Academic journal article School Libraries Worldwide

Language Learning through a Lens: The Case for Digital Storytelling in the Second Language Classroom

Academic journal article School Libraries Worldwide

Language Learning through a Lens: The Case for Digital Storytelling in the Second Language Classroom

Article excerpt

The art of storytelling is still a crucial component in many school library programs. By tapping into this expansive tradition and integrating web 2.0 digital story technologies, librarians are able to collaborate with English as a Second Language Teachers in order to design student-centered digital story projects. This transformative use of technology within the framework of social constructionism motivates language students to focus on the contextual use of language rather than basic vocabulary development. The case for digital storytelling is built on an intersection of secondary language acquisition theory, language learning pedagogical understandings and instructional strategies.

Introduction

"''No fundo não sou literato, sou pintor. Nasci pintor, mas como nunca peguei nos pincéis a sério, arranjei, sem nenhuma premeditação, este derivativo de literatura, e nada mais tenho feito senão pintar com palavras."

- Monteiro Lobato

"''Deep inside I'm not a writer, I am a painter. I was born a painter but I never took up painting, and arranged, without premeditation, this derivative of painting which is literature, and nothing more have I done than paint with words."

- Monteiro Lobato

In 2009, the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) generated a supplemental report on the status of school library programs and services to English language learners (AASL, 2009). At the time, the report noted that English language learners (ELL) made up a significant portion of the American student population, with one in five elementary students labeled ELL, and several regions reflecting ELL populations of 25% or greater. This report revealed the explosive growth this population experienced since the late 1970's - a growth of 124% by the year 2003 (National Center for Education Statistics, 2005). It is now estimated that in 2030 almost half of American students (close to 40%) will comprise English language learners - students for whom English is not the primary home language and/or struggle to speak English properly (Flynn & Hill, 2005). However, the most worrisome aspect of the AASL report demonstrated a lack of librarian instructional action toward ELLs. Despite the significant presence of this population in schools, more than a third of school librarians stated they did not use any of the English language learning collaboration strategies listed in the report. Sadly, over 58% indicated that their collections contained little to no non-English publications. It should not be surprising then, that in 2007, only 30% of ELLs ages 10-14 tested at the most basic reading proficiency level (Blair, Brasfield, Crenshaw & Mosedale, 2011).

This hesitance on the part of librarians and school library programs to engage in collaboration with ELL students and English as a second language (ESL) teachers, may be a result of minimal preparation and education in ELL instructional strategies during educator preparation programs (Flynn & Hill, 2005). It may also reflect a difficulty in identifying English language learners, a task which is vastly complicated by the inconsistency in student characteristics, ranging from varied socio-economic status to the level of education obtained (Gibbons, 2006). Even so, although not all school librarians possess a vast background in ELL education, the art of storytelling is still very much a part of their skill-set (Naidoo, 2005). In addition, librarians' comfort with technology tools and technology integration strategies within social constructionist environments enable the development of storytelling projects which may lead to more meaningful language learning.

The school library environment supports the availability of emerging technologies and resources for promoting student creation, contribution and collaboration (Malita & Martin, 2010; Robin, 2008). Thus, we "highlight the importance of students' collaboration in using available tools and learning activities within an authentic environment in constructing and reconstructing ideas and beliefs" (Yang & Wu, 2012, p. …

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