The argument for a pedagogy of input oriented learning for the development of speaking competence (Sharwood-Smith, 1986; Bardovi-Harlig and Salsbury, 2004; Eslami-Rasekh, 2005) has been of increasing interest in Applied Linguistics circles. It has also been argued that multimedia applications, in particular DVDs, provide language learners with multimodal representations that may help them ‘to gain broad access to oral communication both visually and auditory’ (Tschirner, 2001: 305). Thus this paper focuses on an exploratory study of teaching oral interaction through input processing by means of multimodal texts.
The paper is divided into a number of interconnected sections. First, we outline briefly what teaching conversation implies and examine the important role of oral comprehension in the development of conversational interaction. In fact, it has been suggested that effective speaking depends very much on successful understanding (Oprandy, 1994). In this paper we pay special attention to the crucial role of context in understanding oral interactions. Therefore, we outline the theory of context in English Language Teaching (ELT). The discussion draws on approaches to teaching conversation and it also offers a brief reflection about the need for materials which might convey the sociocultural and semiotic elements of oral communication through which meaning is created.
We then discuss the decisions taken to propose a new multimodal approach to teaching conversation from a three-fold perspective: (a) the selection of texts taken from films, and the benefits of using DVDs (digital versatile disc); (b) the development of a multimodal analysis of film clips for the design of activities; and (c) the promotion of a conversation awareness methodology through a bank of DVD clips to achieve an understanding of how native speakers actually go about the process of constructing oral interactions.
In sum, the main thrust of this paper is to pinpoint the advantages of using multimodal materials taken from DVDs, as they provide learners with broad access to oral communication, both visual and auditory, making classroom conditions similar to the target cultural environment (Tschirner, 2001).