Media. We all use it. We all love it. And are all consumed by it. However, what is the role of media in the classroom? We know what the role of media is in our lives -entertainment, information, communication-but what is the best way for it to be harnessed within the classroom as a tool to aid students in learning English?
It is my opinion that examples of media and media devices should be used to help motivate the student to communicate in English whenever possible to form better friendships in the classroom. With this in mind, using media to better establish friendships through English, I will talk about three different ways that media can be incorporated into the classroom in fun ways that will encourage students to want to communicate with their friends.
Because “media” is such a broad term, it umbrellas over many types of media; movies, TV, music, technology, social networking, news, advertising, to name a few. The beauty of incorporating media is that students often already have formed clear opinions on what they like and what they don’t like in media, making it easier for them to engage in conversations or discussions on the different types of media they enjoy. Because of this it is to both the student’s advantage and the teacher’s advantage to somehow incorporate media into the English-speaking classroom curriculum. Media can be engaged not only for tasks and activities, but also for projects and presentations, as we will look at in just a moment.
One of the simplest ways to incorporate media is by getting the students to use their smartphone to access a website. It is very easy to for teachers to generate a QR code that the students must scan to begin their task. Most students probably have a QR code reader on their cell phone or smartphone, if they don’t, they can very easily and quickly download one for free. Teachers can generate codes that will take students to specific websites or offer up specific questions created by the teacher for them to discuss in pairs or groups. The students enjoy not knowing what they will find once they scan the code and they of course also get the thrill of being able to use their gadgets in class. If a teacher didn’t have access to a projector, they could also easily print the QR code onto a piece of paper. A simple QR code generator is available here: http://goqr.me. The beauty of this is that each student can use their own smartphone to access the content, just as they would if they were using their own textbook. Everyone likes playing with their smart phone these days and this gives the students a guided opportunity to use it in class as a valuable tool.
Another useful way to incorporate media is by using Language Cloud at Languagecloud.co. This is a free service that allows teachers to generate curriculum, store media and also produce quizzes and tests. Grading can also be done online. Language Cloud offers online resources that can be accessed on the computer, tablet or smartphone-in class or outside of class. The QR codes mentioned earlier could lead directly to this site or you could even have a QR code on the website for the students to access as part of a homework assignment. For example, you could show a TV clip in class to demonstrate specific examples of a verb. Students then access Language Cloud on their smart phone to take a quiz about the media clip in or after class. Additionally, Language Cloud is now in the process of building a marketplace for teachers to buy and sell teacher generated content.
Finally, one of the most exciting uses of media I use in my own classroom is at the end of the semester in the form of a presentation connected to advertising. Instead of having a test, the students have a final assessment in the form of a poster presentation. Before the presentation, students spend time looking at different advertisements and even creating their own product and an advertisement for it. Students can easily search online for ads, but there is also a nice advertisement database at: coloribus.com/adsarchive/prints. For the presentation though, students choose one product that is manufactured by three different companies and they then analyze the techniques used in the advertising of each product. So, for example, if a student chooses sports shoes, they would then look at three different advertisements by companies such as Nike, Puma and Adidas to see what techniques they use to sell shoes and also how the language is used in the advertisement. This is the final presentation of the semester and so throughout the semester they have had practice asking and sharing opinions about different forms of media as well as giving presentations. This type of presentation is very effective as it allows students to not only engage media content, but also create media content for the classroom, if you will.
So, what is the role of media in the classroom? Well, because media plays a strong role in our life, I believe it can play a strong role in the classroom as well. It’s a role that should be a tool though. Media should give students the opportunity to discuss what media they enjoy and why as a means to build and strengthen friendships in the classroom, because who better to talk about media with than your friends?
Maek Post teaches part-time at Kinki University, Momoyama University and Osaka Fudai University. He has a Masters in Applied Linguistics from the University of Birmingham, UK with interests in media and Critical Discourse Analysis. He is also the editor of Beer Zen: Journal for Craft Beer, a quarterly publication that discusses the craft beer scene in Japan and helps promote the availability of domestic and import craft beer (beerzenjournal.com).