional teaching. Active learning cannot be underestimated when it comes studying by the students since it characterizes quality education and distinguishes it from other forms of learning. When studying English as a second language, emphasis must be given to details so that everything about it is well understood thus passivity cannot be productive.
2. To overcome the problem of oversimplification the learners have to be always up in arm and ready to study at all times. They have to prepare early in advance so that when they come with simplified versions of the notes they can have all the necessary details concerning the subject matter of each lesson. For instance, the instructor could provide some notes on work that has already been translated so that when he or she comes to class it is easier for the students to comprehend the teachings. Use of tools such as projectors and videos is more preferable to engineering courses as opposed to arts disciplines such as English. The instructor should always ensure that they give more comprehensive notes that suits the entire students’ needs for proper lower level education in the country.
3. The multimedia tools are very vital studying and learning aids in the modern world of science and technology. They are particularly meant to engage the students, ease the learning as well as facilitate the delivery by the learners. They do offer support to studying especially where demonstrations are necessary. However most learners have become so dependent on them and they rarely prepare well for class as they are aware that they have notes in their laptops and projecting machines. This greatly affects learning since for effective teaching to take place, a student has to be thoroughly prepared for the class and or lesson. This has become a serious problem in academic circles since it is greatly reducing the net worth of the education in most learning institutions in the world today to overcome this problem however, measures has to be taken to ensure that there is effective delivery by lecturers through frequent evaluation of teachers by the students. This is a deliberate effort by the administration to improve learning standards in institutions. To enhance better and effective learning of languages, learners have to be well prepared in advance and lay out proper lesson objectives so that students stands to benefit from organized and well prepared teaching and instructions. Much personalized attention has to be accorded to foreign language learners because it’s not easy to understand and fluently learn a second language as fluent as the first language when much effort is not cultivated, (Mechling, 2007).
4. The learning institutions should block social websites such as Facebook and tweeter in their learning places and notably the classes. This is to prevent the students from engaging in socializing activities at the time when they should be conducting their studies in their respective classrooms especially during the classroom periods. If this is implemented it will go a long way in ensuring improved students’ performance. However this should be tactfully carried out to prevent student’s unrest in the institutions of learning.
5. The government should step in and provide modern equipment such as laptops and iPod’s to facilitate access of these facilities to students especially those from poor households. Such gadgets should be provided to schools for them to issue on the basis of student needs. This is because though these tools have their own associated problems they are beneficial when used in the appropriate manner and style.
6. In order to curb over stimulation of students owing to the use of the multimedia tools care should be taken to ensure that important details in a foreign language class are not lost.it also ensures that students do not underestimate the use of these gadgets. Many students usually take it that it’s very easy to find most of the notes and contents of the teachers work in the internet. For the purpose of foreign language they have to be keen on their class work to ensure proper knowledge of the foreign languages, (Anderson, 2011).
Emerging Issues in the Learning of English as a Second Language
There has been a lot of emphasis on learning foreign languages in china especially the English language. This is largely contributed by the need of many Chinese nationals to move to different parts of the world in search of formal employment as well as offshore investment.as everyone is well aware china has taken parts in development projects and investments in many countries of the world especially the developing countries. This makes many Chinese nationals to learn English since many nations are Anglophone speaking. This has led to a lot emerging issues in learning of English as a second language in Hong Kong. These emerging trends have been made possible because of improved technology especially in the telecommunications sector. Some of these trends include;
I Virtual and Online Learning
Under this method a student is given learning materials online, he or she undertakes the study and then he or she is tested online. This has become very prevalent because the demand for the foreign languages outstrips the supply of the instructors forcing the concerned people to find ways of availing these services online owing to the increased penetration of the information technology equipment. The students undertake oral tests and then they do written exams to test on their understanding of the foreign language in question and in this case English.
ii. Setting Up Of Foreign Languages Department In Universities
Owing to the increased number of students wishing to do English, as a foreign language, there has been introduction of foreign languages department to take care of this emerging need in the country. These departments afford to students materials for learning as well as for revision to those students taking foreign languages. This solves the problem of access cost and availability of English as foreign language in hongkong.it also ensures that there is properly equipped manpower in these institutions for proper and effective teaching, (McCrea, 2010).
iii. Blogs and Social Networking
Social networking has grown in popularity and use in the recent past. There has been increased number of people subscribing to them every day. Tense, participants in the foreign languages teaching and learning have taken full advantage of the social networking sites such as tweeter and Facebook as medium for learning foreign languages. Blogs are also on increased use by many people in Hong Kong. Through them the number of people accessing and learning foreign languages especially English has grown exponentially today.
iv. Interactive Whiteboards
These are large screens that are connected to a computer and a projector whereby the computer desktop are projected to the surface of the board via the projector whereby its users use pen or a finger to control it. This is on high usage today by many people since it’s so easy to operate.in its use in foreign languages learning the contents of the languages are displayed on the screen surface and the learner can be able to learn properly by comparing word forward between native and foreign language, (Ritchel, 2010).
Lessons from the Research
From the research the major lesson learnt is that
1. Though the multimedia tools such as projectors and personal computers have their fair share of problems when it comes to learning of the foreign languages it is very important that these problems are mitigated because in this era of technology its very unlikely that learning can take place without them being in place as they support reading, research and teaching.
2. Also, these tools are not very popular to majority of learners in Hong Kong today because of many challenges that they face.
In conclusion the multimedia tools have some inherent problems but at the same time they are very useful in academic world today. A proper way of integrating them in learning foreign languages with reduced effects on their short comings should be implemented in order to take learning of foreign languages to the next level.