Innovation In Language Teaching #4: Autonomy And Multimedia

Hayo Reinders

In today’s post, Professor Hayo Reinders continues his series on innovation in language teaching, asking how new types of language learning materials can actually live up to the hype that surrounds them.

This book/technology/teaching method helps to develop learner autonomy.

Many resources claim to help prepare learners for future learning, but it is not always clear how they do this. In some books, learners are given a choice of topics, to encourage them to learn independently, but in a classroom course book, this may not always be possible. Other resources commonly include a one-off needs analysis or self-assessment, without connecting the results of these to the content of the rest of the materials.

Below is a screenshot from Cambridge Discovery Reader “The Bucket List,” which shows how a slightly different approach is taken. The “critical thinking” sections occur regularly throughout the Cambridge Discovery Graded Reader series and encourage learners to consider their learning from a broader perspective. It shows learners how to ask questions about their needs, their goals, and their progress, in relation to the learning content in that unit, not in isolation.

The bucket list

The bucket list

This book/ technology/teaching method is rich in multimedia.

The benefits of presenting language input in multiple modalities are clear. Especially with graded readers, the inclusion of text, audio, and video materials is beneficial. What makes the use of multimedia innovative, however, is not simply its inclusion in a reader. This was clear in the early days of the internet, when many teachers and courses included references to online videos and websites that were not suitable in terms of level or content, or simply not connected to the rest of the course.

The pedagogical benefits of using multimedia are greatly enhanced if the materials are presented in an integrated manner, as part of a sequence of learning events. The video in the Cambridge Discovery Education Interactive Readers not only provides the essential language input, but also closely integrates with various tasks that learners complete. In addition, the video and the text are integrated. Learners do not complete the activities of watching and reading separately, but they combine different elements to the learning task at hand.

Hopefully you’ve enjoyed Professor Hayo’s series! If you’ve missed any of his articles, ensure to give them a read! 

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