Employing multimedia in foreign language teaching

Along with rapid development of technology, the 21st century also brought tendencies to apply those technological inventions on every possible area of sciences, arts and humanities. The most fruitful of such attempts is applying multimedia to the process of learning. In today's schools and universities, technology is an essential part of the educational process. This article will list some of the most effective ways to employ multimedia in teaching a foreign language.

To begin with, it's important to define multimedia to be aware of what distinguishes it from older teaching methods. Older foreign language teaching tools include text, audio, posters, images, while multimedia is defined as content which uses a combination of two or more of those things. Basically, when it comes to language teaching and learning, it refers to Powerpoint presentations, interactive games, animations etc.

Powerpoint presentations
Powerpoint Presentation in Class

Microsoft Powerpoint was mainly used for business conferences and presentations, but nowadays it also plays a huge role in the classroom. It's one of the ideal teaching tools because it contains text, text animation, images or videos and allows students to perceive the content of the lesson visually. For example, a Powerpoint presentation can be a good choice when teaching vocabulary. You can place unknown words next to images that depict them. That way, student have a direct visual stimulus helping them to link the image to the word. However, it's important not to overdo these kinds of activities. First of all, the concept of teaching a lesson via PP presentation can be teacher-centered and encourage little or no student activity. Also, when it comes to language learning, it's important for the presentation to be image-heavy rather than cluttered with text. Too much text can cause students of a foreign language to lose concentration and interest in the presentation.

Movie in Class

Edutainment is a term that combines education and entertainment. That can refer to watching movies, listening to music or reading books in a foreign language. Watching a movie in class doesn't have to be a bad idea. You can play a foreign movie with subtitles of the native language of the students, or vice versa. Playing songs in the foreign language that you're teaching can also be useful when taking short breaks. For example, if you notice the students are unfocused, take a 5 minute break and use it to relax while playing music. You can even have a karaoke class! Most songs have their karaoke version on Youtube.

Language learning games and quizzes

The Internet contains a bunch of interactive activites designed to help you to learn a language. You can play these kinds of games with students in class, but make sure the games are not below their language level. Most students love these kinds of classes and participate actively, but more importantly, they learn plenty on the way.

In conclusion, it's important to state not to exaggerate with using multimedia in the classroom. Although it has many up sides, many experts today claim that today's classrooms are becoming «showrooms of computer functions». Remember — 'old-school' methods of teaching are not to be neglected, and there are many reasons why some of them have been used for such a long time.


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