The article describes an experience of testing a dynamic usage-based approach of teaching foreign languages, based on usage-based theory of language acquisition and the dynamic approach to second language acquisition. In this teaching approach the students, for example, are shown a multimedia material in fragments, each fragment is shown several times and is accompanied by a specific assignment. The lesson structure is given in the article.
Keywords: attention, psychology of attention, multimedia material, foreign languages, foreign language teaching, teaching methodology, memory, usage-based approach, dynamic approach.
In many countries, foreign languages are often taught using a grammatical-translation method or a communicative approach. At the same time, the foreign language course itself can last several semesters or the entire period of study.
An indirect consequence of applying the same techniques throughout the training may be the repetition of lesson structures and types of exercises. In language universities, where students often learn two or three foreign languages at the same time, this can lead to monotony and reduce the student's attention, and cause difficulties in memorizing and learning. Reflecting on this problem, in this article we have carefully considered the use of multimedia materials in teaching foreign languages according to the approach developed at the University of Groningen. We will start with a description of the cognitive model of the learning process and the role of attention and memory in it, then go on to describe the approach itself, its theoretical foundations and connections with the cognitive model.
The most pragmatic way to describe the process of learning a foreign language is the cognitive model of learning, which divides the learning process into 3 stages-input — input of information) — intake (encoding and organizing information to transfer it to long — term memory) — output (recall, recall of the necessary information from memory). Each of these stages has its own patterns, the use of which helps to make the learning process quite productive.
At the input stage, the most important thing is to manage the attention of students. According to the definition of L. S. Vygotsky [1, pp.108–128], attention is the fixation of certain content in the central field of consciousness. At the same time, there is a distinction between involuntary (passive) attention and voluntary (active) attention.
A. N. Leontiev [2, p. 277] suggested that the nature of attention is related to activity. Performing simple actions (watching a multimedia material clip, listening to a song, discussing an important issue) has a much higher potential in terms of attention stability than simply memorizing words or phrases without emotion. Also, monotony dampens attention [5, p.705]. As soon as the action becomes habitual, attention does not stop working, but switches to other objects. For this reason, it is important to introduce new objects of attention all the time in each lesson fragment. Simple repetition is monotonous and from the point of view of the psychology of attention does not give results, because students are distracted by extraneous things.
At the take stage, an important role is played by processing information, structuring it for the purpose of memorization. If we consider the delayed playback of information as memory, then we can associate the «take» stage (the memory process itself) with the «output» stage (playback). The division of these stages can be carried out according to the result of memorization.
For example, S. L. Rubinstein [5, p. 705] distinguished recognition and free reproduction as a result of the action of memory mechanisms. In foreign language teaching methods, this is often referred to as passive proficiency and active use of the language. From Rubinstein's point of view, the main factors influencing the mechanisms of memorization are associative connections and semantic connections. An important role is played by the structural design of the stored information [4, p. 85]. In our case, this is memorizing phrases in ready-made grammatical structures. At the same time, it is important to use grammatical structures already learned, the use of which is not difficult. Or, on the contrary, the introduction of a new grammatical model, namely a model, not a rule, on a known lexical material and in a familiar context with a high degree of frequency. P. P. Zinchenko [2, pp. 141–171.] showed that involuntary memorization associated with an emotional background can be stronger than arbitrary memorization. Smirnov [6, p.423] provides experimental data indicating that involuntary memorization in the process of activity (without a special installation " remember») stronger, i.e. the amount of information played back is twice as much with delayed playback as arbitrary memorization with an explicit remembers setting. The approach described in this article was developed several years ago at the University of Groningen and was called a dynamic usage-based approach.
The lesson built according to this approach has the following structure:
- Students watch a fragment of the multimedia material and answer two or three questions on the general content.
- Students are explained some words or phrases from the fragment to facilitate understanding. The fragment is shown a second time.
- Students are given the text of the fragment (dialogue). The teacher and students discuss some words or phrases that may be incomprehensible or that may be useful to students in the future. The fragment is shown for the third time, this time students follow the dialogue through the text.
Several fragments could be played and analyzed in one lesson. Choose words and phrases should be guided by common sense. For example, students of a general English course of intermediate or higher-intermediate level are better off learning the phrase «to take a short cut» than «a spring-loaded trap». Students are also encouraged to work independently when they choose the phrases they need at home and memorize them.
This approach is based on the conventional theory of language acquisition, according to which the language structure of the language arises as a result of the use of language. It is also based on a dynamic approach to the study of second language acquisition. In the framework of the dynamic approach, the language is considered as a complex of systems and subsystems. When learning a language, subsystems can alternatively compete or support each other, i.e. sometimes grammar develops faster, sometimes vocabulary. At the same time, at a certain level, the development of one system is suspended, and another begins to develop, with the support of the first. So, theoretically, when a sufficient number of commonly used phrases (or lexical chunks) are typed, the grammatical system supported by the lexical one begins to develop.
When using multimedia materials, the student gets access to authentic language material, where the language and manner of speech are close to those used by native speakers. By playing actors or speakers, students can understand what is happening, especially in the early stages of language learning. Repeating fragments allows students to focus on different aspects of the material each time: first on the general meaning of what is happening, then on phrases, then on pronunciation, etc. repetition also allows students to identify phrases, words, or idiomatic phrases that are necessary for the formation of vocabulary and communicative competence.
The use of multimedia materials allows students to form associative and semantic connections between the vocabulary and the multimedia material, which in turn helps memorization [5, p.705]. Returning to what we wrote earlier about attention, viewing fragments with different tasks at each repetition can maintain students ' attention and interest. The same role is played by gradually watching one multimedia material for the entire course, we can say that this will have the effect of a series, i.e. students will want to follow the development of the plot and watch each fragment as if it were a series. Constant access to an authentic language can also trigger involuntary memorization.
Returning to our thesis that students can get tired and lose interest from constantly using the same teaching method, we can add that the inclusion of a new approach that is different from the communicative or grammatical-translational one, the clear allocation of lessons with this method in the general course and the explanation of its goals and objectives to students can increase their interest and motivation, as well as bring diversity to the learning process.
So, in this article, we have described a dynamic, conventional approach to teaching a foreign language, using multimedia materials. This approach, it seems to us, stimulates the memorization of language, especially vocabulary, keeps students ' attention and motivates them. In the future, it is necessary to conduct further empirical studies with control groups and compare the effectiveness of different approaches and methods.
- Vygotsky L. C. Psychology and pedagogy of attention / Pedagogical psychology. Moscow: Pedagogika, 1991. — pp. 108–128.
- Zinchenko P. I. Involuntary memorization and activity / Involuntary memorization. Moscow, 1961 — — pp. 141–171.
- Leontiev A. N. Development of memory. Experimental study of higher mental functions, Moscow: State Educational and Pedagogical Publishing House, 1931, 277 p.
- Luria A. R. A small book about big memory. Moscow: Moscow Publishing House. un-ta, 1968. — 85 p.
- Rubinstein S. L. Fundamentals of general psychology. Moscow, 2012. — 705 p.
- Smirnov A. A. Problems of the psychology of memory. Moscow: Prosveshchenie, 1966. — 423 p.Ellis N. C. The dynamics of second language emergence: cycles of language use, language change, and language acquisition // Modern Language Journal, 2008. № 92(2).