One of the main reasons I recently relocated to Uijongbu-Shi, Republic of Korea (ROK) was to teach. My focus will be on teaching English as a Foreign Language (EFL) and I plan to take advantage of available technology, to better my teaching, and to improve learners’ L2 acquisition. Since my arrival here, just a few short weeks ago, I have observed many Koreans, from young grade-school children, to grandfatherly types with portable digital devices in-hand, primarily smartphones. The proliferation of smartphones here is truly amazing and my first-hand experience bears out what I have been reading prior to my arrival, which states that the ROK is likely the most connected country in the world.
Due to the widespread acceptance of technology here I have been searching for digital tools that can offer an immersive setting to L2 learners. When I began researching teaching EFL in Asia with digital stories I was pleased to encounter so many scholarly articles on the topic of Digital Storytelling (DST) and EFL teaching, and the one I read for this critique reviewed existing literature on this topic and aggregated the findings. The article, “Digital Storytelling: Using Different Technologies for EFL” authored by M. Sidury Christiansen and Marie-Louise Koelzer is a very appropriate place for me to begin, as it provides a great overview of the topic. Christiansen and Koelzer (2016) describe that EFL teachers don’t seem to be taking advantage of DST, although “… it is becoming a widely accepted tool to address students’ language and literacy needs in the English language teaching field. For this reason, EFL teachers need to become increasingly familiar with the practices of DST in the classroom.” They argue that it has not gained popularity due to many EFL educators misunderstanding DST in the classroom.
The misunderstanding stems from the fact that educators are often too focused on the technology and seem to think that they must have cutting edge tech available or they, and their students, will not be able to produce digital stories. Christiansen and Koelzer (2016) not only share the findings of others which clearly demonstrate that this is not the case, but go on to detail how digital stories can be effectively produced using web-based tools, as well as applications that are either included in operating systems, or are part of widely distributed office productivity suites, or even available for free download from the web.
In my current endeavor, it behooves me to better understand DST in the EFL classroom and as Christiansen and Koelzer (2016) clearly state “… numerous studies illustrate successful accounts of DST to improve students’ language and literary skills in the EFL classroom.” I wish to gather as much credible research as possible before I begin teaching, and since I will begin by teaching small groups from my home, I have the “luxury” of designing my own curriculum, which will take advantage of digital technology on the whole, and more specifically DST.
Christiansen, M. S., & Koelzer, M. (2016). Digital Storytelling: Using Different Technologies for EFL. Retrieved August 30, 2016, from http://www.academia.edu/22773272/Digital_Storytelling_Using_Different_Technologies_for_EFL