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.
Children of the Digital Age May 2, 2013
My youngest child (we’ll call her Little E) received an iPad for her 5th birthday almost a year ago. Sure, it may seem a bit extravagant to you, but she is a child of the Digital Age. She knew how to type her name before she could write it. Both of my children will never know a world without computers, iPhones, iPads, XBOXs, etc. Our family embraces technology because we use it for work and school, but more importantly because chances are our children will have a job someday in a technology-based field. Little E’s Kindergarten class has been getting ready for Cinco de Mayo, and she has been telling me all about the dances and pretty dresses – pretty normal for a little girl. Over dinner last night, she began asking me how to say some things in Spanish because her class is learning a few words. I answered what I could, but what I could not, she said she would just ask her iPad later. Clever girl! When she finished dinner, she ran off to her room to play. After I cleaned up the kitchen and headed to my room to grade some papers, she brought me a piece of paper (pictured below). She said she asked her iPad how to say “I love you” in Chinese and copied the characters to give to me. I was so touched, I cried with joy. But then it dawned on me how powerful technology really is. I would not have been able to do this as a child. Children of the Digital Age have so much knowledge available to them!