Revistes Catalanes amb Accés Obert (RACO)

Audiovisual materials: a way to reinforce listening skills in primary school teacher education

Pilar González-Vera, Ana Hornero Corisco

Resum


This paper aims to show the effective use of technology and audiovisual materials in the teaching and learning of EFL. It intends to offer an efficient way to improve students’ listening skills through the use of intensive listening (Harmer 2007). That listening skills need to be reinforced both in and outside the classroom is proved by the evidence of the weak competence of Spanish students in oral skills in English provided by a number of surveys at national and European level (Hornero et al. 2013). According to the students’ perceptions, there would seem to be a need to insist on the practice of listening. Moreover, doing listening tasks outside the classroom following their teacher’s guidance, surely increases the students’ motivation and helps to get them used to the authentic L2 sounds (Mur et al. 2013).

For that purpose a representative sample of undergraduate students of the degree in Primary Education with a pre-intermediate B1 was selected. The students, whose ages ranged from 18 to 22, belonged to the so-called E-generation (Prensky 2001), which is characterised by living surrounded by a digital culture and their ability to perform multiple tasks. These students have a low tolerance for lectures and prefer active rather than passive learning, which leads to a change in the model of pedagogy, “from a teacher focused approach based on instruction to a student focused model based on collaboration” (Tapscott, 2009).

The study was developed in three stages. First, an initial questionnaire designed specifically for this piece of research was distributed in order to shed light on our students’ English level as well as on the ways and resources they use to learn English. The questionnaire revealed that oral communication skills (listening, speaking and pronunciation) were usually underestimated even though language curricula consider communication as the ultimate goal of learning a language. Bearing in mind these results, the present study proposed two main activities, one focused on listening comprehension and another on the improvement of pronunciation through audiovisual materials, as part of their continuous assessment in the subject Inglés en Educación Primaria I. Students were given clear instructions for the completion of the tasks based on clips from the British animated children’s television seriesPeppa Pig and Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom. Their choice was justified by the thematic focus that is related to one of the units of the subject and the clarity of the RP accent used in both series. Finally, a post-test demonstrated that watching video clips allowed students to see language in use, that is, to activate all their competences to comprehend oral discourses and to relate paralinguistic behaviour to intonation, an effective way to learn at the same time a range of cross-cultural clues.

Training future teachers with these tools and activities –once it has been proved they are effective and motivating– we are paving the ground for a more straightforward  inclusion of these materials and technologies in the EFL teaching and learning process and ensuring an updating in the methodologies of foreign language teaching, a demand made by students themselves.

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