Example 2

2. Theoretical Background

According to a research held among EFL teachers in Germany (Maglic, 2007), 39,18% of the teachers has never used a computer room and 23,47% of them has never used computer in classrooms. However, changing demands of the so called Information Age is making computers an integral part of the language learning and teaching process day by day. A growing number of institutions and teachers have enjoyed the advantages of using web based language teaching materials, especially when dealing with young learners.

It is evident from the recent research that computers and the web are important tools that enhance learning of foreign languages (Hacken, 2003; Quesada Pacheco, 2005, 2006; Reinders & Lewis, 2005). The advantages of using web based materials in the language classrooms and for self learning do not only stem from the ease of access and use, but also results from the variety of audio-visual input these materials include. It is more important when we consider the learning of vocabulary as Sert (2006) emphasizes: "when the learning materials are visualized with respect to the relations among signs, the results may become more promising in that more senses are activated during learning" (p.110). It is obvious that the number of senses activated during learning process affects the quality of learning positively.

Accordingly, the image, sound and video files presented in web based vocabulary learning materials have a number of advantages considering time and efficiency compared to traditional teacher-based classroom materials. First of all, the words that are introduced to students are contextualized with pictures, which is claimed to be an efficient tool by many researchers. When digital images are considered, as in this web page, the learning outcome is claimed to be very positive according to recent research (Scoter, 2004).

According to semiotic approach in learning, a word is best learned with an interaction of the pronunciation, the written form and an image (Şenel, 2007; Sert, 2007). If the word being taught is contextualized with its image and presented with its pronunciation, it is more probable that the word can be encoded to long term memory. Especially when teaching to young learners, we should make use of the strong photographic memory of children. Additionally, as stressed by Cameron (2001), young learners can reach native-like pronunciation if they are taught appropriately in meaningful contexts. This advantage of children in learning pronunciation should not be neglected.

Within the framework of the discussions, the following section will introduce the present web material that can be reached at http://www.olcaysert.com/animals.html. The web site has been designed for teaching some vocabulary related to animals to young learners of English. The total of the animal names to be taught is 8. This is because Gairns and Redman (1998) indicate that an average of eight to twelve words can be introduced in a single sixty-minute lesson, and for Peet (2005) and Beck et al. (2005), seven lexical items should be introduced to learners in a single sitting.

3. The Material

The web page was designed for young learners (preferably between ages 6-9) of English as a foreign language with the aim of teaching animal related words and verbs. In designing the web page, Dreamweaver 8 was used accompanied by Macromedia Fireworks as image editor. Additionally, sound files in mp3 format were used in order to teach children the pronunciations of the words. Furthermore, some mp3 files are animal sounds, which can be claimed to be effective tools in teaching animal sounds in related activities and exercises. The exercises were designed using Hot Potatoes 6, and range from matching to quiz exercises.

There are navigation buttons on the left side bar, which help the teacher and the learners navigate between the vocabulary page, the activities and exercises. The vocabulary page includes the target words to be learned, with their pronunciations (audio files), additional sound files (sounds of the animals) and image files. The suggested activities to be found in activities page are just some recommendations and can be expended by the teacher. The exercises page include sound and picture matching exercises, an odd one out quiz and a flash card exercise, which will be discussed below. Although the page was designed for classroom use, it can also be used as a self-learning tool, as the instructions are clear and the web site is user friendly. However, as Reinders & Lewis (2005) put it, materials that may be perfectly suitable for use in a classroom environment may not be in a self-access context.

As stated above, the vocabulary link includes the target words to be learned. The images of the animals can be clicked to listen to the sounds. In separate boxes, the verbs related to each animal are supplied. Additionally, again in separate boxes, the pronunciation of each word is given to the students, as pronunciation is considered to be an integral part of speaking skills. The teacher should use this page for introducing the words to students and this can be either accompanied by a story prepared by the teacher, or directly roaming between the image and sound files. It should be kept in mind that children learn best if learning is made fun for them.

The activities link consists of three suggested activities in which students are asked to form groups. Below are the games that are presented in the web page:

1. Guess What

- First students are introduced with the animals and their sounds via the animal chart in vocabulary page.
- Then the teacher forms two groups
- A child from the first group clicks one of the pictures and one child from the other group tries to say the name of the animal
- The child from the first group clicks to the player link to listen to the correct pronunciation
- The game continues till all animals have been reviewed once more.

2. Online Flash Cards

- In groups of 4 or 5, the students open the flash card page to review the animal sounds.
- As the picture of the animal appears, one of the kids chooses someone from the group and asks for the appropriate verb.
- If the student cannot remember the appropriate sound, he is asked to imitate the animal.
- All students in the group repeat the full sentence.

3. Logical Reasoning

- The teacher opens the odd one out quiz.
- S/he introduces information about domestic, farm and wild animals.
-The students try to find the odd one out and discuss.

As it can be understood by the instructions given, the activities are games for the students through which they can have fun and engage in group work. Through these activities, their communicative skills are enhanced and learning is reinforced by making use of image and sound files as well as creating information gaps for the learners. If we consider that the class lasts 50 minutes, a total of 30 minutes can be spent to the classroom activities.

In exercises link, there are 4 audio-visual exercises that can help students practice what they have learned. In the first "sound matching" exercise, the students drag and drop the media files on the appropriate animal. When they click the play button, they try to remember the name of the animal using their audio source. In the second "sound matching" exercise, the students find the opportunity to listen to the pronunciation of the words. After they listen to the pronunciation, they match the media file with the appropriate picture by dragging and dropping the file.

The third exercise, "the odd one out", helps students understand the animal world in a logical ay by grouping them as domestic or wild animals. This exercise should be preceded with an introductory knowledge from the teacher and should be followed by discussions on the questions. The fourth exercise (flash cards), help students construct meaningful sentences by using the names of the animals and their sounds in the verb form. The images are followed by the verb and the students are expected to guess the verb and form sentences immediately after they see the image of the animal.