Using QQ to Teach Kids English
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. ) (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. DISCUSSION 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. At New Oriental School, the students’ age range differs from 5 to 14. I asked the responsible teacher to choose the older students who can use chat skillfully and meaningfully.
At the time of thinking about the research design, I was reading a research article by David Coniam and Richard Wong, “Internet Relay Chat as a tool in the autonomous development of ESL learners’ English language ability: an exploratory study”, and noticed that authors have used a carefully screened number of students in their pilot study. So I followed their lead in case of the student selection and asked the school to select students based on the below criteria: 1. Student should know how to use English typing properly 2. Student should have used QQ for at least one year . Students should possess and have used computer for at least two years 4. Students’ age range should be between 10-14 After about one month, the responsible teacher contacted me and informed that because the parents are so strict and do not let their children use computers so often and also because they are assigned to do homework at home, she could arrange with 5 students only to participate in my study. However, to justify the parents, the responsible teacher had been mentioned that the online class is one of the requirements assigned by school.
I carried out my research using QQ on Jan 15, 2013. The teacher had arranged 3 online sessions each lasting 1:30 hours; totally four and half hours. The teaching content was “pattern practice” which was part of the students’ book, Junior New Concept English. Based on what the teacher had been told me before designing my teaching plan, “pattern practice” part is one of the most difficult parts both for teaching and learning. In this part students should use the given patterns to compose their own sentences.
As I had been told, because of time shortage and students’ lack of concentration, occasionally the tasks’ aims can not be appropriately fulfilled in the class; irrespective of how hard the teacher tries in the class. Nature of such a task requires students’ full consciousness and attention. My assumption was that, probably if the students are being situated in front of the computer individually, by the given instruction, their learnability might be enhanced. The teaching method that I employed in this study was task-based language teaching.
Task-based approaches to network-centered learning are seen as being particularly suited to fostering learner autonomy and collaborative effort. Soh and Soon (1991) found that in a cross-cultural project based in Canada and Singapore, learners’ writing skills were enhanced through exchange with learners from a different cultural background. Such approaches are also viewed as leading to a renegotiation of the teacher’s role in the electronic classroom (Bump, 1990) (Referenced by Mark Peterson, Language Teaching and Networking).
In a networked classroom, learners not only read and write; they are constantly reacting to writing, thus fostering the sense of personal engagement and discovery is essential to successful language learning (Mark Peterson, Language Teaching and Networking). By asking students to do the online discussion I had the following motives: 1. To assess the students’ writing ability and do an occasional corrections, if possible 2. To create an environment in which students could freely interact with each other.
It might be argued that students may share incorrect language input to one another, thereby reinforcing the language errors. Research findings suggest, however, that students may learn equally well from their peers as from their teachers (Referenced by David Coniam and Richard Wongs, see, e. g. , Long and Porter, 1985; Lightbrown and Spada, 1999). 3. To create an authentic situation for the students to use their knowledge of English language practically and to build-up their confidence Organization and Setting of the Online Sessions
To begin the online discussion, I organized the sessions by assistance of the responsible teacher. The students were asked by their teacher to add my QQ number in their list. I had already informed them a few days earlier about the time of our sessions and the content of discussion. Meanwhile they already knew about the time, they could primarily arrange for their own schedule. Also I had asked them to avoid using Chinese language while they are discussing in the public chat room. I told them that they are free to negotiate with each other in Chinese out of the public chat room and privately.
I gave them the “Google translate” online link, so that in case, they can use it to translate Chinese to English. They have been asked to use “yahoo image search” whenever they faced with difficulty to express their ideas in English. They could easily find the correct image and send it to others. As far as their age and language level, they were not able to use English easily in every occasion, so the best option was to show their feelings and ideas through images. We started the first session at 7:00 o’clock in the evening.
Lesson one was about practicing how to tell time in English and in different ways. Here are a number of questions and answers we had: What time is it? 8:45 Answers: quarter to 9 eight forty five What time is it? 2:30 Answers: two thirty half past two What time is it? 7:22 Answers: seven twenty two twenty two past seven I used two methods to practice with them. 1. Giving them the time (not in number but in letters) and asking to search Google for the relevant picture or to draw a picture in QQ and send 2.
Sending pictures to the, and asking to tell me the time (in letters) After assigning any single task, I have waited for a while to receive response. By receiving the first correct answer, I have asked the rest of them to decide if the answer is right or wrong; then I have confirmed the answer to them while displaying a happy image expressing my positive feeling for their efforts. Sometimes they shifted to Chinese language to tell others about their feelings; I tried not to interrupt them and not to ruin the magic moment which had been created within the discussion.
Additionally, they were asked to create full sentences based on the given pattern. 10:30 “Is it half past 2. No it isn’t. It’s half past 10” Is it 3:45? Yes, it is. It is quarter to four. Is it half past nine? No it isn’t. It’s 8:30. In the second session, we practiced how to tell the locations in English, “under”, “on” and “in”. Again I used images to practice. I gave them a single instruction. “I will show you a picture; you should tell me where the objects are”. A number of our online practice: Where is the rabbit? Students’ answer: in box Where is the boy?
Students’ answer: under tree What do you see? Students’ answer: cat on table I asked them to create a sentence based on the given model. Where is the boy? The boy is under the tree. So they just needed to replace the subject and adverb with the new ones. In the third session we discussed about the comparative adjectives “longer”, “shorter”, “bigger”, “smaller”, “thicker” and “thinner” First I have shown them the pictures and then asked them to follow the given pattern to compose a correct sentence. Where is the thicker pencil? It is on the desk Is the thicker pencil under the desk?
No it isn’t. The thinner pencil is on the desk. CONCLUSION In this paper we have examined kids’ use of online chatting through QQ and accordingly the effect of using this technology on their language learning and communicative skills. As mentioned by Gill Valentine and Sarah L. Holloway in “A window on the wider world? Rural children’s use of information and communication technologies”, the Janelle’s (1973) concept of extensibility, which refers to the ability of people to overcome the barriers of physical space through technology is totally confirm the use of technology.
In this paper we could overcome three barriers. First helping students practice their language learning without leaving home (time barrier). Second, we did not need to occupy a class (place barrier). Third, students’ lack of concentration improved as the result of being detached from the class environment. Findings of the paper come from two interviews from the teacher before and after the research. Based on the interviews, the teacher found improvements in case of students’ active participation in the class and besides, the students’ accuracy have been raised.
It can be concluded from the results of this study that online chatting has positive effects on the learning process. Using such technologies outside the classroom results in better motivation and facilitates the learning process of children and their cognitive achievement. The learning process becomes much more enjoyable and by engaging children in such online classrooms, the stresses and lack of concentration involved in the learning process are drastically reduced.