Developing Support Materials For Mass Media Course In Elt
The research outlined in this paper explores the potential of the ELT classroom as a venue for developing students’ media literacy with the help of the support materials designed within the project of Dostoevsky Omsk State University. It is a part of a larger body research that investigates the idea of mass media studies incorporated into the regular ELT course of this University. The perspective is based on the idea of including media literacy development into the program. The modular structure of the course book designed within the project provides a model for creating support materials on the basis of authentic British and American mass media multi-media sources. Classroom observations and interviews conducted with instructors and students examine perceived pros and cons of the studying/teaching with the help of these support materials identify undisputed, sincere interest, delight, and acceptance. This provides evidence that multi-media used to constitute the core of the support materials designed as a course book, might provide invaluable help for teachers in the media-oriented classroom. What is more, most course instructors participating in the project valued the efficiency of the support materials not only in terms of media literacy, considering them to be a noteworthy factor in enhancing students’ language performance. Analysis and interpretation of multimedia texts via tasks from the course book allow students to update their mass media awareness and to access, analyse various kinds of mass media. The paper is accompanied by numerous tasks from the mass media included in the suggested book.
Keywords: Authentic multi-mediamedia-oriented classroom
1.1. The field of English language teaching has noticeably changed over the last decade as language teaching has undergone various changes. The challenge English teachers currently face is unprecedented: they are supposed to reduce the difference between long-established teaching, designed for promoting four students’ basic language skills (listening, reading, speaking, writing), and communicative teaching.
2.1. The work with mass media in the ELT classroom can hardly be considered an innovative technique. Nevertheless, it is worth pointing out that the idea of providing mass media courses with proper support materials is still something of a novelty and presents an urgent problem recognized by anyone who dares to design them properly and on the regular basis. Is there a model for developing a course book based on analysing and interpreting authentic mass media in the ELT classroom?
3.1. The research supports the
3.3. It should be noted that teaching media literacy is especially important in university classrooms because students, as media consumers, tend to be more influenced in subtle but far-reaching ways by the media they encounter than adults. Media literate students are supposed to have a better understanding of the information that they receive and are more likely to consider its quality and assumptions. This occurs partly because media consumers, who have limited time and attention, automatically process the bulk of the messages that they encounter rather than expanding the effort that would be required to evaluate them.
Purpose of the Study
The research is aimed at:
designing a model for creating support materials and course books for quality English curriculum in order to include media education into the basic ELT content;
assessing the effectiveness of the suggested model of course book for teaching media literacy, as used in both conventional classrooms and for students’ self-instruction (or a mixture of these two delivery models), empowering teachers with substantial help, giving them confidence to take up challenges of selecting media sources as well as designing tasks for the media literacy classroom.
In more detail, our research dealt with a number of questions:
Do teachers consider the suggested approach provides invaluable help in designing media-oriented ELT courses that provide them with required activities?
After completing a mass media course with the support materials designed within the project, do students display enhanced media literacy, developed analytical mind, awareness of how mass media form culture and nation and awareness of the practical bias, spin and misinformation in the media?
Do the support materials in any way affect the students’ language performance?
To be more specific, we devised a course book
materials should be connected with culture, values, issues and cases mostly with powerful visual support;
they should contain controversial, various topics and problems that reflect modern state of events in society as well as students’concerns and passions;
they should address language as well as media literacy areas and skills development;
the linguistic items of the study materials (certain grammar structures, language functions, and conversational forms) introduced in the classroom as well as their speech delivery (speech rate, clarity of speech, and accent) and density of language should be an important factor taken into account when choosing mass media for classroom discussion/analysis/interpretation;
they should be versatile, thought-provoking, and inspiring to students in order to provide students’ interest.
Before going further into the subject, we would like to illustrate the aforementioned approach with some examples of materials chosen for the course book ( Dvorghets & Tomkiv, 2017, p. 9, 29; 32, 56):
Mass Media. URL: http://study. com/academy/lesson/what-is-mass-media-definition-types-influence- examples.html.
Dangers of Tolerance. URL: https://youtu.be/_0SFZqoT9Os.
The Truth about Immigration. URL: What They Won’t Tell You! URL: https://youtu.be/QV7JILRugOg.
What is the Future of Language?URL: https://youtu. be/rUU8pLEk6nk. Will English Always Be the Global Language?URL: https://youtu.be/5Kvs8SxN8mc. Who’s fighting whom in Syria? Explained in 90 seconds. URL: https://youtu.be/z_ily8CjDXc.
Who is fighting and why? URL: https:// youtu.be/NKb9GVU8bHE.
Whenever possible, we took into account the fact that students have different cognitive styles. The tasks in the course were designed in a way such that students might feel that learning is purposeful and that their needs are being addressed. Moreover, many kinds of various activities are used to ensure that various students’ needs might be met.
The teaching strategies suggested within the project and used for the course book follow the classical standard of activities to perform before watching, while watching and after watching some video. The examples below are borrowed from the course – book designed within the research ( Dvorghets & Tomkiv, 2017).
Pre-viewing discussion is designed in the format of warm-up activities or lead-ins. The pre-viewing tasks may initiate discussion, or provide students with background information concerning the topic under discussion, if applicable. The students may be asked to keep this information in mind and then revisit their initial notes after covering all the tasks to see if their views about the issue changed. The tasks are typically introduced as information gap activities/brainstorming, then followed by information from the printed text and group discussion to prepare for viewing.
These are predictably headed by “Do you know….” questions concerning the appropriate topic, completing the word webs, vocabulary consultations, etc. The discussion questions introducing the topic
While-viewing mode keeps students on tasks based on several authentic multi-media tests covering certain topics borrowed from American or British multi-media ranging from global issues, challenges, and large-scale changes like Brexit to relationship or language problems. Multi-media texts borrowed from various sources within this mode undoubtedly change learning beyond current practice, contextualize the language, and add an authentic flavour to the learning as well as the teaching process. Among other factors, when selecting multi-media for while-viewing activities the authors of the paper consider introducing controversy as a crucial factor, since conflicting attitudes in the media may be valuable for further discussion. Irrespective of any section of the course book, the activities inevitably aim at the gist of the multi-media texts, as well as specify their facts and details of their context. Ideally, it is already within the while-viewing mode that students may contribute to the discussion of disputable issues. Let us illustrate the point by the example below:
Task 6. Watch the video
Effective after-viewing strategies suggest tasks designed to stimulate discussion. They should be done to help engage students in developing their language competence as well as critical thinking and media literacy. These activities help students make their own decisions and create their own points of view. Similarly, the boundless diversity of after-viewing activities requires students to consider issues concerning various contexts and sociolinguistic aspects of English that may influence its meaning.
The following is an illustration of the after-viewing activity for the topic
Task 8. Role play Mini-debate: advantages and disadvantages of staying in the EU: Brexiters vs Remainers. Public opinion was divided between the two camps – those in favor of leaving ... and those who wanted to remain.
The video for help:
4 Reasons to Vote Leave &. Remain in The UR EU ReferendumURL: https://youtu.be/bvnmAjev5oE.
David Cameron’s Speech on Brexit:
David Cameron resigns as UK votes to leave.URL: https://youtu.be/fXNV3Ad0qQ0.
The course – book
The course book is just one component in a set of support materials, another being a CD-ROM. It is shown that there should be a concern with copyright issued throughout the compilation of pertinent where video-recording of broadcast materials is concerned. However, the appreciation of the potential value of authentic video-recorded material is especially strong. Within the present research, we tried to overcome this problem by including links to the necessary media resources on the CD-ROM, so as to simplify the search for the resources for the students without having to type them out. The video recordings of the media resources are not included on the CD-ROM.
Among the topics covered in the course book
Let us cite an example illustrating the selection of media texts centred around the topic
The United Nation – Year in Review. URL: https://youtu.be/M0_kxsCFZOQ.
Euro news No Comment TV. URL: http://eurone.ws/yDXQ7c.
8 Breakthrough Technologies That Will Change The World in 2016.URL: https://youtu.be/ vyIBxbLimlc.
Highlights of Trump – Clinton US presidential debate. URL: https://youtu.be/Qq4rlVF3Ags.
Instructors of all groups participating in the survey were given the privilege of using the support materials – the course book
According to their opinion:
with carefully selected media resources from the course book, you save time not looking through authentic materials yourself; otherwise you have to review hours of media resources to find a few hours of useable material;
possessing thoroughly designed media-oriented and language-oriented activities, you are free from the obligation to develop such tasks yourself;
being in constant need of teaching with authentic resources that are supplied with pertinent tasks and provide a wide range of engaging classroom activities, you get the required teaching tool.
Hence, we got affirmative response to the first question of 4.2 of the present paper. Teachers reported that the suggested approach helped in designing media-oriented ELT course and provided them with required activities. Regarding the second question which concerns the students’ achievements in enhanced media literacy, improved language performance after completing the mass media course with the support materials designed within the research, the answer was affirmative as well.
The students were assessed as media watchers/interpreters participating in debates. In the initial and exit surveys, the main criteria used for evaluating students’ media literacy and language performance were as follows:
awareness of the media formats and types;
profound understanding of the basic issues;
identification of the problem(s);
ability to make reasonable conclusions;
enhanced English language performance;
presentation of strong problem solving skills.
Similarly, most course instructors participating in the research confessed they would prefer preparation for the course not to be so time-consuming, considering that they had to spend long hours updating their mass media awareness.
Unmistakeably, we have the answer to the third question of our research, concerning the improvement of students’ language performance with the help of the support materials. Benefits in terms of their speaking and listening skills are obvious, though the assessment strategies used for measuring students’ performance are beyond the present research boundaries.
The authors would like to express their gratitude for help in funding the present research within Russian Foundation for Basic Research (RFBR), research project № – 012 – 00507.
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VolumeEpSBS / Volume 86 - WUT 2020