Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Developing Learners' Second Language Communicative Competence through Active Learning: Clickers or Communicative Approach?

Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Developing Learners' Second Language Communicative Competence through Active Learning: Clickers or Communicative Approach?

Article excerpt


Different pedagogical strategies have varying degrees of success. Students' academic performance may be influenced positively by their active engagement in the classroom (Emerson & Taylor, 2004; Johnson, 2005). In developing countries like Nigeria, teacher-talk, and the persistence of triadic initiation-response-feedback (IRF) mode of discourse dominate classroom instructional process (Oluwole, 2008; Onukaogu, 2001). In traditional classrooms, students engage in recitation of scripts, minimal interaction, and less involvement in productive thinking. Interaction between the students, the learning materials, other students, and the teacher are significant to learning outcomes (Singh & Mohammed, 2012; Smith, Hardman & Higgins, 2006).

Second language (L2) learning requires that learners take ownership of learning activities through interaction, active participation and the use of the target language in a more authentic context (Lantolf, 1994; Tabber & deKoeijer, 2010). Despite English being the medium of instruction in Nigerian schools, many students are academic underachievers because of their low level of communicative skills in English caused by teachers' reliance on the lecture method (Adesemowo, 2005; Oluwole, 2008). The traditional "chalk and talk" method which involves the teacher talking to students and writing notes on the chalkboard results in rote learning, learners' low level of retention, and passive learning. Onukaogu (2001) remarked that the traditional method of teaching provided learners fewer opportunities to participate actively in class; hence learners are less confident to express themselves.

Interaction is a key element to successful instructional process. According to Singh and Mohammed (2012), knowledge is best constructed when learners involve in negotiation of meaning. In the recent time, most educational theories as exemplified in Figure 1 emphasise social learning and learner-centred learning in knowledge construction. Studies have shown that classroom interaction promotes improved learning outcomes, and critical thinking (Chou, 2003; Kay & LeSage, 2009), and captures students' attention and interest (Sims, 2003). Individual learning styles influences interaction and participation in the classroom (DeBourgh, 2008). There are active learners (learn by doing), sensing learners (learn by discussing possibilities and relationships), visual learners (learn when they see things), and the sequential learners who gain understanding in linear steps (Felder & Spurlin, 2005). The multimedia learning principle of Mayer (2001) proposes that auditory information is less contributory to effective learning than when text is combined with visual images. Therefore, the multidimensional nature of an interactive and a communicative classroom suits learners of different learning styles.

The three learning theories in Figure 1 emphasise the importance of student's active participation in the instructional process (Beeland, 2002; Singh & Mohammed, 2012). Students would be motivated to learn when they are actively engaged in learning activities than they would have when they are passive in the classroom. Ensuring interactivity in the traditional classroom is challenging (DeBourgh, 2008).

In the last two decades, one of the most influencing developments in language learning is the introduction of digital technology. The introduction of interactive teaching approaches into schools has had an increasing impact on the way teacher teach, and the process students learn (Facer, Sutherland, & Furlong, 2003). Communicative approach (CA) is directed towards enhancing classroom interaction and learners' participation in communication during the instructional process (Menking, 2002; Qinghong, 2009). CA is a classroom strategy that involves pairing and grouping of learners to enhance negotiation of meaning, development of confidence by engaging in tasks and activities that are fluency-based. …

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