Enhancing second language learning : exploring a visual approach to working with the bedroom culture of pre-adolescent girls.
St John-Ward, Maureen Inge.
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This research project explored how modern media and the theme of Bedroom Culture could be used to enhance second language learning of preadolescent girls. Most of the girls who participated in this project are first language English speakers. Therefore it is a challenge for them to learn isiZulu. Thus, to kindle an interest an obvious entry point to working with these pre-adolescent girls in a participatory way in terms of language learning, was to capitalize on their interest and expertise. The theme ‘My Bedroom’ was used because girls spend much of their out-of-school time in their bedroom and this is considered a critical interest space for them. This approach focused on using photographs taken by the girls themselves, on digital cameras, of various aspects and spaces in their bedroom. Thereafter a Power Point presentation was created by each girl, using these photographs. The presentations were then carried out by the girls in front of the class and the teacher. Making use of modern technologies and media, and what is familiar to them allowed the girls to work with different modes from the purely written/verbal linguistic mode which has dominated language learning and teaching for some time. These modes of meaning included the visual, audio and gestural. Incorporated into the research were the Multimodal approach together with the idea of Multiliteracies. These Multiliteracies include the understanding and control of meaning-making forms, which are becoming increasingly important in the communications environment, and which lead to a new direction in language learning during the second language lessons. The approach of this work builds on the popular Communicative/Task-Based Approach in language learning. This research showed that allowing the girls to use photographs of their bedrooms, empowered them to take ownership of their project, enabling them to confidently carry out the presentation using modern technology with which they are familiar as well as, using a subject with which they are familiar. At the same time they were able to extend their own knowledge to learn isiZulu. It also revealed much about their Bedroom Culture, Girlhood Studies, Children as Cultural Producers and Children and Visual Studies.