Different technology devices have a positive impact on children’s learning. A lot of research has been conducted to study the impact of technological devices in teaching students effectively, and one such research Dr. Ajayi (2012) illustrates the positive impact technological learning practices had on students. In Video Reading and Multimodality: A Study of ESL/Literacy Pupils’ Interpretation of Cinderella from Their Socio-historical Perspective, Dr. Ajayi (2012) shows how teachers in elementary schools in California, used videos of Cinderella to teach students the standard literary concepts of “ story plots, meanings, characters, settings, themes, and conflicts,” (Dr. Ajayi, p. 61) successfully. This experience revealed that the video provided enough quality information to authenticate the argument that different technological devices have a positive impact on the learning skills of children today.
In the United States, as English is the medium of instruction in schools and colleges, students who immigrate with their parents to the U. S find the language of instruction hard to understand. After a few months, they drop out of school, citing difficulties in understanding and learning subjects in a foreign language. While a lot of research has happened in the field of using technology to teach English Language Learners (ELLLs), not much has been done in the research of the importance of cultural and social life in enhancing learning patterns. While a number of studies in parent involvement in educating their children have been studied, the importance is technology devices in assisting in learning practices today assume significance, as there are not sufficient qualified teachers available to teach English to English Language Learners.
There are many researchers who believe that conventional classroom teaching and learning is better. The reason why they feel this way is because, technology would be hard for many students to use or understand, which would put additional burden on them to learn, and, there would be less personalized one-to-one interactions between teachers and students of English Language Learners. According to Chen-Ting et al (2008), Sheltered Instruction and Family Involvement (SIFI) projects has not only helped teachers understand their student’s better, but has also helped them study the effects of family involvement on their academic achievements. While the program requires teachers to develop their own plans to involve the families of these ELL students in their education, it also helps these teachers develop a strong, friendly relationship with them. This close relationship helps teachers and students to understand one another, and identify study plans that are suited to each student’s learning capability. They stressed that by participating in SIFI, most participants; teachers and parents of students of ELL included, were able to translate their positive relationship in the success to their students and children’s language development. Teachers could learn and provide ‘ sheltered instruction’ to assist ELLs improve their academic achievement, and also in the positive family involvement practices linked to higher achievement of their wards in school. In addition to the learning enhancement in students, the SIFI project also noted the positive changes in parents’ involvement in their children’s academic development. More parents became involved in PTA activities and they showed more interest in seeing their wards succeed; for they wanted to become positive partners in arms and not opponents. With this more and more parents volunteered for family events, and the school management on their part, worked to welcome parents before school started with picnics and ‘ meet and greet’ orientation (Chen-Ting et al., p. 7-9).
With the number of immigrants to the U. S growing rapidly, there is pressure on teachers to impart quality and effective learning to students with language other than English. Waxman and Tellez (2002) in Research Synthesis on Effective Teaching Practices for English language Learners states that the pressing problem with teaching learners of second language is the shortage of qualified teachers. In a conventional classroom, the number of students to teacher ratio would be approximately 40: 1. However, when the number of ESL students increase considerably over a period of time, it would be difficult to give each one of them personalized attention because of their large numbers. This view is equally voiced by Galvan (2011), who says that the number of Hispanic students entering public schools in the U. S is growing rapidly. In At-Risk Hispanic Students’ Perception of Afterschool Programs: a New Model Targeting the Needs of English Language Learners, Galvan (p. vii), says that serving the ‘ at-risk’ Hispanic students and their families is one of the biggest challenges facing the public schools here. Quoting Gandara & Contreras (2009), Galvan says “ Between 1995 and 2005, the public school ELLs in grades K-12 increased by 57% versus 3% for the entire student population,” (Galvan, p. 11). When the Department of Education (DOE), Office of English Language Acquisition, conducted a study between 1991 and 2002, they found that the school enrolment of Limited English Proficient (LEP) students grew by 95%., and by 2030, “ language minority students are expected to comprise 40% of the school-aged population in the United States,” stated Thomas and Collier (2002), with “ approximately 80% of all ELL students with Hispanic origins” (Galvan, 2011, p. 11).
Considering the above points, it is clear that to educate such a large number of students, there will have to be a large number of qualified ESL teachers. However, this looks a dim possibility, as there are not enough teachers of ESL, and because, the numbers of qualified teachers are less, and the onus falls on the limited teachers to produce positive results with the available resources, there will be less aspiring teachers for ESL programs. The reason for the shortage of qualified teachers of English Language Learner is because teachers, who want to teach ELL, have to learn a second language and the traditional academic content before they can impart training to learners of ELL, says Gersten and Jimenez (1998). Many teachers feel that they are not professionally equipped to teach ELL students because of this, and so are reluctant to teach ELL. In addition, Yates and Ortiz (1991) believe that another reason for the shortage of teachers is that they have an inappropriate expectation of ELL. Many teachers simply view ELLs as low-performing, native English-speaking children; “ Once teachers begin to examine their existing teaching practices critically, they may acknowledge the value of more student-centered practices” (Waxman and Tellez, p. 31). When such situations are considered, it makes it worthwhile that schools should include technology devices to enhance learning, because, it reduces the pressure on teachers to include one-to-one studies, and it motivates students to learn with fun.
In support of technology devices, in “ Video Reading and Multimodality: A Study of ESL/Literacy Pupils’ Interpretation of Cinderella,” Ajayi (p. 60) reveals how students of Hispanic background, with English as a second Languge, use social, cultural, historical and political experiences and multimodal resources to interpret and represent Cinderella successfully. He believes that multimedia-based graphic novels that use animated stories that are visually appealing, can be used to teach students of ELL listen, read, and write effectively. His research on ESL/Literacy Pupils’ Interpretation of Cinderella From Their Socio-Historical Perspective is based on English learning in non-English speaking countries, where he found multimedia-based graphic novels to not only enhance learning skills, but also attracted students to want more.
Ajayi (p. 62) argues that social and cultural complexities hamper studies, and relates his argument to Hispanic ESL pupils, who he says, will find multi-literacies go well beyond their learning and apprehending capacity in spoken/written English. This is because, as Black (2008) and Vasquez (2005), say, “ instead of solely relying on English language, multi-literacies provide these students with the opportunities to experiment with multimodal representations, thus giving them scope to experiment, and gain access to a wider range of semiotic possibilities for meaning making” (Ajayi, p. 62). Unlike school literacy curricula, which are at times, monotonous and inactive, students, when exposed to Disney videos, get involved in them and strive to ‘ read’ them as they are not only pleasant to the eye because of their sparkling colors and visual images, but also because of the various sounds, movements, gestures, and language for communication. Children remain glued to the television to watch cartoons such as Tom & Jerry, Top Cat, Mickey Mouse, Barbie, and so on. Therefore, why not include such technological devices in education that keeps students interested? Gee (Ajayi, p. 64) says that ‘ reading’ in videos “ is an active process where learners reflect on contexts and interpret their meanings through embodied experiences of the domain.” Students, says Ajayi (p. 62), are so engrossed in cartoon shows that they “ relate their meanings to the social context as they try to understand imbedded ideological messages.” They ask questions such as “ the meaning of the video, its cultural context, the ethnic, social and gender issues, and the cause for the tensions and conflicts regarding gender roles and representations” (Ajayi, p. 62).
Disney videos are in use across California to teach millions of students regardless of their ethnic and language backgrounds, says Ajayi (p. 66). However, despite the ongoing debate on issues of stereotype and the evidence of patterns of bias in gender roles and social representations in such videos, there is not enough literacy research to show how children interpret Cinderella in real-life ESL/literacy classrooms. According to Huang et al (p. 107), “ if multimedia technology is combined with appropriate instructional designs, it can create a healthy environment that instigates effective language learning.” As much as children love playing with gaming consoles, they will immediately be attracted to the graphic and colourful multimedia presentations. Whether it’s to teach students the meaning of a word, or to teach them grammar, the graphic representations will leave a strong impression on these English Language Learners. Similarly, for reading comprehension, multimedia-based graphic novels using animated stories that are visually appealing to the eyes, can be developed to make listening, reading, and writing effective. Multimedia technology can add voice, animated images, music, words and databases that are easy to manage, and students can run, and rerun the program as many times as required to learn. It would also be a great idea to source and research English learning methods in non-English speaking countries, as this could help solve some of the more complicated views that certain teachers could ask. While technology will definitely enhance learning patterns and behavior, the biggest challenge it will face is its acceptability. Would schools be ready to shift from the traditional teaching and learning methods to a more, self-learning style of learning with minimal supervision, and would teachers, who may feel threatened by the introduction of technology-based learning systems, be intimidated and challenge its implementation
“ Ethnographic studies of English as Second Language students do suggest that social and cultural contexts provide crucial factors for success” (Ajayi, p. 67). Such studies have shown that there are multiple literacy practices for students of ESL and that these practices are inclusive of their community’s cultural practices. This makes it easier for these students to interpret their meanings. For example, as students learn literacy, “ they use those practices to interact with others, form values, develop self-identities, and try and become an acceptable member of their community” (Ajayi, p. 67). Education or any other form of learning does not take place in a vacuum; it takes place within the cultural life of a community, where “ it shares cultural values, attitudes, feelings, social practices and relationships,” says authors Gee, Barton and Hamilton (Ajayi, p. 67). Since there are a number of students of a certain majority of students from a particular social group in the classroom, others are bound to pick up various values, attitudes, feelings and so on from their class. In this context, Gee (2003) says, “ knowing about a social practice always involves recognizing various distinctive ways of acting, interacting, valuing, feeling, knowing, and using various objects and technologies that constitute social practice. Hence, literacy practices for ESL students is not only about learning ‘ technical skills’ to be mastered in class, but understanding that they are activities involving complex literacy practices that helps them acquire values, attitudes, and social practices that are socially imbedded in a particular community. Thus, one sees how, in Video Reading and Multimodality: A Study of ESL/Literacy Pupils’ Interpretation of Cinderella, ” Ajayi (p. 68) reveals how students of Hispanic background, with English as a second Languge, use social, cultural, historical and political experiences and multimodal resources to interpret and represent Cinderella successfully.
In order to make technology-based Multimodal/multi-literacies practices effective for ESL students, there has to be an “ open-ended, cultural shift in situational representations in contemporary literacy practices,” says Ajayi (p. 65-66). For example, in his study of Hispanic ESL students, he found that in the different social contexts, these students frequently used a variety of English, in Spanish variety, regional dialect, and other standard and hybridized form of English and Spanish. Thus, as Gee says, “ while learning and understanding their subject, these children used “ social languages” (Ajayi, p. 80) in their “ local, transnational, ethnic, sub-cultural, and affinity group contexts” (Ajayi, p. 86), that are crucial features of literacy practices for ESL students. These different contexts in which these students use literacies show how complex it would be for a teacher to master and train their wards in learning. For teachers to succeed, they would need to understand the ‘ multi-semiotic nature of texts,’ and how learners ‘ draw upon and articulate together different semiotics modalities’ says Fairclough (p. 162). Therefore, if teachers were to succeed in such an environment, they would have to design learning experiences that afford learners the opportunity to develop strategies for reading and writing diverse textual forms, whether in print or medium of the screen. This proves beyond doubt that it would be best to introduce technology devices to enhance learning behaviours in students of ESL, as the programs would already be developed and stored in memory, and teachers and students can easily access this as and when required. Besides, technology-based devices are easy to handle and operate, and with the kind of visual effects and features incorporated in them, students would enjoy learning.
Clearly the evidence shows that technology devices have helped Hispanic students learn better. Even though a number of researches have shown the effectiveness of Sheltered Instruction and Family Involvement (SIFI) projects in helping teachers understand their student’s better, and also helped them study the effects of family involvement on their academic achievements intensively, the use of technology-based devices in schools in California has proved the effectiveness in enhancing learning practices. By looking at some of the scholarly works of Ajayi, L, (2012), Chen-Ting, Chen, Kyle, D. W, and McIntyre, E, (2008), Galvan, W, C, (2011), Huang, X, Dedegikas, C, and Walls, J, (2011), and Waxman Hersh and Tellez Kip, (2002), it is evident that technology-based devices can enhance learning patterns in students of ELL and ESL.
Ajayi, L, (2012), “ Video Reading and Multimodality: A Study of ESL/Literacy Pupils’ Interpretation of Cinderella from Their Socio-historical Perspective,” The Urban Review, 44(1), p. 60-89
Chen-Ting, Chen, Kyle, D. W, and McIntyre, E, (2008), “ Helping Teachers Work Effectively with English Language Learners and Their Families,” The School Community Journal, Web Volume 18, Number 1, Retrieved June 26, 2014, from http://www. adi. org/journal/resources/SCJ_SS08. pdf, p. 7-20
Galvan, W, Cynthia, (2011), At-Risk Hispanic Students’ Perception of After-School Programs: A New Model Targeting the Needs of English Language Learners, Web 2011, Web, Retrieved June 26, 2014, from https://repositories. tdl. org/utb-ir/bitstream/handle/2152. 2/85/galvan_cynthia_dissertation. pdf? sequence= 1
Huang, X, Dedegikas, C, and Walls, J, (2011), Using multimedia technology to teach ModernGreek language online in China: Development, implementation, and evaluation, European Journal of Open, Distance and E Learning, (1)
Waxman Hersh and Tellez Kip, 2002, “ Research Synthesis on Effective Teaching Practices for English Language Learners,” Office of the Educational Research and Improvement (ED), Washington DC, p. 7-30