Using Instructional Technology Tools to Teach Informational Texts in Thailand

Using Instructional Technology Tools to Teach Informational Texts in Thailand

Jared Keengwe (University of North Dakota, USA), Moussa Traore (North Shore College, USA) and Gary Schnellert (University of North Dakota, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/jicte.2012010104
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This article examines the teaching of English as a Second Language (ESL) to medical personnel (nurses and doctors) in a hospital in Northern Thailand. The study shows that using technological devices like listening and comprehension CDs, tape recorders and the Internet to teach informational texts can help ESL learners overcome some of their learning difficulties. Evidence from the study suggests that such a pedagogical approach not only improves the comprehension of informational texts but also students’ mastery levels of spoken and written English. The findings also reveal that such a pedagogical approach exposes students to the various nuances and differences associated with Global English awareness and understanding.
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Some researchers point out the importance of informational texts in the reading class. Informational texts, for instance, help students to acquire new knowledge that influences their opinion about themselves and the world (Mooney, 2003). Information texts are also effective literacy tools because they make the learner realize that all uses of written language occur in specific places and times that are part of the learners’ broader societal practices (Alvermann, 2001). Informational texts are important in English as a second Language (ESL) classroom in the sense that they help students create meaning out of their reading by relating the materials under study to other information they had previously acquired (Gabriel & Gabriel, 2010). Integrating informational texts into language and literacy instruction expands students’ content knowledge within their areas of study and also encourages the use of sophisticated language (Pentimonti et al., 2010). Therefore, the teaching of informational texts should be at the core of the ESL comprehension curriculum.

Informational texts related to the learner’s community and experience have the advantage of helping students generate and decode words and phrases that are often used in texts unfamiliar to the students (Gabriel & Gabriel, 2010). In addition, informational texts related to the learner’s experience and interest build the self-efficiency and engagement for reading and writing which in themselves are central to theories of motivation (Guthrie & Wigfield, 2000). Informational texts have also unique benefits such as acquiring inferential language and vocabulary, and content area learning (Stone & Twardosz, 2001). Teaching informational texts supports inquiry-based science curricular that simultaneously teach literacy and language skills (Conezio & French, 2002). Motivation is a key factor in the ESL classroom and informational texts have a motivating impact on students and as a result, learners begin to engage in certain reading and vocabulary exercises by themselves. Students who initially show little enthusiasm for texts assigned by their instructors genuinely enjoy informational texts that evolve around the students’ favorite topics (Duke, 2004). The importance of informational texts is so vital that instructors are encouraged to create opportunities for students to use informational texts (Duke, 40).

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