Literacy And Language Teaching: Digital Stories In The English Language Classroom

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BENEFIT

Current adolescents are living in the digital world, and they feel comfortable in the environment of the ubiquitous mediascape (Ohler, 2013). There is no doubt that the modern young generation is called 'digital natives' (Lambert, 2018, p. 6). A research reported that about 50 % of teenagers from 12 to 17 in the US have experienced on the Internet 'from sharing self-authored material to blogging and re-mixing text, music and visuals' (Lenhart and Madden, 2005, cited in Lundby, 2008, p. 161). Furthermore, A survey conducted by Cabinet Office, Government of Japan (2018) announced that the average time of Internet use in 2018 of high school students, junior high school students and elementary school students in Japan is 217 minutes, 163 minutes and 118 minutes respectively. In addition, the average time of any group has been increased compared to the previous year. As for high school students, 80.6 % of them use more than two hours a day on average. As is seen in the data above, the way of communication among the juvenile has been transforming rapidly beyond the imagination of the previous generation.

'Not only is social life identical with communication, but all communication (and hence all genuine social life) is educative. To be a recipient of a communication is to have an enlarged and changed experience' (Dewey, 1916, cited in Sharples, 2005, p. 147).

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What new value of communication would educators provide to youngsters in the 21st century? Kessler (2018) articulates that the current linguistic teachers should be aware of integrating digital tools and sophisticated resources from authentic language teaching in the classroom. Robin (2008) describes five literacy skills as '21st-century literacy', students can improve through making digital storytelling in the classroom as follows: 1. Digital literacy-the competence to interact with other community to exchange their ideas, search resources and ask for support 2. Global literacy-the proficiency to understand, reply and summarise information from different angles 3. Technology literacy-the skill to combine plural digital appliances to develop creativity and performance 4. Visual literacy-the capability to create and devise by imagining effectively 5. Information literacy-the competence to search, think critically and incorporate information (p. 223).

Furthermore, making digital stories encourages students as a skilful user of up to date media technology and boosts their confidence in creating multimedia texts (Brice and Lambert, 2009). Yang and Wu (2012) also claim that it enables learners to improve their self-expression learning enthusiasm and also to nurture manifold sociocultural identities (Skinner and Hagood, 2008). Susono (2012) analyses that one of the meaningful roles of creating digital storytelling is that it allows students to develop interpersonal intelligence and linguistics intelligence through the process. In his research, he also reports that the experience of making digital story stimulated students' awareness of how to express their own voice and how to entertain the audience by engaging humour.

I believe making digital stories in groups enriches students' creativity and provides critical thinking skills by cooperating with other members. There is a basic instruction to make a digital story, which is 'Think it. Feel it. Show it. See it. Hear it. Mix it. Share it.' (Lambert, 2018, p. 89). To proceed with each step, Students can increase their seven kinds of senses as follows, Think it; students think the reason and the thing they want to tell. Show it; they think their own feelings when they share the story to tell. See it; they think about how to describe in each scene and in the sequence. Hear it; they think the image they want to tell the audience. Mix it; they think how to convey the words and sounds appropriately when they edit, they mix and combine the words, photos and sound. Lastly, share it; they think about the story a piece of art with the audience.

As the saying ‘four eyes are better than two' goes, working in groups requires how to cope with conflicts which arise among group mates. One group in the classroom is a minimum unit of the society, and human beings cannot avoid getting around to as a member of society. Teachers are required to monitor each student's role in a group and how each group functions so that students can practice how to negotiate respectfully. To foster students' independent attitude, teachers must become facilitators rather than instructors (Richards, 2017). Brice and Lambert (2009) show 7 roles; 'scriptwriter, director, camera person, production designer, sound engineer and editor' as production team roles (p. 78). In the process, they can grow their awareness of responsibility for their own roles. In terms of language learning, I think making a digital story can nurture students' development of their literacy competence. Lambert (2018) states that creating digital storytelling requires students to excavate personal experiences and to extract key factors by building a valuable connection of what they learned during the study. Their writing leads to deepening self-awareness and critical reflection. As for another advantage, Reid, Forrestal and Cook (1989) point out that the work in small groups enables their language to convey more freely and demands to engage the opinions and information. It is an excellent opportunity for learners to support and teach each other through problem-solving.

CHALLENGE

Regarding my group co-operation, our group comprises four Chinese students and one Japanese. I was the only person whose native language is different. We have not had big discrepancies or disagreements in a group all in all. I am much grateful to my groupmate who exerted great effort and excellent teamwork, I believe we were able to proceed with each task as planned. Aside from our regular class, we had two extra meetings in school and discussed using WeChat app outside class hours. One of my groupmates, Jessie, gave an underlying idea of the story, and she is also competent to make digital stories so she edited and incorporated the entire data we shot. In addition, she is well-organised about what we needed to do next and led our group skillfully. She played an essential role in our group, so we learned many things from her.

I would like to express my honest feelings in this reflection as a person who was outnumbered by the members of the team. Although our common language is English, as time went by, my group mates started to chat in their native language. It made me feel isolated because I would say it was more challenging for me to be surrounded by people who speak a language which I could not able to understand. I fully understand that they did it unintentionally. On the contrary, I do appreciate that they had me in the same group. I feel sorry for them because I am by far the eldest because age matters in Japan. To make matters worse, I am not agile to use digital gadgets, so I was not able to contribute to them very much. Notwithstanding, at the same time, this experience reminded me of my work environment in Japan. There were several colleagues who are from different countries and did not speak Japanese in my previous school. Although it was not always, but we sometimes used Japanese while discussing, because it was much easier and faster among Japanese teachers. I didn't mean to isolate them or make them feel uncomfortable at all. So now I learned from my experience to being someone’s shoe and I come to hope to give vulnerable people ‘s voice in society. Moreover, sadly to say, in terms of my group work, I did not have the confidence in my English skill to put all our thoughts together constructively, so I was not able to persuade them to use only English strongly. This experience made me rethink about my identity and how I should behave depending on the circumstances. Then in the class' 10th week, one of my classmates mentioned that his other group members wanted to use their native language he doesn't understand while discussing. His utterance was surprising because his attitude as a student and English sounded perfect to me. He didn't seem to have any dilemmas with his group mates. Therefore, from this experience, I learned that there were some people who felt similar struggles with communicating which is caused by language barrier. Now, I appreciate to hear his predicament and my teacher's questions and feedback about the matter.

Furthermore, in terms of cultural awareness, I came to think that national traits are influential as to how people behave in society. When I pick up the Japanese as an example, we prioritise maintaining harmony in our culture so we tend to avoid expressing our disagreements. However, learning English is also a critical factor in learning about their culture and their thoughts embedded in the language. So Japanese people learning English need to learn about the difference and how to communicate practically in an English setting. This is a meaningful opportunity to appreciate the different values and norms, as well as to reconsider our identity objectively. In order to have a deeper discussion in English, I would say that every EFL learner has to get out of their own comfort zone in order to become more open-minded and versatile for the change. Furthermore, the other challenge I learned was about how to express my voice in English correctly and effectively. I found my voice embarrassing after I recorded it, but after listening, I realized the areas that needs improvement. In addition, we needed to arrange among my group mates’ recordings through the sequence of the story, and this was a more exciting opportunity to create a piece of work in groups.

To sum it up, there are some areas for teachers to consider when students create digital stories by group in English pedagogy. The first area is about the language students use in groups. Regardless of the students' L1, there should be a kind of standard classroom rules to speak English and awareness of why we are making digital stories in our English class. Moreover, if there are some students who have a different culture even though their L1 language would be the same, teachers need to pay further attention. The second is to clarify each student's role, which should be flexible depending on the occasions. The third is to make sure each group's progress precisely and what students should do and by when. The fourth is to share the ideas in each class. Students tend to pay attention to only own their groups, but knowing other groups' progress and issues lead to an opportunity to think about their own problems critically. As far as these concerns above, the younger students are, the more teachers are required to pay attention to. Lastly, if students' English level is not high, teachers need to teach useful functions in discussions as lead-in activities in every class, such as giving one's opinions, making suggestions, expressing certainty or uncertainty and questions. This leads to encouraging students' positive attitude as English speakers in groups.

TEACHING

I would like to use digital storytelling in my future teaching. Though this is a very personal idea, whenever I cannot make up my mind in teaching, I make it a rule to ask myself as follows, ‘Would I want to teach this to my kids?' If the answer would be yes, I put it into practice. Regarding making digital storytelling, my answer is ‘Yes.' because it is inevitable for young generations to live in the modern technology era. As far as I concerned, there would be two significant factors to consider before starting. The first is to clarify the aim and the advantages of making digital stories to the guardians at the earlier stage. In order to make them, some students might need to use the additional time to discuss or take photos. Moreover, some students might ask to use digital equipment or realia in their house. Nevertheless, seen from the viewpoint of parents, there is a controversy as the saying ‘Let sleeping dogs lie' goes, some guardians are still not willing to make use of modern digital technology in educational settings. In fact, many parents recognise that it is effective in developing the quality of children's life, whereas they worry about its harm and doubt its benefits to children (Keengwe and Onchwar, 2009, Kook, 1997). According to a survey toward a Japanese junior high school students, guardians and teachers, students who have their own smartphone accounts for 84 percent of all, while the percentage of the usages of guardians and teachers are 63% and 53 % (Otani, Haga, Ikehata, Nagao, Sato, Takagi and Yamane, 2015). This data revealed that there is a gap between the guardians and their students in the digital environment.

The second factor to consider is to gain colleagues' understanding and balance school curriculum. It is necessary to reconsider annual syllabus and set school schedule to plan the film festival for the parents. As for my level of confidence in up-to-date technologies, I would need to ask some colleagues’ help who are competent enough with them in consideration of unexpected issues. In addition, students judge teachers by their stereotyped ideas, which is that people become less sensitive to new technologies as they get older. That is why I would like to practice this activity which is unfamiliar with Japanese students as a middle-aged female teacher. It would also prove if people have enthusiasm, age or gender doesn't matter. Besides, I am pretty sure that students would get used to it much faster than me. Based on my experience, I have already known there are many students who are resourceful enough to deal with electronic devices such as using PowerPoint and Video Maker.

In terms of using digital story-making, I would like to practice it with the third-grade students in junior high school or high school students in Japan. It is because of their maturity and experiences of language in use. Regarding the content, I would like to let students introduce Japanese culture in English which they are proud of. Next year we will have the Tokyo Olympics, which will be an excellent opportunity to consider the relationship between English and its students. Parents also would be interested in what culture their children want to spread in English. Each group will choose one Japanese culture and treat it as the main actor in the story. They can introduce its uniqueness such as its history, role and advantage. It leads to thinking about how to attract redemptioners' interest outside of Japan too. Before starting, I will show the samples then explain why we will practice a digital storytelling activity in groups. Richards (2015) claims that one of the critical factors to deliberate when teachers start to teach is to clarify a rationale for the aim. Then I will let students discuss what rules we necessitate to make a digital story in our English class, such as how to deal with digital equipment, what appliance they can use and how to work as a team. After that, I'll divide students into groups of 3 or 4 and let them decide each role.

I would like to use six classes for two weeks, and at the beginning of each class, we share each groups’ progress and issues, and then read useful expressions in a loud to have conversation easily. As a conclusion, we will watch each group's work and exchange feedback having guardians at a film festival. In sum, there is no getting around the fact that both teachers and students inhabit in the digital era. Little has been reported on practising digital story in the classroom in Japan. Hence, I would like to make use of it at the vanguard of it with my students.

Refernces

  1. Brice, A., & Lambert, R. (2009). Digital storytelling. Curriculum Press.
  2. Richards, J. (2017). Curriculum development in language teaching (Second edition.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  3. Kessler, G. (2018). Technology and the future of language teaching. Foreign Language Annals, 51(1), 205-218.
  4. Ohler, J. B. (2013). Digital storytelling in the classroom: New media pathways to literacy, learning, and creativity. Corwin Press.
  5. Lambert, J. (2018). Digital storytelling: Capturing lives, creating community. Routledge.
  6. Cabinet Office, Government of Japan. (2018). Heiseisanjyunendo seishonen no internet riyou kankyo jittai chosa [Survey on the actual conditions of youth Internet use]. Retrieved from https://www8.cao.go.jp › youth-harm › chousa › net-jittai › pdf › sokuhou
  7. Otani, T., Haga, T., Ikehata, Y., Nagao, N., Sato, T., Takagi, H., & Yamane, S. (2015). A Feasibility Study and an Implementation of an Educational Course designed for the Improvement of Adults’ “Information Safety Literacy” in a Local Community. jyouhoukyouikushinpojiumu 73-78.
  8. Lundby, K. (Ed.). (2008). Digital storytelling, mediatized stories: Self-representations in new media. Peter Lang.
  9. Keengwe, J., & Onchwari, G. (2009). Technology and early childhood education: A technology integration professional development model for practicing teachers. Early Childhood Education Journal, 37(3), 209.
  10. Yang, Y. T. C., & Wu, W. C. I. (2012). Digital storytelling for enhancing student academic achievement, critical thinking, and learning motivation: A year-long experimental study. Computers & education, 59(2), 339-352.
  11. Skinner, E., & Hagood, M. C. (2008). Developing literate identities with English language learners through digital storytelling. The Reading Matrix: An International Online Journal, 8(2).
  12. Susono, H (2012). digital storytelling wo toriireta jyugyo sekkei. [Class design incorporating digital storytelling]. Miedaigakukyouikugakubufuzokukyouikujissennsougosentakiyou. (32), 1-6.
  13. Richards, J. C. (2015). Key issues in language teaching. Cambridge University Press.
  14. Robin, B. R. (2008). Digital storytelling: A powerful technology tool for the 21st century classroom. Theory into practice, 47(3), 220-228.
  15. Reid, J., Forrestal, P., & Cook, J. (1989). Small group learning in the classroom (Rev. ed.). Rozelle, N.S.W: Primary English Teaching Association.
  16. Sharples, M. (2005). Learning as conversation transforming education in the mobile age (pp. 147-152). na.
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Literacy And Language Teaching: Digital Stories In The English Language Classroom. (2022, February 24). Edubirdie. Retrieved July 15, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/literacy-and-language-teaching-digital-stories-in-the-english-language-classroom/
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Literacy And Language Teaching: Digital Stories In The English Language Classroom [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Feb 24 [cited 2024 Jul 15]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/literacy-and-language-teaching-digital-stories-in-the-english-language-classroom/
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