It is generally accepted that information and communication technology (ICT) is an integral part of today’s world. Language education is a domain where open-access resources, online courses, virtual classrooms, and social networks based on information and communication technology (ICT) are being increasingly used to provide learners access to information, promote interaction, improve communicative skills and enhance digital literacy skills. However, within the rapid growth of technology, online resources and tools present both opportunities and challenges. Therefore, to obtain the maximum potential of ICT in language teaching, it is vital to be used in a pedagogically sound way that corresponds to the individual needs of the learners.
On the other hand, literature is considered to be a valuable source for language learning. Some of the great advantages literature offers are:
- enriching vocabulary and encouraging correct spelling
- expanding horizons
- building critical thinking
- a leap into the past
- acknowledgment and appreciation for other cultures and beliefs
- addressing humanity
The current article aims to highlight the importance of using ICT for improving communicative skills in English to high school students through literature as teaching material.
1. Considering the Role of ICT in Education
Easy access to information, increased learners’ motivation, improved communication, better assessment and follow-up students, access to training for teachers, nurtured creativity and self-expression, education accessibility for more learners and strengthened integrated learning are considered some of the most important reasons for using ICT within an academic environment. Easy access to information may encourage students to get involved in the learning process. Having access to other information outside the books gives students many different ways to learn a concept. Within a teaching sequence, ICT allows teachers to have diverse teaching and learning methods, for instance visual, audio multimedia, and varied ways of passing information increases a learner’s motivation. Another way to increase students’ motivation through ICT is interacting with other learners (pen pals) from different parts of the world. In other words, ICT encourages collaboration; it opens avenues for communication, thus leading to language development.
2. Why Anybooks App?
As technology progresses more and more textbooks are available online. EBooks have become increasingly popular and they are considered to be second nature to savvy readers. AnyBooks App is an eBook reader and catalogue where users can find hundreds of books to read and allows them to download books directly and read it from the app itself. Not only does AnyBooks have a large catalogue of materials, but also offers books in many different languages and various genres.
The interface of the app is also very intuitive and easy to navigate. The reading interface is customizable to make it easier for users to read (reducing and increasing the size of the book’s font, changing the brightness of the app to prevent eye strain and auto-night theme). (anybooks.en.softonic.com/android). As a logo, AnyBooks describes itself as “Anyone. Anywhere. Anytime. AnyBooks.‟ (www.anybooks.app/pt/dmca). AnyBooks was offered free of cost when it first came out (November 2019). It was supported by any of the operating systems, either Android or Apple’s iOS and is available in play store. One advantage of this application is that it offers the audio function to each book, which is a great opportunity for learners who are keen on improving their pronunciation, too.In other words, AnyBooks has the following features:
- The built-in Dictionary that allows you to look up words instantly while you are reading your eBooks. Simply tap and hold a word to view its definition, which is excellent for enriching your vocabulary;
- Sync Students’ eBooks to read anywhere – the Anybooks app lets you read the same book across devices and automatically syncs where you left off so you can start reading on one device and pick up where you left off on another device. The app syncs their further page read, bookmarks, notes and highlight;
- Customize the Reading – the Anybooks app lets you choose your preferred font size, screen brightness, night mode/eye care mode, bookmarks, background color to read their books;
- Create their own notebook with bookmarks, highlights, notes;
3. Classroom Application. Literature Corner
3.1. Task Description
The 9th and 10th grade students started using AnyBooks App (November 2019-February 2020) and read The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, John Boyne and the 11th grade read The Great Gatsby, Scott Fitzgerald. This literature activity was designed to accelerate the development of the speaking and was divided into 3 phases.
PHASE 1 PRE-READING ACTIVITY
✔ Discussions about the Holocaust (9th and 10th grades)
✔ Discussions about the American Dream, the meaning of ‘Roaring Twenties‟ or ‘Jazz Age’;(11th grade)
PHASE 2 – WHILE READING ACTIVITY
✔ All the students were challenged to read the book systematically & assessed though a variety of worksheets; Later on they have been selected to take part in the methodology activity “Literature Corner”;
PHASE 3 –POST READING
✔ Methodology Activity “Literature Corner”
The students chose to collaborate with their colleagues and concentrated on different issues from the novel, such as historical and social background, Summary, Fascinating Insights into Human Relationships and Theories, Archetypes, Talk Show, etc and then presented their work within a methodology activity coordinated by me. Within the same context the foreign languages teachers and other students were invited to watch their performance.
3.2 Student’s Feedback – Even though all the students provided their feedback, due the page limit, I will provide 2 answers/ each question.
Questionnaire -you took part in the activity called “Literature Corner” where you had to read The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, by John Boyne or The Great Gatsby, by Scott Fitzgerald, please answer the following questions.
Question 1 – How did you find reading a novel? On a scale from 1 to 3 where 1= not difficult, 2= quite difficult, and 3=complex, how complex was the vocabulary used in the literary work?
Student 1: ‘I would rate it a 2 because it was something I was not used to and I also faced new expressions and words that didn’t seem very familiar.’
Student 2: ‘For this activity, my class had to read The Great Gatsby. I enjoyed reading this novel, being one of the most popular books in American literature. It touches upon many themes, which are very interesting to dissect, and also common in our lives at some point. On a scale from 1 to 3, I found the novel being situated at about 1 and a half. The vocabulary wasn’t difficult, but I had to look up some words from time to time. Overall, the reading process flowed smoothly.‘
Question 2 – Reading the book and participating in the public presentation (with teachers and other students), which of the language aspects have been improved? Please try to support your answers with arguments.
Student 1: ‘Reading the book and participating in the public presentation really helped me with my communication skills, but also with oral production. I find that reading a book and then learning about it in class or by yourself is very different then actually presenting it to other people. Sometimes, teaching someone a certain subject or anything really can help one understand it better, and I think that is the case here.’
Student 2: ‘After reading the novel, the presentation experience was interesting and educational, besides enhancing my public speaking ability; I improved my vocabulary as well as my presentation skills.’
Question 3 – Would you recommend this activity? What would you improve?
Student 1: ‘I would highly recommend this activity, I found it very entertaining and intellectually stimulating and I would absolutely do it again if I had the chance. The only thing that I would improve is the depth of the presentation. Participants should go even deeper into the book, into its meaning, metaphors and not so obvious themes. Go deep!’
Student 2: ‘I enjoyed this activity and the amount of communication that went into preparation for it. I would definitely like to be part of similar projects in the future and so I would recommend activities of this nature to other classes.’
Mastering a language and becoming proficient in a foreign language does not come from dwelling on its grammar and structure only. On the contrary, it comes from analysing the way native speakers use the language, be that through the English-speakers’ literature or the dialogues spoken in an English communicative event. By using these media combined, students are more likely to make a more significant progress, becoming more native-like while communicating, expanding their knowledge and expanding their cultural horizons.The current article aimed to offer students a different opportunity to expand their knowledge, namely to improve their communicative skills in English, to brush up on their fluency and proficiency.
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- anybooks.en.softonic.com/android www.teachingenglish.org.uk