As an EFL learner, I always have a feeling that there is a lack of motivation for me to acquire new vocabularies after class as long as I am not aksed to do so. Although it is significant to 'import' new words when you are abroad like me, I definately say NO to boring dictations. It is soooo lucky that my tutor introduced this website http://www.learningchocolate.com/.
1) What is the technology/ What does it do?
Attractive as its name, this website provides pictures to assist understanding. It is really more interesting than simply noting down words. Moreover, around a topic for example Easter, it shows vocabularies related to this topic such as bunny and jellybean, which is a great assistance for acquiring those words systematically.
Don't forget!!! It is not just a vocabulary presenting platform. There are three different exercises: matching up, filling in and dication. In the matching up exercises, there are three sub-categories. Firstly, it lets you match pronunciation with spelling. Secondly, it lets you match spelling with pictures. Finally, it lets you match pictures with pronunciation. Therefore, Ss have opportunites to match pronunciation, pictures and spelling all together. As with the last two exercises, it mainly focuses on spelling output, by providing pictures in "filling in" and pronunciation in "dication".
Furthermore, there are ranged themes to be chosen and the topics are still being updated.
2) Why is this particular tool or technology relevant to language learning? What approaches to language learning or research underpin the use of this technology?
As mentioned above, this tool is a great creation of learning vocabularies for three reasons. Firstly, it offers various topics and these topics are being updated. Secondly, Ss can learn words with affordance of pictures and their families. Finally, the execises cover the main areas of vocabulary acquiring, namely pronunciation, meaning and spelling.
Students have fun in this wesites because of attractive pictures and vivid sound, which are of great importance to vocabulary learning (Margaurina, 2012). Therefore, it is more possible that they are motivated to learn words after class. Magford (2012) suggests independent learning is key to vocabulary development. Therefore, this websites are really helpful. (Magford and Margaurina are two participants in online forum on Research into practice: vocabulary, organized by IATEFL Research SIG, http://resig.weebly.com/1/post/2012/01/16-20-jan-2011-article-discussion-research-into-practice-vocabulary.html)
3) How might you use it to foster language learning in class/outside class?
According to the topic of each lesson, I will choose related topic in this website. I will invite Ss to do exercises ahead of time at home. Thereofore, they will have a general understanding of both the topic of a lesson and some main words that should be acquired, which benefits for new lesson delivery.
Another way to use this webiste could be that, based on the word families, students look for new words to extend the families. In this sense, this website is used as a role of a motivator that guides students to develop their own vocabulary dictionaries.
4) What limitations can you see with the use of this technology?
It only introduces concrete words which can be presented in pictures. In addition, the number of words around a particular topic is usually below ten, not so many. Therefore, the target learners' level of this webistes is limited among beginners or pre-intermediate. Moreover, Ss do not have a chance to practice speaking those words. That is one of the big concerns for Chinese students and it seems that this situation also happens in Japanese university. As Grogen (2012) aruges in the same forum talked above, it is hard to get students to speak and they lack the awareness of the sound of English. I am still looking for a website that can get students to speak (www.languageguide.org might be an alternative since it covers a speaking session in the test).