Luận văn Using IT in teaching and learning Reading English for Biology for 2nd-Year students at HNUE

Since computers were invented, they have increasingly been used for multi purposes to assist people all over the world. As a result, information technology (IT) has become an essential part in all aspects of our life. Thanks to IT, everything is now becoming faster, more convenient, more comfortable and more effective. Vietnam has recently integrated itself into the whole world in applying IT in all walks of life, including education. When Vietnam joined WTO in 2006, our opportunities to push the total development of education have been increasing with IT.

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INTRODUCTION 1. Rationale Since computers were invented, they have increasingly been used for multi purposes to assist people all over the world. As a result, information technology (IT) has become an essential part in all aspects of our life. Thanks to IT, everything is now becoming faster, more convenient, more comfortable and more effective. Vietnam has recently integrated itself into the whole world in applying IT in all walks of life, including education. When Vietnam joined WTO in 2006, our opportunities to push the total development of education have been increasing with IT. IT has, in fact, contributed greatly to the renovation of teaching and learning in Vietnam. Teachers and students are now encouraged to update the information of their interests by searching on the Internet. Their knowledge, thus, is much broader. For the past years, schools and universities have launched the movement of renovating the methods of teaching and learning. IT, then, has proved its role. The teachers and students in the field of foreign languages also take part in the movement of renovating the methods of teaching and learning in Vietnam. The Faculty of English at Hanoi National University of Education (HNUE) have lately renovated the methods of teaching and learning by using IT. However, the effect remains limited. As a lecturer at the Faculty of English, the author has been studying an aspect in teaching English for Specific Purposes (ESP) for non-English-major students with the assistance of IT: Using IT in teaching and learning Reading English for Biology for 2nd-year students at HNUE. 2. Aims of the study The thesis focuses on studying the extent to which IT can facilitate teaching and learning reading English for Biology at HNUE. In details, it aims at: Discovering how IT influences foreign language teaching and learning (generally) and reading English for Biology teaching and learning (particularly) and the extent to which IT can assist reading English for Biology teaching and learning; Synthesizing the real situation of teaching and learning reading English for Biology using IT at HNUE by analyzing students’ questionnaire, teacher interview; and Investigating certain recommendations for administrators and teachers for applying IT to improve the quality of reading English for Biology teaching and learning at HNUE. 3. Scope of the study Due to the limited time, the researcher only focuses on using computers to promote 2nd-year students’ reading English for Biology at HNUE because of some reasons. Firstly, there are many means of IT in Vietnam now. Nevertheless, the computer is definitely by far the most popular IT means in Vietnam. Secondly, English for Biology, to some extent, is comparatively difficult to teach and learn because it is ESP. The trained teacher is the teacher of just English, not a teacher of Biology, so he/she is in lack of Biology knowledge. The students possess the knowledge of Biology, but they don’t know Biological terms in English. Computers are used to make the lessons easier to understand by showing the difficult structures and terms popularly used in Biology with the assistance of Projector and searching information on the Internet. Thirdly, the Faculty of English at HNUE have taught ESP for non-English-major students in order that they are able to read the professional materials in English and translate them into Vietnamese for study. 4. Research questions This thesis is accomplished for finding the answer to the question: How effectively is IT exploited to improve reading English for Biology teaching and learning at HNUE? More specifically, it deals with the following smaller questions: How has IT been used in teaching and learning foreign languages at HNUE? To what extent have lecturers of The Faculty of English and students of The Faculty of Agro-biology raised the quality of teaching and learning reading English for Biology with IT recently? 5. Methods of the study The author has used the following main methods to do the research: Consulting books, journals and newspapers on applying IT in teaching and learning foreign languages or ESP; Searching information on the Internet ; Doing a survey on 2nd-year students of the Faculty of Agro-biology; Interviewing lecturers of the Faculty of English who have taught English for Biology; and Analyzing the data collected quantitatively and qualitatively to find out the real situation of teaching and learning reading English for Biology at HNUE with IT. 6. Significance of the study As I have mentioned above, the movement of methods of teaching and learning renovation has been launched in HNUE, including the Faculty of English. The lecturers of English have often used IT to teach English-major students. However, they only sometimes teach non-English-major students with IT. Last year, they started to teach ESP for 2nd-year non-English-major students. Therefore, the idea of using IT to teach ESP is fairly fresh. The author, who has taught English for Biology at HNUE, have thought of how to apply IT to raise the quality of teaching and learning English for Biology and the idea has, in fact, worked well. Students were fascinated in learning reading English for Biology with IT in class. However, due to certain reasons, such lessons with IT cannot be done frequently. The researcher has acted her mind about the situation in order that IT will be applied more often and more efficiently for teaching and learning reading English for Biology promotion in the coming time. If that comes true, ESP in general and English for Biology in particular will definitely interest non-English-major students and lecturers of English. 7. Organization of the study This brief study is divided into three main parts: Introduction, Development and Conclusion. The first part, INTRODUCTION consists of seven subparts: Rationale, Aims of the study, Scope of the study, Research questions, Methods of the study, Significance of the study and Organization of the study. The second part, DEVELOPMENT has three chapters: Literature Review, The study and Recommendations. The second part is by far the most important of the whole thesis. It contains the real fact and data synthesis and analysis to answer the research questions with specific techniques, different types of exercises designed for drill as vivid illustrations. The final part, CONCLUSION summarizes all the ideas expressed throughout the research, analyzes limitation of the paper and suggests further research orientations. DEVELOPMENT CHAPTER ONE. LITERATURE REVIEW This chapter gives an overview of the literature on computers in English as a foreign language (EFL) teaching and learning and computers in ESP teaching and learning. I.1. Theoretical backgrounds of computers and EFL teaching and learning I.1.1. Introduction This section starts with the introduction about the educational technology in foreign language teaching and learning to create a portrait of the field. Next, we look into a specific branch of technology, computer technology. To provide a deeper view, history of computer-assisted language teaching and learning and computer uses in EFL teaching learning are investigated. I.1.2. Educational Technology and EFL teaching and learning Thanks to the achievements of international science and technology, the methods of teaching and learning have undeniably been changing year by year. Now it is time for us to make up the general scenery of technology in foreign language classroom or “educational technology” (Harmer 2001, p.134). The grammar-translation method has usually been the most popular method of teaching with chalk, blackboards, pens, paper and textbooks. These go with educational technologies. Warschauer, M & Carla Meskill (2000) said nearly every type of foreign language classroom teaching is supported by its own technologies. The blackboard can be considered a perfect tool for grammar-translation method. The teacher uses the board for a lot of purposes, such as note pad, explanation aid, picture frame and so on. However, all the educational technologies above sometimes do not work well. In Vietnam and in the world, the traditional educational technologies are currently used by teachers or educators. To make the matter better, such modern media as radios, cassette players, recorders, movies, televisions, computers, projectors, etc have contributed to the renovation in teaching and learning. According to Nguyen Lan Trung (2002), they have changed classroom structures and have assisted learners’ acquisition of knowledge. Foreign language classroom activities have been much more fascinating and understandable to both teachers and learners, which is due to the usage of modern media. Learners learn foreign languages when they listen to CDs/tapes, watch films/programmes, or see images projected from computers’ screen. Of all the means of modern media, undeniably, computer is now quite a useful multi-purpose tool for foreign language education. A newly established branch called Information Technology (IT) started the actual revolution of innovating methods in foreign language education. Within this thesis, the researcher would like to discuss a central component of IT, computers. I.1.3. Computers and EFL teaching and learning I.1.3.1. Definition of CALL (Computer-assisted Language Instruction) To start this research, it is necessary to mention and explain the term CALL (Computer-assisted Language Instruction). CALL is a comparatively new way to acquire foreign languages. Hence, not many people have given adequate definitions of CALL. Having collected and consulted relevant materials, the author would like to discuss the definition of CALL on the website Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia ( Computer-assisted language learning (CALL) is an approach to language teaching and learning in which computer technology is used to aid to the presentation, reinforcement and assessment of material to be learned, usually including substantial interactive element. Computer is the key for successful CALL. Teachers and learners discover the language with the assistance of computer technology. The teachers use computers to show their lectures on the computer screen; the learners look at the lectures during their listening to the teachers and take note. Then, learners do not have to write too much. As well, they tend to be fond of the lectures. They can both study foreign language and improve their computer experience. I.1.3.2. History of CALL Up to now, CALL has already had a history of approximately fifty years. So many changes in CALL are due to the achievements of science and technology revolution. CALL began in the 1960s, but only on big mainframe computers. CALL became more widely available in 1976 with the appearance of a Prime 300 “minicomputer”. The microcomputer was invented in late 1970s. The seminal work “The mighty micro” published in 1979 clarified how to use a microcomputer. The 1980s marked the microcomputer boom. In 1980 schools in the UK embraced the BBC Micro. Then, BBC began to reach the masses. During the 1980s, the professional associations CALICO (1983) and EUROCALL (1986) were established. IALL (International Association for Learning Labs) goes back to 1965, initially focusing on language labs. IALL is now known as IALLT (International Association for Language Learning Technology) and focuses on language learning technology in general. The 1990s witnessed the advent of the Web which became available in 1993. EUROCALL became a recognised professional association (1993). The First World CALL conference took place in Melbourn, Australia in 1998. From 2000 to now, Broadband has become more widely available, opening up new possibilities for delivering audio and video materials via the Web. Blogs and podcasts have appeared. Since CALL was applied by learners or teachers, learning and teaching foreign languages have been much more fascinating, vivid and efficient. The writer has usually used CALL in her daily acquiring and teaching English, which has brought about surprisingly good results. I.1.3.3. Computer uses for language teaching and learning Over the past few years, people have exploited the uses of computers for teaching and learning (in general) and teaching and learning FL (in particular). As far as this study is concerned, certain applications of computers in teaching and learning FL are going to be listed. Firstly, computers are widely used for reference. Teachers and students can easily search for any information of language teaching and learning with the help of CD/DVD-ROMs and Internet. CDs/DVDs of FL have continuously been programmed and produced to meet the enormous needs of FL teaching and learning. The two most distinguishing programmes to count are Encyclopedia and FL Dictionaries. The Encyclopedia such as Encarta, Grollier, Hutchinson contains knowledge of all fields, including maps, photos and films. To those who teach and learn FL, FL Dictionaries can be used as a perfect tool for reference. They are available on CD-ROM or Internet. Undeniably, Internet is now the most convenient source of materials. “As a vast virtual library the Internet offers a seemingly endless range of topics to choose from, all in one handy location.” (Dede Teeler and Peta Gray, 2001, p.36). Google, Yahoo, Alta Vista, etc have been the most popular searching engines. Only with a key word, a teacher or student can find a vast amount of information related. The second use of computers is for Computer-mediated communication (CMC). People use computers to exchange information through Internet. E-mail, electronic bulletin boards or electronic newsgroups facilitate their online communication. The trend of applying IT in education encourages using CMC for FL teaching and learning. The researcher now would like to quote the two most common CMC forms used for FL teaching and learning, e-mail exchanging and instant messaging. E-mail exchanging is currently of great use. E-mail is more widely known as a method of sending messages from one computer to another. “The most obvious benefit of using e-mail is speed.” (Dede Teeler and Peta Gray, 2001) Additionally, e-mail is cheap, simple, efficient and versatile. Messages can be sent anywhere in an instant. Transmission can cost nothing or very little. It is easy to use after initial set-up. Sending to a group can be done in one action. Pictures or other files can be attached to the notes typed and sent. ( Thus, the teacher and students can share necessary materials for study. However, e-mail users are able to encounter some risks like Spam or Virus. Instant messaging (IM) is the most popular means of talking online with such websites as Yahoo Instant Messenger, Skype, etc. According to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia ( _messaging), “IM is a form of real-time communication between two or more people based on typed text. The text is conveyed via computers connected over a network such as the Internet.” A screenshot of PowWow, one of the first instant messengers with a graphical user interface IM applications began to appear in the 1970s on multi-user operating system such as UNIX. Since then, IM has always been made use of by people from all walks of life. For FL teaching and learning, the teacher and students exchange information online at any time without meeting face to face. Web sites. People surf web sites every hour all over the world. “The Web has become both a widespread and legitimate source of information retrieved” (Paul Stapleton, ELT Journal, volume 59/2, April 2005). Importantly, FL students and FL teachers make great use of web sites in FL as authentic materials for research or reference. Each Web page is identified by a unique address called URL (Uniform Resource Locator). Lina Lee from University of New Hampshire ( wrote: “Most of Web pages contain both text and images. Some browsers also have access to sounds and videos.” A variety of web sites are designed specifically for FL students and FL teachers to search information, exchange emails, do exercises, play games, etc. Here is an example of this kind of web sites: Articles on ELT teaching and learning are available on the Web page. Information is various on the Web sites, so the problem is how to select suitable information to search. If we can do that, web sites are beneficial enough for us to learn and teach FL. Word-processor. Nowadays, computers have been exploited in a lot of ways; however word-processor is by far the most common computer software in FL teaching and learning. Without it, we are not able to have materials for learning and teaching FL. Alison Piper (1987, cited in Harmer, J., 200, p.150) said that “the most successful educational use of computer at that time was a word-processor”. Word-processor is typically useful for teachers to prepare materials for their lectures in advance in the current age of IT. It is possible that a lecture with IT cannot be done without word-processor. I.1.4. Summary The above section of this chapter is an overview of IT and computer, the common application of IT and the way it has been exploited in FL teaching and learning. The following section will focus on theoretical backgrounds of computers in ESP teaching and learning. I.2. Theoretical backgrounds of computers in ESP teaching and learning I.2.1. Introduction In FL teaching and learning, computers have been used efficiently for educators, teachers and students’ numerous purposes. Moreover, people can teach and learn ESP with computers in the world and in Vietnam. So far as this section is concerned, the writer would like to discuss such main ideas as (1) computers in academic setting, (2) computers and ESP. I.2.2. Computers in academic setting Computers with Internet and word processing programmes have been used for searching, selecting and preparing materials in teaching and learning reading ESP. Both teachers and students need to equip themselves with basic computer skills. In Vietnam, students are taught basic computer skills during their 1st-year studying at university, which facilitates them when they study ESP. As a result, they can use word processing or access the Internet for ESP course. However, because some students do not possess computers, they find it rather difficult to use computers. Thus, teachers should spend some periods instructing them how to use word processing and Internet to search and prepare materials for their coming ESP lessons. Nowadays, students easily get used to surfing the Internet for chatting, e-mail exchanging, seeing web pages, playing games or listening to music. They often use Internet as a means of entertainment, not for study. Some do not know how to search and select the information of a topic. Although they are taught basic computer skills such as using word processing, they do not frequently practice typing and dealing with documents. Consequently, their computer skills are relatively not good enough to type long and complicated documents. All in all, teachers and students have to improve their computer skills if reading ESP is taught with IT. I.2.3. Computers and reading ESP I.2.3.1. Possible applications and advantages of using computer in reading ESP teaching and learning Three ideas will be mentioned and discussed: (1) model of teaching ESP reading with computers, (2) programmes used in reading ESP teaching and learning and (3) advantages of using computers in reading ESP teaching and learning. I.2.3.1.1.Model of teaching ESP reading with computers Some models of using computers in teaching FL can be applied for the past few years. They are one-computer classroom, several-computer classroom and networked classroom. The author only mentions one of them for teaching ESP reading within this thesis, one-computer classroom model. For this model of classro
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