Content cannot be learned without language, and even language can serve as content for lessons. In addition, learners usually demonstrate understanding of content by using language, and they demonstrate language learning by discussing or writing about content. In other words, the relationship between language and content is both receptive and active. Because the two are intertwined, CALL teachers need to be mindful of the difficulties that learners can face in meeting both language and content objectives, particularly if these objectives are not made explicit. Teaching in a culturally responsive manner, including making sure that software and websites do not present unexplored biases, can help learners achieve in both language and content areas.
► Teachers’ Voices
I like PBS and National Geographic for the multimedia presentation they offer, lesson plans recommended, connection to television shows, and the variety of themes to represent.
I always provide students with books, encyclopedias, atlases, magazines to conduct research as well as websites… Some of us still prefer written material we can touch, quickly refer back to. I find that when I read longer materials on the computer that I tend to click on links and eventually lose my original place.
I really enjoyed this website and wanted to emphasize it to all of you. The website is www.nationalgeographic.com; go into the NG Kids [section]. I found some exciting experiments that our students could do at home with materials they would all have access to. Also they can be performed in class if you choose. This site has a lot for all ages. The graphics are wonderful and the feature stories are very engaging. There are contests, jokes, and many links. I hope you find it as rewarding for our ELLs (and all other students) as I did.
I have found that multimedia authoring software, for me, is time consuming and not always the best use of my time… Granted that authoring software is more flexible; I just do not know if the time investment is always worth it. My students have used PowerPoint, Excel spreadsheet for graphs [and] data; we have a class scanner, a digital camera, [color] printer.
Students use the technology for their research projects. I always provide specific websites they may use for their research—otherwise they are all over the place and never find the needed information.
The cover story in April, 2003, NEA Today is about computers and technology. You can access the article at http://www.nea.org/neatoday/0304/cover.html. The things they are doing in regular classrooms is awesome —animate long division problems, diagram the parts of a cell, complete a spelling quiz their teacher “beams” to them . . . WOW.