Pragmatics of using IT in English Language Teaching
Teacher of the English language
Tomsk State University
Adress: 36, Lenina prosp., 634050, Tomsk, Russia
Fax: (3822) 65-76-39
Recent situation in information society gives a good opportunity to improve and modernize teaching process. There are new computer classes with Internet access, that make possible using multimedia technologies in English language teaching.
It is known, how difficult for a teacher to make on English lessons the atmosphere familiar for English native speaker. To explain students as ethnic and social peculiarities of stereotype national behavior as expectations members of communicative process in certain situation it requires knowing many cultural, social and linguistic realities of communication.
Ordinary textbook can not satisfy various and multitarget objectives of English language teacher. Modern technologies offer new way of solving this problem.
Video materials are one of the main information sources. They provide vision on everyday life, show social conditions surrounding and forming an individual as a member of society.
Films, fiction, songs, folklore and customs of celebrating culture events create the material for explanation of national mentality, social and culture peculiarities of English native speakers.
The danger of making culture mistakes in a foreign country is wide known. The native speakers treat tolerant to a person making language mistakes. They estimate negative and can not forgive culture mistakes broken “the only right and possible way” of communication.
That’s why the teacher must draw attention of the students not only to vocabulary, but also to traditional behavior skills in communication. Among them are nonverbal signs, distance between speakers that limits and forms communication space. The distance varies from country to country. In Russia short communication space and short distance between speakers is usual. As for English native speaker, he or she estimates an attempt of Russian speaker to short distance in communication as aggressive one.
Etiquette, politeness norms, table manners and even clothes style become stumbling block in dialog of cultures.
To prevent serious misunderstandings an English language teacher needs to present for students new culture, stereotype paradigm of behavior.
He or she can start a lesson from demonstrating some visual segments of of famous films (e.g. «The Heart of the Dog» (based on Bulgakov''s famous novel), «Notting Hill», «My best friend’s wedding» etc.). It helps compare distinguishing features of the same situation (e.g. table manners) in different cultures.
With help of programs Adobe Premier, DVDx some scenes and fragments of films with audio texts and screen shorts are presented on the lesson. Thus one can demonstrate a number of contrastive situations, that show specific behavior stereotypes based on national and culture traditions.
Demonstrating specific nature of familiar, ordinary situations in different cultures is the first step in understanding, realizing global problems of cross-culture communication and misunderstanding.
The next step in lesson organization is presentation series of texts with audio supplements explaining historical, culture-specific reasons formed define type of behavior for members of society, peculiarities of their national mentality (e.g. historical reasons of American smile and motto “keep smiling” and so on).
Understanding differences in cultures of English speaking countries, understanding specific nature of native country leads to broadening student’s knowledge and makes possible their tolerant view on other nations.
This way helps the students enter in global international community with great variety of behavior stereotypes.
Internet-lessons developed in HTML provide efficient way to present educational materials. For Internet-lessons applying of interactive maps, graphics, animation, audio and video materials is characteristic. The structure of Internet-lessons, their supplements help present educational material more effective way and train student’s skills in reading and listening.
Multimedia technologies in Internet-lessons make possible the use of different forms of information presentation, namely, texts, graphics, “teacher’s voice”, links, interactive maps, audio texts, video recordings, pictures of geographic objects made by web-camera in real-time.
Test of student’s knowledge after completing series of topic-related lectures includes some steps.
Except essay and participation in forum devoted main problems of cross-culture communication the students are supposed to participate in chat-seminar. The main role of chat-seminar is to train student’s writing skills in spontaneous situation. The teacher is a moderator of chat, he or she asks provocative questions, offers unexpected situations for discussion, manages conversation. It is quite important to use play factor in chat-seminar.
Finally the students make and mini-projects, developed with help Power Point program.
The search and the use of information resources for Internet-lessons is only the matter of professional competence of a teacher. Except classic information resources (I mean books, films, newspapers journals and magazines) there are also Internet resources. The Internet resources offer good opportunity for an access to educational sites in English language, chat-forums and seminars with English native speakers. All the resources mentioned above show good samples of modern slang, expressions with highly expressive estimation, real colloquial English.
It is worth to mention, that any language presents original code of national and cultural information, national view. This information includes background knowledge that are familiar and thus not always realized by speakers in communication.
Defense of student’s national dignity is one of the main criterion for selection Internet resources and the main point of English language teaching policy.
There are well-known facts from teaching experience when the use of famous original textbooks from abroad leads to conflicts of cultures. So, for example, a text about vodka and cognac as necessary attributes of relaxation in Russia provoked extremely negative reaction from the students. As result the students refused to be taught by “Headway” textbooks.
The stumbling stone is also tendency of original English texts and exercises to concentrate on individualism of a student telling about all his or her problems and shortcomings.
This openness contradicts Russian culture traditions and is negative estimated by student audience. The most appropriate way to solve this problem is to present “problem texts” with the third person narrator.
In attempt to inform students about specific features of English speaking countries the teachers often avoid contrastive and contemporary approach that shows specific features of native culture. The reason of it is a small number of teaching materials telling in good English about Russia and Russian traditions. I know from my experience that the texts about Russia developed in cooperation with colleagues from UK, USA usually increase student’s interest to English classes. Moreover, the texts about Russia form student’s ability to dialog of cultures.