tech-ucation reformation

Goodbye overheads and chalkboards! Hello virtual "paperless" classrooms!

How Do You Pronounce This Word? June 26, 2014

I am quite skeptical of this week’s focus in my Multimedia in Technology Applications class.  We are focusing on reworking our instruction sets into audio-only instructions.  I just do not feel that audio without any text or visual scaffolding will be effective.  Too many issues and misunderstandings could come up; for example, as with accents and dialects.  Although I have lived in Texas for more than 15 years, the Deep South influence can still be heard in my speech.  And a recent trip to New York City proved I can pick up a New Jersey accent within a few days, much to the surprise of my students when I returned.  I’m talking here . . . forget about it!  I have a few videos I show my students with Australian and Eastern Indian narrators; they complain about not being able to understand the narrators even though English is being spoken.  The cognitive demand is just too high . . . the reason I bombed Calculus in college was because I didn’t have enough experience listening to a Pakistani speak English to understand what he was explaining.  Because I am switching back to an ESL position at my campus, I have been reflecting personally on all the second language acquisition concepts I will need to cover this next school year, and it seems there is just too much room for error in the English language for students to be presented with only audio instructions.  Just consider basic homophones and homographs; homonyms could be included but to a lesser extent since understanding the meaning relies more on context rather than seeing or hearing the word.  Regardless, these are just one example of how confusing English can be to even native speakers resulting in years of study even though college.  I mean seriously, my husband and I have been arguing over the correct pronunciation of the word bury for years . . . and we are both correct!  And let’s not even get into figurative language . . . that’s another blog post entirely!  Sure, my students get used to my voice and speech after a while, but what about the push to break down the classroom walls and share knowledge around the world.  I want students in India to access my website and learn about constructing circuits, but will they struggle with understanding my Southern draw?  I need them to see the text and the graphics too!  However, it works in reverse too.  I see the benefit of providing audio along with text as a way to support my future ESL students.  They NEED to hear how new and unfamiliar words are pronounced.  I cannot tell you how many times I have heard my son mispronounce words he has read in books because he had never heard the words before.  Until someone corrects him, he will continue to pronounce the word incorrectly and may not even recognize the correct pronunciation if it were only presented audibly.

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