Electronic devices (ED) as Tablets and Smart mobile phones can be useful as an effective studying material for English pronunciation practising.
Firstly I have to mention a few decades ago we did not use any mobile phones and the first foreign language was Russian in the Czech Republic starting at the 2 grade of Primary schools continuing at Grammar schools and Universities. We mainly used only paper books and Grammar translation method for language teaching at that time.
After the Velvet Revolution opening of borders to the west and technical new age revolution in PC technologies and mobile devices in the 90ies the language teaching and studying changed rapidly into a different direction. I think because of the movies in English, progress of English speaking countries and easy construction of this analytic language became English the first place among the other languages. Now we start to teach English as the first foreign language at kindergartens continuing to adult age. Compared to the past the prime language has changed from Russian to English and the age of students affects the range of 3 years children to 90 years adults. So, electronic devices as Tablets and Smart mobile phones can be useful as an effective studying material for English pronunciation practising for widespread population.
As the following consequence the teaching and studying methodology passed throughout many huge changes thanks to new approaches and methods, for example, Post-Method Era and Eclectic approach as a result of new technologies. Teachers use Smart boards connecting internet or off line applications to involve students in the interactive studying during the class, which is more effective than the classical Grammar translation method in the past. The other point of view takes as to the teachers themselves. Firstly we had teachers who were Russian teachers converted to English teachers with no English teaching as a foreign language teaching with very poor English pronunciation. Then came the wave of native speakers from different English speaking countries with no education as teachers. They were taken and welcomed at every school because of good pronunciation of English. However, most of those teachers didn´t know, how to teach the language. During the time Czech – English teachers got qualified, and bad native teachers terminated.
Using Smart boards and getting qualified English teachers has been done the first step into the English teaching future. I thing the second step must be logic at the student´s side by applying Tablets and Smart phones into the studying process.
I believe using electronic devices as Tablets and Smart mobile phones can be very effective for English pronunciation practising for English studying students.
On the other hand, the Tablets and mobile phones are taken in many cases as disturbing features. “For example, one teacher from Italy has asked at on-line webinar from Oxford University Press, taken place on 4, March 2014:
„How can I avoid ‚free‘ internet surfing by the pupils on their devices instead of doing the class activities? …despite lots of locked sites…“”
The devices are misused by students at schools by sending SMS as a help during the tests, internet surfing, games playing during the classes.
Diana Bannister – the Development Director for Learning Technologies at the University of Wolverhampton – answered the question: „How can I avoid ‚free‘ internet surfing by the pupils on their devices instead of doing the class activities? …despite lots of locked sites…“ during the on-line webinar: “….We get asked this quite a lot. What I would say is that, for students, it´s not necessarily a problem for them to be doing multi tasks set at one time, but it possibly is about establishing an agreement with your students and saying to them what do you thing, what do you agree is an acceptable way of learning, and I think it´s good to have an agreement where you have some time management to say: ´Yes, she can search the internet perhaps in free time, but not during our learning time´ … I think it´s also good to have a formal agreement signed by parents and students about how you organize the time for learning and to be able to keep them on task..“
I understand the teachers are against mobile phones and Tablet devices and try to find a solution. I definitely agree that devices should not be misused by students during the classes, and I find the idea of agreement between students and teachers and a formal agreement signed by parents and students, mentioned by Diana Bannister, as a good solution.
There is a very large offer from different devices and students could sit in front of the mobile screen, tablet screen, a PC screen, or TV screen for ages, which parents don´t like at all. Therefore, parents complain about lack of movements and almost zero socializing of their children.
Parents have to find an appropriate balance for their children between sitting in front of “screen” and movement and socializing, and they should be ensured that the devices are used efficiently.
Sales statistics of electronic devices for children are growing (Mobile phone – Statistics & Facts). Also, the most demanding and purchased presents last years are mainly electronic devices according to the www.tyden.cz from 13.3.2014 – Up to three quarters of children want for Christmas electronic devices.
These figures shows, those parents are involved in this developing process, and they support their children in use of electronic devices. In fact, we might expect the pupils´ and students´ use of electronic devices will be increasing in the future.
What to do if a student doesn´t own the device? Parents and students complain the students don´t have the same conditions for studying, because someone has the device and someone not. If we want to implement the English pronunciation practising per electronic devices for schools at the moment, we have to prepare two possibilities, classical paper work and electronic work. For example, a new vocabulary will be presented and read in the Smart board. The teacher gives students homework to learn the 15 new words at home. Students with ED will practice with it and students without ED will get a paper with a pronunciation transcription. So the use of ED is not compulsory, but optional.
One of the last questions during the webinar on 4, March 2014 was: “Will tablets replace paper books?” And the answer by Shaun Wilden2 was „Yes and no. I don´t know personally. There is a lot of questions we have to think about, what device I am going to use. Who will produce the apps? It is not going to happen now. But it is possible in the future..“ If we imagine, we will have at one click all stuff we need and the same at students that can make the teaching and learning process much easier.
Besides, the pronunciation teaching and studying is hard, because teachers don´t have enough time to practice and memorize the pronunciation at schools. In addition, there are very often too many students in the class, 16 and more students, with very different knowledge. When teachers figure out how to implement that at schools and the efficiency from this new communicative interaction, they will be glad to use it.
 Sources: webinar from Oxford University Press on 4, March 2014 – Your question answered on using tablets and apps in your school – answered by Diana Bannister – the Development Director for Learning Technologies at the University of Wolverhampton and Shaun Wilden Teacher Training Coordinator
Sources: Až tři čtvrtiny dětí chtějí pod stromeček technologické dárky, 11.12.2013 http://www.tyden.cz/rubriky/relax/zabava/az-tri-ctvrtiny-deti-chteji-pod-stromecek-technologicke-darky_291648.html#.UyFpMYVQ4vA
Amelie Link 2014