The Problems and the Tactics of Multimedia in English and A-merican Literature Teaching

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The Problems and the Tactics of Multimedia in English and A-merican Literature Teaching




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The Problems and the Tactics of Multimedia in English and American Literature Teaching

Mao Yu-e

【Abstract】Nowadays, the debate on the merits and demerits of the multimedia teaching was sharp. This paper emphasizes on the multimedia in “English and American Literature” teaching. Based on the author’s own experience and perspective, the problems in the “English and American Literature” teaching are listed for the purpose of comprehensive attention. Although with the help of multimedia the teachers’ primitive role is changing, the students’ interest in multimedia is fading bit by bit. The students can not accept so much information in the limited time. Multimedia confines the teaching activity only to the class. It also confines the students’ creative thinking. The problems are presented to initiate further discussion. Besides the visible problems, some hidden problems are waiting for more studies. The author thinks they will be well advised. The students will benefit from the new tactics towards solving the existing problems, including transfer the students’ interest, efficiency of teaching, controlling of the volume, extension of the course, combination of the textbook and the multimedia and the diversified thinking pattern. The effectiveness of the strategies can be obtained by practical experiments.

【Key words】Multimedia;Courseware;Textbook;Tactics

1. Introduction

Multimedia teaching in English is going through rapid development and improvement.

Multimedia is the combination of text, animated graphics video and sound. It steps into the English class completely. Multimedia presents new opportunities and challenges. The problems existing in the English class has become obvious, so there is the necessity for the discussion of this topic. Every thing has two sides, the bright side and the dark side. It seems the problems are unavoidable, but we still need to minimize the shortcoming by improving the technology or shortening the distance between the teacher and the students. Depending on the improvement gained from the practical experiences, the English teaching can obtain marvelous effect. Although the multimedia is motionless, the teacher can add color to the wordless machine. Compared with the face to face teaching, the multimedia teaching gets the high popularity. Our final goal is to accept the multimedia teaching completely.

2. The existing problems in multimedia teaching

2.1The students lose interest bit by bit

We can see a danger of teacher and students become so wrapped up in the multimedia that they pay more attention to the superficial satisfaction than to the actual content. Many teachers are so taken with the novelties such as flashing text that they insist on using them on their course sites. Even though they do nothing to enhance or inform the course content. However, we believe we will soon reach the point where people stop adding flashy animations and graphics simply. Because they can and start including only these items that help to engage people in the content.

In modern period of American literature, Ezra Pound, a leading spokesman of the “Imagist Movement” was one of the most important poets in his time. Pound’s one image poem “In a station of the Metro” serves as typical example of the imagist ideas.

The apparition of these faces in the crowd;

Petals on a wet, black bough.

This is an observation of the poet of human faces seen in a Paris subway station, which is supernatural and invisible. In some multimedia class, in order to gain a vivid vision, the computer, TV set or projector will show this scream visibly. So image will lose its original function. The curiosity of image will disappear. The multimedia seems provide the video, sound and animated graphics, which seems the students can fully satisfy. In fact it is a failure. Furthermore, the multimedia can only arouse the students’ attention temporarily

2. 2The teacher becomes the projector.

Many students used to expect that the course would be supplemented fully by the multimedia. Later the student quit this expectation. Before the study of this topic, we should enter into the definition of teacher. The teacher is the person who gives introduction to the students and causes the students to know something and be able to do something. Teaching is a demanding profession. The implement of the multimedia in the literature teaching largely change the role of the teacher. The involvement of the students into the class is greatly affected too.

German educational expert said that, to the youth’s soul the teacher’s personal quality is the most useful sunshine.①Knowledgeable, resourceful teacher with great personality have the power to inspire. Standardized pronunciation, beautiful writing and current expression lay intangible introduction to the students. How about the project shower? If the course goes smoothly, the students conclude the teacher is professional in project showing. The multimedia also isolates the teacher and the students. Eye contact is encouragement for the teacher to perform themselves. But the students’ eye balls are completely attracted by the machine.

In 2000 Zhang Lei and Yang Shengguo promoted the principles of study in the class② Cooperation is a key principle between the teacher and the students also among the students. Traditionally, the volume and the profundity largely depend on the response of the students. In American literature modern period, “the red thirties” is a new phrase for some students. Some teachers design the courseware without the definition. If the students do not actively participate in the class, the confusion is still confusion. In the traditional class the student’s puzzled face at the phrase of “the red thirties” is the signal for further explanation. The multimedia just set an obstacle between the teacher and the students. So in the traditional teaching, their relation is harmonious and stable. But the original purpose of the multimedia is enhancing the communication between them rather than take the place of mutual communication.

For thousands of years, reading the paper materials plays the leading role in teaching and learning. On the contrary, reading the lines on the computer, TV set or the projector is unusual for the modest Chinese. Nerve linguists indicate that the left brain emphasizes on reading paper materials, meanwhile, the right brain emphasizes on the line of computer. So overuse of the multimedia challenge the traditional thinking and image pattern. Multimedia research shows reading paper materials is highly efficient.

3. Tactics to solve the problems

3.1The transfer of students’ interest

Transfer the students’ interest from the curiosity of designed courseware to the content. Employment of the PPT makes the courseware superficially beautiful. Some teachers insisted on the approach of “perfect design of the courseware can attract the students’ eye ball”. But the superficial perfect attracts the students’ attention temporarily and fades easily. It requires that the teacher avoid and reduce “marvelous” layout and affection of design. The teachers should direct the students to the essence of the lecture. Once the students are full of energy, distraction is extremely far away from the students.

Though multimedia can present visual-sound-animation relevant to the course, it is not equivalent to high quality teaching. The teacher should employ some tactics apart from multimedia, for example, to leave time for the students to imagination. As to the Ezra Pound’s one image poem “In a Station of Metro”, firstly, the teacher appreciates the poem and shares the mood, touches the feeling of the author and enjoys the writing principles, the direct treatment of the subjects, the faces, the petal and the bough. Pound eliminated the merely ornamental or superfluous and wrote the poem with words 14 words and 3 marks, and most importantly outlines the vivid picture in everyone’ mind and the rhythm in the sequence of the musical phrase rather than in the sequence of the metronome. After the full image and appreciation, the presentation of the screen is greatly in demand. The one image poem is more effective to master through the multimedia. Moreover, in order to broaden the students’ horizon, the teacher can add or download similar poems for practice. Otherwise, we just improve the machine intelligence. It is a grand reformation of our strategies by keeping the students in the mood of study.

The students are becoming more critical and more discerning about multimedia teaching. They want more than draw them to the site. Compared to the face to face course, the teacher are less engaged .Multimedia needs to be intellectually compelling and use multimedia effectively if they are to keep the students’ interest.

3.2The efficiency of teaching

Adopting the audio-visual-animation approach makes the students and the teacher fully involved in the course. Glimpsing at the future of the multimedia, the teacher should be more expertise. Because they are the conductor of this project, communication and group learning. But everyone is not at the same level of expertise and has not had the same technological experiences. Individuals’ comfort in using certain technologies will vary so the teacher should be trained intensively. For example, as to the use of plug-in, those who are very knowledge about internet and computer may not have any problems downloading a plug-in, however those who do have not reach that comfort level will miss out on many sites that require plug-in.

Based on current achievement, the teachers should cooperate with the students rather than the machine.

Daniel Defoe’s adventures story “Robinson Crusoe” is in the spirit of that time. After the appreciation of the excerpt from “Robinson Crusoe”, what are the characters of the Robison Crusoe is the must question. Either the teacher or the multimedia is not the center of the course, but the students. Animation has become so advanced that the scream is lifelike. We can get a real view of Robison Crusoe, how he struggled to live for twenty-four years. He cut down the big tree and toughly shaped the tree into a ship, but still in vain to bring the ship to the sea. He only communicated with the nature. After the vivid pictures, the teacher raises this question and asks volunteers about their answers, which may include brave, optimistic, resourceful, and patient. So that Robinson Crusoe’ characters lay remarkable impression. We still need to improve the audio-video-animation quality and take every step seriously to achieve sophisticated achievement over medium. We should make the multimedia go further. The teaching staff is encouraged to undertake large multimedia projects. Otherwise the “English and American Literature’ teaching will overreach itself. People are seeking more efficient and effective way to distinguish multimedia teaching from the traditional teaching. To foster the interest in the literature for the students, the teacher should pay more attention to the courseware package. These include:

Engagement-the ability to captivate and retain learner interest

Access-the ability to provide ready and simple access to the information

Clarification-the ability to provide alternative explanation or examples

Practice-the ability to provide practical opportunities for skill development.

For the “English and American literature” teaching, engagement mainly reflects some suspension and disbelief of some common saying.

To the course “William Shakespeare” warm up question will be like this, why is Shakespeare regarded as one of the most remarkable playwright and poet in the world? Does he enjoy the same reputation as Confucius? Comparison of the achievements, environments and the style between the two giants will retain the students’ interest. This kind of question is a new creation for discussion. Well organized answers will guide the students to the content easily.

The freedom of access is greatly needed.

Clarification is the link of suspension and the answer, which also requires refinement and full discussion. While the teacher clarifies the question bit by bit the students compare their own answers with the teacher’s answers. Obviously, before clarification, discussion between the students is a vital factor for a successful course. Experience indicates discussion before clarification serves as the criteria of successful course. Students’ motivation and guide are the hot topic. Well reading the objectives of the statement, overview of the whole text and a map of content organization are strongly in demand before the discussion.

William Shakespeare’ “the Merchant of Venice” is very famous. What’s the theme of it? Appreciation of the excerpt of “the Merchant of Venice” can be carried out with the help of the graph which shows the double plot as follows:

Antonio ———lend money to——Bassanio——marriage——Portia

Antonio——borrow money from (a pound of flesh)——Shylock

The teacher can motivate the students to identify the theme by the double plot logically. The first plot reflects the friendship between Antonio and Bassanio. The second plot reflects the antithesis between Antonio and Shylock. The two plots make the conclusion easily obtained:

A: friendship and wisdom of loyal and beautiful Portia

B Shylock: insatiable, greed, cruelty and brutality.

Practice is a kind of reputation and simulation and also a signal of completion. Practice is the further discussion or the deep clarification of the problems to extend to other context and to seek the link between similarities.

From the above four characteristics, it is to say the role of the teacher beyond the professional project shower and is not redundant. They remain a strong demand to guide, facilitate in the learning process. This kind of self-contained courseware package shifts the onus more onto the teacher. The focus of must be on the needs of the students. I hope the teacher lead the students to the final theme of the study.

3.3Controlling the capacity

To transfer pressure to pleasure, it lies in controlling the quantity. Highlight the key points and stress on the difficult ones. Controlling the volume directly relates to the quality of “English and American Literature” teaching. The quality of teaching is flexing the minds of many universities. The universities continues to make the fund available to ensure that quality in learning and teaching needs to be identified and distinguished from other sorts of teaching and learning. We should rethink about the role of the multimedia, a tool or a teacher? Too much volume in the class is against the principles of teaching.

Employment of multimedia greatly increases the quantity. A clicking of the button, a whole slide will be presented on the scream. Compared with the primitive tool chalk, multimedia assists the teachers a lot in fulfilling the requirement of efficiency. But slide by slide, the students do not have enough time to digest it. However, the students can benefit a lot from the small chalk, note taking, remembering new words and comprehending the ideas. This kind of learning is the most effective way. Furthermore, the multimedia can deliver as many information as possible, the social background, life career, literary career main achievement and appreciation of the excerpt. Every party is comprehensive. The students and the teacher are isolated by much information. The classroom is largely silent. The students have one voice that we want something to intrigue our potential interest. But piles of information black the motivation. Do not exaggerate the function of the multimedia and use the multimedia indiscriminately. Courseware designing should play emphasis on key points and difficulty and delete wearisome information. Especially the social background, life career, literature career, the teacher can summarize some main ideas. The students can over read them in extracurricular time. For Francis Bacon’s life career, the courseware is designed like this:

AHe is the younger son of his family.

BStudied Cambridge and Gray’s Inn

CLater entries parliament

DAt the height of his career, under King James, he became Lord Keeper and then Lord Chancellor of England.

ELater accused of taking bribes in office, so retired in disgrace to his estate of Gornhambry to spend the last five years of his life.

The teacher can sum up his career into a few words with the main points:

A height of career: Lord Keeper

B retired because accused of taking bribes, combination of textbook and the multimedia

We should have a clear understanding of the relation between the textbook and the multimedia. The multimedia works as a supporter for the full and deep understanding of the text book.

4. Conclusion

Multimedia now is a fertile ground for research because of the breadth of the usage in the teaching. Despite of the high acceptance and the great demand of the multimedia, the compelling multimedia has drawbacks in the teaching.But each approach meets different problems and requires different amounts of development time. We are optimistic to forecast that after the making up of the multimedia in teaching, it will continue to play more active role in the teaching.


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② “Current State and the Development of THE Teaching on the Web” [J] Chinese Yuan Chen Education Album of Paper of 2000 2000.12


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