In these years, using innovative — information technologies in schools, or universities has been raised increasingly. Since the main goal of teaching foreign languages is the formation and development of communication to nearly all over the world, using Internet resources, computer technology, multimedia or other modern technologies is considered for being best approach in teaching and the training of foreign language, especially English language. The 21st century is an information age as well as knowledge economy age. The rapid development of information technology provides us with advanced teaching means—multimedia. It is true that multimedia has many advantages in English teaching, such as offering more information, saving more time, stimulating students’ imagination and creativity, and so on. Although multimedia has many advantages, some scholars suggested that it should not be used blindly. What we should know is that multimedia just only plays an assisting role in English teaching.
Martin Peacock, head of English Product development in British Council,says ‘’Times have changed, teachers have evolved, and we now have a new breed of learning technologists. New technologies such as overhead projectors, interactive whiteboards, laptop computers and wireless internet have opened up the classroom to the outside world. Teachers who spent their lives managing with a textbook, a tape recorder and a blackboard are now adept at using PowerPoint to present grammar, playing podcasts to practice listening skills, pulling texts off the world wide web to introduce reading skills and perhaps most ground-breaking of all — empowering students by giving them access to a wide range of web-based tools that allow them to publish work and engage with live audiences in real contexts’’.
Well, what is multimedia itself ? Zhang Zeng mentioned in his research work “ Multimedia is using computers to present text, graphics, video, animation, and sound in an integrated way. When we talk about multimedia, a term CALL (Computer Assisted Language Learning) should not be ignored. Since the media can be integrated by using computer, the multimedia has close relation with CALL. Sometimes people even use CALL to stand for multimedia. Although the definition of multimedia is very simple, making it work is very complicated’’.
Various components are composed in multimedia : text, graphics, animation, sound, and video. These components can contribute differentially to the learning of material
Text is fundamental element in all multimedia applications. It conveys most information (Vaughan, 2004). We can use ordinary text or various typographic effects for emphasis or clarification in English teaching.
In order to catch the reader’s attention, teachers can use different font size, color, and style to present information; emphasize a certain word or phrase. Graphics refers to images and pictures, such as chart, diagram, and photograph, which contain no movement. According to Andrew Wright’s Book Picture for Language Learning, graphics can stimulate interesting and motivation, improve understanding ability of language, and offer especial reference object and topic (Wright, 2003). Graphics plays a very important role in language teaching process. Animation is the rapid display of a sequence of images of 2-D or 3-D artwork or model positions in order to create an illusion of movement. Simply speaking, it ranges scope from the basic graph with a simple motion to a detailed image with complex movements. Assisted by the use of animation, teachers can highlight key knowledge points and heighten students’ motivation (Vaughan, 2004). Sound is speech, music, or any other sound that is stored and produced by computers. It has more advantages than tape recorder. In multimedia, teacher can use more vivid and fruitful sound to help students’ English learning. Video is the visible part of a television transmission and broadcasts visual images of stationary or moving objects. Compared with animation, video can offer more vivid information. But it will consume more storage space than animation (Vaughan, 2004).
In traditional classroom, most English teachers are used to using some conventional equipment, such as blackboard, chalk, tape recorders, and so on. However, we can find more modern equipment in a multimedia classroom. To ensure that readers can obtain a better understanding of multimedia English teaching, an illustration of a typical one-multimedia-PC classroom setting is vital and necessary.
- MPC—multimedia personal computer;
- VCD/DVD player—video compound disk/digital video disk;
- Amplifier and Hi-Fi acoustic system;
- Overhead/slide projector;
- Projecting apparatus;
- The Internet access;
- Cassette tape recorder.
These advantages allow us to conclude that multimedia learning has great potential for teaching oral speech in other languages. Through the optimal combination of a number technology (language laboratory, video, television, radio, newspapers, magazines, books, bibliographies, and phones) and having additional features (interactivity, graphics capabilities, etc.), multimedia learning provides almost limitless opportunities for teaching and learning. Among the various types of innovation, as shown by the results of a survey conducted in the universities of the CIS, teachers are most familiar with training through the use of multimedia tools . Multimedia technology is considered to be information technology training that integrates audiovisual information in several media (text, video, audio, graphics, animation, etc.). This implements interactive dialogue with user systems and various forms of self-employment.
In today’s globalized and modern world, the society makes ever higher demands on the practical knowledge of English in everyday communication and in the professional sphere. Through the interaction with multimedia, the students become increasingly familiar with academic vocabulary and language structure. Using multimedia provides the students to gather information through media that encourages their imaginations, interests. Also it using this technology combined with the sense of teaching will create a successful teaching method.