Strength for Today and Bright Hope for Tomorrow

Volume 10 : 5 May 2010
ISSN 1930-2940

Managing Editor: M. S. Thirumalai, Ph.D.
Editors: B. Mallikarjun, Ph.D.
         Sam Mohanlal, Ph.D.
         B. A. Sharada, Ph.D.
         A. R. Fatihi, Ph.D.
         Lakhan Gusain, Ph.D.
         K. Karunakaran, Ph.D.
         Jennifer Marie Bayer, Ph.D.
         S. M. Ravichandran, Ph.D.



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Copyright © 2009
M. S. Thirumalai


A Virtual Learning Environment in an ESL Classroom
in a Technical University in India

S. Gunasekaran, M.A. M.Phil., Ph.D.

Introduction - My Objective

This paper aims at presenting the enriched learning experiences that my engineering students had in an ESL classroom despite the prevalence of a number of constraints. Creating a virtual environment in the ESL context is quite challenging, as there are limitations in using new technologies in our teaching. However, in order to promote effective learning of Corporate English among my students I conducted an action research. I trained them in communication skills with the help of two web tools Podcasts and blogs.

My objective was to:

1. Teach new expressions that are normally used in corporate communication;
2. Create a podcast and upload the dialogues written by the students into it;
3. Create a 'class blog' for students to post their summary of news stories on current affairs.

The Need for Training in Corporate Culture

The idea of conducting this study arose when I noticed a need for training the students in corporate culture and successful work patterns. Most of the students have specialized in Technical subjects in their BE/B.Tech. programmes and have virtually no exposure to corporate culture.

I felt that by creating a virtual environment the corporate world could be brought into the classroom, which, in turn, would stimulate a firsthand experience. To support my view, I found a few interesting articles on podcasts and in one such article Kenneth Beare points out, 'Podcasting is especially interesting for English learners as it provides a means for students to get access to "authentic" listening sources about almost any subject that may interest them.' Teachers can take advantage of podcasts as a basis for listening comprehension exercises, as a means of generating conversation based on students' reaction to podcasts, and as a way of providing each and every student diverse listening materials.

Further I believed that the resources and tools offered by the Internet would motivate the students to perform better while taking up jobs in leading organizations.

A Brief Description of the Curriculum That I'm Required to Follow

It is essential in this context to give a brief description of the curriculum that I handle for III year BE/B.Tech students. It focuses on training students in soft skills apart from imparting domain knowledge for them to work in the corporate world. The curriculum aims at enhancing communication skills among students and evaluating their oral proficiency as well as written communication. A record book is maintained to assess students' performance continuously (twice a week at least). In order to meet those demands the training sessions had to incorporate listening components as well.

How to Achieve the Goals Set by the Curriculum?

How could this be done with the diversified aim of training students in soft skills like interpersonal, persuasive, selling skills, just to name a few, apart from exposing the students to the corporate world? The most feasible option was using web tools like Podcasts and Blogs. The action research conducted and published earlier by various researchers, it was found out that listening to podcasts helped students to improve their oral communication whereas posting messages in a 'class blog' updated their knowledge of current affairs. Needless to mention students learnt to condense the current news and present them briefly.

Podcast versus Other Web Tools

How far does a podcast differ from other web tools? 'Pod casting includes web casting, where people listen to files through their computers, and podcasting takes the next step too of pushing sound files to subscribers with portables MP3 players such as the 'Pod for listening on the go' (Steve McCarty, 2005). We are aware that a 'Podcast' refers to broadcasting an audio file with the help of the software 'podder'. You require an RSS feed to download the audio file and with the help of an MP3 you can listen to the podcast that has been uploaded anywhere at any time and at any place.

This is only the beginning part of the article. PLEASE CLICK HERE TO READ THE ARTICLE IN PRINTER-FRIENDLY VERSION.

Interference of Mappila Dialect in the Standard Malayalam Language - with special reference to the writing performance of Primary School Children | Effect of Environmental Education to School Children Through Animation Based Educational Video | Women as Victors of the Social Milieu in Amy Tan's China | A Comparative Study of the Language Learning Strategies Used by the Students of Formal and Non-Formal Systems of Education in Pakistan | New Vistas in Comparative Studies | Comparative Analysis of MA English Results under Annual and Semester system: Quality Assurance in Pakistan | A Virtual Learning Environment in an ESL Classroom in a Technical University in India | When a School Becomes a Pool - What Can We Do to Make Language Learning Interesting to Yemeni Students | Does Number Affect English Pronunciation? | Shashi Tharoor: Transmuting Historical and Mythical Material into Literary Ideas | The Impact of Working Memory on Text Composition in Hearing Impaired Adults | A Study of the ELT Teachers' Perception of Teaching Language through Literature at the Higher Secondary School and Degree Levels in Pakistani Milieu | Some Aspects of Teaching-Learning English as a Second Language | Challenges Encountered by Teachers in Rural Areas and Strategies to Triumph Over | Variation of Voice Onset Time (VOT) in Kannada Language | A Comparative Study on the Efficacy of Two Different Clinical Language Intervention Procedures | Dilemma of Usage and Transmission - A Sociolinguistic Investigation of Dhundi-Pahari in Pakistan | Teaching Beyond the Regular Curriculum | Claustrophobia in Anita Desai's Cry, The Peacock - "From Defeat to Disaster" | Code Mixing and Code Switching in Tamil Proverbs | A Phonetic and Phonological Study of the Consonants of English and Arabic | HOME PAGE of May 2010 Issue | HOME PAGE | CONTACT EDITOR

S. Gunasekaran, M.A. M.Phil., Ph.D.
Department of English
Anna University Tiruchirappalli
Dindigul Campus
Dindigul- 624 622
Tamilnadu, India

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