Saturday, March 16, 2013

Week 9: Reading and Vocabulary

This week we discussed CALL activities for teaching Reading and Vocabulary.  In our class discussions it was not hard to come up with lists of how we can use technology in the L2 reading and vocabulary class-- the internet provides authentic texts for students to read, smart phones and tablets provide easy access to dictionaries and translators, and concordance lines from corpora  help students discover the meanings of new words.  Many of us use these technologies daily in our classrooms and know they can be convenient and motivating for students.   However, I was not aware of the translating application discussed in Chun’s article that provides students with a multiple-choice question for the correct translation of a word.  Rather than merely reading a translation and moving on, when students click on a word (at least I'm assuming that's how it works), they are provided with two different translations and must choose the correct one for the word in context.  Learners are then provided with feedback as to whether or not they chose the correct word.  Chun notes that this encouraged deeper lexical processing.  Although in one sense the use of a multiple-choice question may slow learners’ reading, it may also speed up the reading process if learners are able to grasp the correct meaning of a word rather than trying to comprehend a passage with the wrong meaning in mind.  It seems this would also work well for a dictionary that provides L2-to-L2 definitions.  I’m wondering how the translating program works if there is no direct translation for a word.  It also makes me wonder how a multiple-choice translator or dictionary would impact learners’ strategies for “regular” translation and dictionary use in the future.  Would it make them question the accuracy or appropriateness of their conventional translators?  Would they be more likely to read all the definitions in a dictionary entry rather than just reading the first definition and moving on? Another thing I appreciated about Chung’s article was its organization.  She began by outlining Grabe’s implications for reading instruction from reading research (e.g., ensuring fluency in word recognition and activating background knowledge) and then aligned CALL studies with those categories of implications.  In our disussions of CALL and SLA a few weeks ago, we talked about the importance of placing CALL research within larger SLA frameworks, and so I appreciated the way CALL research was situated within existing implications from research.  This provides an organizational framework for synthesizing both CALL and non-CALL reading and vocabulary research.  

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