Using Interactive Whiteboards to Teach Grammar in the MFL Classroom: A Learner's Perspective

Using Interactive Whiteboards to Teach Grammar in the MFL Classroom: A Learner's Perspective

Barbara Bettsworth (Lancaster Girls’ Grammar School, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-715-2.ch014
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Abstract

The purpose of this study was to examine, from the pupil’s perspective, how effective the interactive whiteboard is in promoting understanding and retention of specific grammar points in the Modern Foreign Languages classroom within the secondary school sector. Fifty-eight pupils, in two parallel teaching groups, participated in the study over an eight-week period at a secondary school in the UK. The lessons were delivered entirely from the IWB, using a wide range of interactive features. Pupils completed a questionnaire designed to assess their perceptions of language learning before and after the study. In addition, six pupils from each of the groups were interviewed in more detail. The results of the questionnaires and interviews indicated a strong preference for IWB enhanced lessons, particularly where these related visual features of the IWB to elements of language. The results will inform future training within the languages department, and then within other teaching areas at the school.
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The Technology Infrastructure

Lancaster Girls’ Grammar School in the UK is a selective state school with a specialist designation in languages and technology. There has been considerable investment in IWBs over the past five years such that every classroom is now equipped with a data projector, a teacher’s laptop and a Promethean Activboard running Activstudio Professional Edition V2 or V3. Usage of this equipment varies widely among teachers and the prevalent tendency is to use it as little more than a projection system for presentation software, an issue highlighted by Miller et al. (2005) when assessing the training needs of trainee teachers.

Issues of classroom management need further consideration so that trainees do not fall into the trap of using the IAW as just another form of illustration but consider all elements of group structure, classroom layout, exercise and textbook use, behaviour management and gender issues to maximise pupil involvement and learning. (Miller et al., 2005, p.4)

However, within the Modern Foreign Languages, the Mathematics and the History departments there has been a concerted effort to exploit the interactivity of the whiteboard and to adopt an experimental approach to this new technology. Teachers across all subjects are constantly seeking ways to enhance the learning experience in the classroom and the consensus is that IWBs may have a significant role to play in this. The pupils are highly receptive to innovative teaching and seem to respond particularly well to creative tasks where they have an element of freedom to explore beyond the prescribed content of the curriculum. The pupils are also at the top end of the ability spectrum and the level of motivation is particularly high.

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