Education in the United States has forever been in the limelight for varying reasons. The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (No Child Left Behind), which was made a federal law by the then President, George W. Bush, in 2002; Children with Learning Disabilities; Technology-Assisted Learning, English for Foreign Learners; and Role of Parents in Education, to name a few, has been making headlines in the education sector for a number of years. The number of children leaving school education is growing alarmingly because of their inability to learn, or for personal reasons. It is for this reason that I have taken a special interest in this field, and find technological devices to be extremely effective in assisting children with learning.
With the number of immigrants growing in the United States, teaching English as an international language has a lot of challenges. With immigrants arriving in the United States in thousands, the number of non-English speaking students admitted to public schools in the U.S will increase considerably in the coming years, because of which, teachers in schools will be under severe pressure to perform. President Obama’s initiative to encourage children to go to school has met with mixed response. Immigrants coming from different parts of the world bring diverse cultural, social and political affiliations, and though the political affiliation can be ruled out in teaching such young immigrants speak, write and read in English, considerable amount of time, money and effort is lost in teaching these children. My interest in the subject is further instigated by the fact that there are ways in which English Language Learners (ELL) students can be effectively taught. A large number of immigrants settling down in the U.S find the education in English difficult to apprehend, and therefore, shy away from school and end up getting involved in unethical and unlawful activities. This not only shatters the dreams of their parents, but puts additional burden on the law and judiciary to mold them, which is a serious issue. The anti-social activities of Mexican, Cuban, and other nationals is nothing new, and children become the prime targets of drug mafias who use them to sell drugs in schools. I believe education should be more enjoyable for students to remain focused and desist from getting distracted by anti-social elements.
In the United States, English is the medium of instruction in schools and colleges and invariably those who come here, find it hard to understand. A lot of researchers have discovered the benefits of using technology to teach English Language Learners (ELLLs). Some of the methods researched include the use of computers, involving parents in learning skills, and the use of mother tongue to make students understand English language, to name a few. In order to arrive at a consensus, and prove why technology-based teaching is the requirement today, I will source for the latest government statistics in this field. However, there is a strong belief that a large number of students, whose mother-tongue is other than English, and admitted in schools since the turn of the century could be very high. If this is the case, there are not sufficient teachers available who are qualified enough to teach English to English Language Learners. Therefore, given the physical improbability and ineffectiveness due to scarcity of resources, it is apt for schools to move from direct student-teacher learning to technology-based learning. The benefits are immense.
Multimedia is admired by one and all, and when multimedia is used in learning, it has a different effect on students and their learning. Acording to Huang et al (2011), “if multimedia technology is combined with appropriate instructional designs, it can create a healthy environment that instigates effective language learning.” As much as children love playing with gaming consoles, they will immediately be attracted to the graphic and colourful multimedia presentations. Whether it’s to teach students the meaning of a word, or to teach them grammar, the graphic representations will leave a strong impression on these English Language Learners. Similarly, for reading comprehension, multimedia-based graphic novels using animated stories that are visually appealing to the eyes, can be developed to make listening, reading, and writing effective. Multimedia technology can add voice, animated images, music, words and databases that are easy to manage, and students can run, and rerun the program as many times as required to learn. It would also be a great idea to source and research English learning methods in non-English speaking countries, as this could help solve some of the more complicated views that certain teachers could ask. While technology will definitely enhance learning patterns and behavior, the biggest challenge it will face is its acceptability. Would schools be ready to shift from the traditional teaching and learning methods to a more, self-learning style of learning with minimal supervision, and would teachers, who may feel threatened by the introduction of technology-based learning systems, be intimidated and challenge its implementation? These are serious issues, and unless these issues can be addressed in a favorable manner, it would be hard to change the status quo.
Research Sources and Strategies
The sources used for the research include books, professional journal articles, and reports that address the issues affecting English Language learning and use of technology to counter these. Journals such as the Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences, Academic Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies, Journal of Educational and Social Research, which will give details on surveys, data, and valid inputs on research in the field of education; magazine articles such as those of Ajayi, L, (2012), Video Reading and Multimodality: A Study of ESL/Literacy Pupils’ Interpretation of Cinderella from Their Socio-historical Perspective that looks at English learning in non-English speaking countries, and Huang, X, Dedegikas, C, and Walls, J, (2011), Using multimedia technology to teach Modern Greek language online in China: Development, implementation, and evaluation, that takes a look at the positive developments taking place in the learning of a foreign language using multimedia. Similarly, I also plan to study effect of a web-enhanced classroom on students learning a foreign language. I believe that web-enhanced learning offers students more interactive sessions that would be interesting, enjoyable and useful for students to learn with fun. When armed with these, I am sure to be able to support my thesis statement that different technology devices can positively impact the learning of today’s children.
Ajayi, L, (2012), Video Reading and Multimodality: A Study of ESL/Literacy Pupils' Interpretation of Cinderella from Their Socio-historical Perspective, The Urban Review, 44(1), 60-89
Chen, C, Kyle, D, W, and McIntyre, E, (2008), Helping Teachers Work Effectively with English Language Learners and Their Families, The School Community Journal, 2008, Vol. 18, No. 1, p.8-11
Huang, X, Dedegikas, C, and Walls, J, (2011), Using multimedia technology to teach Modern Greek language online in China: Development, implementation, and evaluation, European Journal of Open, Distance and E Learning, (1)
Tsantis, Linda A, (1991), New Horizons for Learning, Perspectives on Educational Change: Technology as a Catalyst, Accessed on December 8, 2009, from http://www.newhorizons.org/future/Creating_the_Future/crfut_tsantis.html