DIGITAL STORYTELLING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE ACQUISITION
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2011 Proceedings
Publication year: 2011
Conference name: 4th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 14-16 November, 2011
Location: Madrid, Spain
Abstract:In this paper I will argue that digital storytelling enhances foreign language acquisition, especially in the early stages. Digital story is simply about anyone telling a personal story about matters closely connected to himself/ herself. This is what is asked of students to do in the Swedish syllabus; talk about themselves and participate in simple discussions on everyday and familiar subjects. However, beginners are limited to a small set of vocabulary and experience quite often a frustration about not being able to give the full picture. When working with personal descriptions, students have formerly been limited to either written or spoken language with only paper, pen and voice as media/support. Nowadays, with new digital tools, students can use more universal and direct signs, independent from the target language, and thus give a more extensive personal presentation. Digital storytelling can go beyond “human language” by adding pictures, sounds, music, symbols etc. Where language is not sufficient, other semiotic languages can nuance, clarify and deepen the presentation. With each separate sign system working together with the others in the same direction, digital storytelling thus offers a new complex “text” created from a multimedia ensemble. In the process, students acquire new vocabulary which is consolidated by the different modalities in combination. Furthermore, the assignment’s flexibility also permits individual learning preferences.
Storytelling enables students to become active producers and as such, they design the learning process. During the process, changes can be made and the message can be modified until the student is satisfied. The fact that they make a product also enhances language acquisition, since students at any time in the process can make a shift in perspective from sender to recipient and thus facilitate a more objective evaluation. From a distance, the student can contemplate the choices in the making of the story in relation to the final result. Evaluation is also included in the syllabus. Students should “be able to reflect over their own learning e.g. pronunciation and reading”. This is especially the case when we consider the oral production, which is fugacious and normally difficult for the student to examine. Furthermore, students are likely to record their stories more than once until they are satisfied with the result; repetitions also improve language acquisition.
Digital stories can be made in for example Photo Story, Movie Maker and iMovie and several other software applications or free cloud services. These are all simple tools and do not require much experience of working with digital media, but can give impressive results with small means. This will be exemplified in the paper with a description of some classroom cases of student production.
Keywords: Digital storytelling, foreign language acquisition.