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Case Study 4.3: English for Advertising

on Sat, 04/22/2017 - 16:20

 

Case Study 4.3: English for Advertising

The students

The course participants are aged between 25 and over 30 and there are around 32

on each course. The level of English of the students is quite good because they have

been studying English since primary school. They are all professionals with daytime

jobs and, therefore, studying at college is a demanding task. They usually choose this

course because it has relevance to their professions (e.g. business administration,

marketing and sales, and international trading).

 

The context

English for Advertising is a blended 18-week (one semester) elective course students

in their third year can take for two credits.

The course has three main aims:

1. to familiarise students with basic advertising concepts

2. to allow students to implement in practice what they have learned, by producing

print, radio, and television commercials; and by doing so:

3. to improve their English language skills.

As can be seen, this is a content and language integrated learning course (CLIL),

which is typical for many ESP courses.

Materials and technology used

The following Web 2.0 tools are used:

Yahoo! Groups, a blog, PowerPoint, Slideshare (a platform for publishing

presentations), GoogleDocs, document archiving service (e.g. thinkfree.com), online

video servers (e.g. Blip.tv, YouTube).

Offline tools:

Digital audio and video recorders, media player, editing software such as Windows

MovieMaker, other types of multimedia tools.

Types of activities the technologies (and materials) are used for and their

relevance for the learner

Yahoo! Groups is an online discussion platform that can be accessed online or via

email and is used as an online learning platform for discussions and general course

communication, and to archive files such as learning materials and course syllabi. At the

same time, it helps build rapport among students and between them and the teacher.

The class blog serves as a publishing platform to present students’ work to a wider

audience and as a portfolio. Additionally, it is used by the teacher as a place to

publish certain learning materials which students use in or outside the classroom.

Some student or teacher-created materials like images, PowerPoint slides, or videos

need to be uploaded to a special service before they can be embedded in a blog.

For this purpose, Slideshare.com, GoogleDocs, and Blip.tv or YouTube are used.

By connecting the Yahoo! Group email address with the blog, students get automatic

notifications when there is a new blog publication.

‘Web 2.0 tools provide a virtual extension of the classroom where students can learn

and showcase their creativity to the rest of the world.’4

The digital media and tools used offline on the computer are used to create radio

and television commercials. Transferring and sharing files is made easy because of

the digital format. Because of this, and the relatively inexpensive and readily available

4 The quotations in this section are from the teachers interviewed for this case study.

108 | Technology-integrated English for Specific Purposes lessons tools, digital audio and video ‘have a great impact on language learning, particularly

in enhancing students’ oral and communicative competence by producing authentic

language in the form of digitally recorded materials.’

Producing commercials is a task that demands good collaboration among students

in order to be successfully accomplished, which helps the students to learn through

interacting with each other.

‘The task process begins with pre-task activities where students participate in

lectures and discussions of advertising samples. It is also during this time that

language and learning objectives, task guidelines, requirements, and criteria for

assessments are given to students. In the second stage, students brainstorm, plan,

and gather sufficient information to help them pin down their topic and task strategy.

The next step is to implement the creative execution. In this stage students engage in

copywriting, preparing the storyboard (for television), producing the advertisement,

and writing their report paper (...). The third stage is the presentation, where they

present their final projects, and the final stage is the assessment, where students

are evaluated based on the quality of their presentation, report paper, and the

collaborative execution of their project (...). Throughout the process, students use the

English language to learn the content while learning how to use it to communicate/

express their ideas.’

In order to work together efficiently and produce a commercial, the students had

to engage in effective communication, which took place in English. This helped

them practise the target language and thus meet the language aim of the course.

Course and technology evaluation

‘Task assessment is done using the students’ report paper, audio/video commercial

materials, a scoring rubric given during the workshop, and notes taken during the

presentations. The feedback I provide is based on the criteria stipulated on the

scoring rubric and how successfully the students met the task requirements

(both technical and language skills) and the overall quality of their commercials.’

Usability and constraints of the technology

Compared to the other case studies, especially the first one, this course employs a

wide range of online and offline tools. This means that students need some training in

using them, although, being young professionals, they might be familiar with at least

some of them. Given the duration of the course, and the aims of the course, which

include learning how to produce advertisements, a short technical training workshop

seems justifiable and acceptable for the students.

Attitudes of students and institution towards the technology

The students had to write a report based on seven questions, one of which was about

the technology used in the course. According to some of the comments, the students

thought that it was ‘fun to learn something new … to be able to create a short film by

Technology-integrated English for Specific Purposes lessons | 109

using IT’ and ‘easy to handle’. Another student commented that ‘by practising to be a

good voice over, we can enhance our fluency of speaking. By writing scripts for

TV and radio commercials, we can enhance our writing skills and creativeness.’

There was no collaboration with other colleagues and ‘support from colleagues

is hard to find’. As it is not a research project, the course is not supported by the

institution either.

Mobile learning

Mobile technologies have not been integrated in any of the case studies explicitly,

although they might have been used by the students to access online course

materials, the internet and podcasts, but they are worth mentioning briefly here as

they are more and more widespread and very relevant for many ESP and Business

English students, who often need as much flexibility as possible in their courses.

The technology is readily available for no extra cost and ESP learners use them daily

in their professional lives, mostly in the form of mobile or smartphones and iPods,

but also in the form of tablet PCs such as the iPad, which means they do not need

much training in how to use the technology itself. In addition, many business students

will have a mobile phone plan, often paid for by their employer, that allows them to

access the internet or send short messages without incurring any extra costs.

Many ESP or Business English students are frequent travellers. With modern

smartphones, they can use downtime, such as time at the airport, to go through

learning material, listen to a podcast, leave a comment on a forum discussion,

or reply to an email from their tutor (for example, with feedback on a task).

There are more and more specific language tools available for learners, who can

use these tools to practise grammar, note down and review vocabulary, look up

words, etc. However, particularly for ESP students, the more interesting uses of

mobile technology will be, as above, 1) for simulations of real work situations and

2) for accessing learning material, podcasts, and internet resources, wherever

students happen to be and whenever they want to. Most importantly, however, mobile

technology allows for a situated learning approach because learning can take place

in the student’s actual work environment. In the Taxi English course mentioned

above, I created mini podcasts as a summary of our face-to-face lessons to give extra

listening practice, which the taxi drivers could listen to during downtime while waiting

for the next passenger. This means they were in their work place, at the taxi rank or

in their taxis, where the conversations recorded in the podcasts actually take place.

As with any other technology, mobile technologies are most effective when they are

integrated into a course rather than used haphazardly, so that students understand

their value and see the relevance to their course (Edirisingha, Salmon and Fothergill,

2007; Kukulska-Hulma and Sharpless, 2009; Palalas, 2011).

110 | Technology-integrated English for Specific Purposes lessons Blended learning – integrating technology

In all three case studies in this chapter, the courses are designed taking a blended

learning approach. There is a mix of face-to-face and online learning and of

synchronous (e.g. Skype, video conferencing rooms) and asynchronous (e.g.

discussion groups, blogs, learning management systems) communication tools.

According to research into ESP blended learning, careful planning and integration

of online and face-to-face components are important (Arnó-Macià, 2012). Garrison

and Kanuka (2004) assert that a careful blend of asynchronous and synchronous

communication tools and integration of other tools used in a course can

enhance learning.

In ESP courses, blended learning has been adopted early as it can be particularly

appropriate for Business English or ESP learners because it gives them flexibility in

where and when they learn (Arnó-Macià, 2012). At the same time, it allows teachers

to create highly specialised courses, which would be difficult to arrange in a faceto-

face class due to the low number of students (Garrett, 2009). Teachers can also

offer self-access materials online, or supplement the coursebook with extra authentic

materials that are more relevant to their students (Krajka, 2003), thus being more

responsive to their needs (Garrett, 2009). The concept of responsiveness can also

relate to the course design, the tools, methodologies and activities used (Tudor, 1996

in White, 2007: 322) and what kind of blend is chosen. It focuses on various ‘aspects

of individual learners’ such as their learning styles and strategies, interests, and their

contributions (White, 2007: 322).

In other words, in the ESP context, teachers need to take a flexible approach,

which is also regarded as one of the features of education in the third millennium

(Felix, 2005). Collis and Moonen (2002) list five dimensions of flexibility: programme,

study material, location, forms of communication, and types of interaction.

Blended learning can allow teachers to be flexible in all five of these dimensions.

Besides the benefits mentioned so far, blended courses can additionally help learners

in developing ‘autonomy, out-of-class learning, self-assessment, individualization’

(Trinder, 2006: 192), and learning or enhancing their electronic literacy skills

(Arnó-Macià, 2012).

In the three cases, several benefits of a blended approach can be seen. In the first

case, it allows for flexibility in location. In Case Study 4.2, Viola argues that ‘blended

learning/teaching has proved more successful than just f2f or just online’. She adds

that ‘it has the advantage of human contact and interaction; and technology provides

tools to encourage autonomous learning. Most importantly, it helps simulate workrelated

situations.’ Yeh points out that ‘the integration of digital media and Web 2.0

tools into a traditional face-to-face platform creates an optimal learning environment

for language learning.’

Drawbacks

Blended learning can also have some disadvantages such as the need to invest

in more resources (e.g. financial, human, technical) (Garrison and Kanuka, 2004;

Technology-integrated English for Specific Purposes lessons | 111

Littlejohn, 2004). The English for Advertising course shows how complex such a

blend can sometimes be. It can be time-consuming to create such courses, and

teachers need to have some technical knowledge and training, and have access

to particular technologies.

It is essential for institutions and teachers to consider these and other issues

before setting up a technology-integrated blended course and to find ways to

make it sustainable (Garrison and Kanuka, 2004; Littlejohn, 2004).