Audio aids function as learning facilitators and teaching machines, and motivate the learner and arrest his/her attention during the instructional process. Though such aids are greatly helpful in L2 teaching and continually expanding their scope with the availability and development of technology, their use in the EFL class especially at the tertiary level in Bangladesh is still limited. This study was then designed to address varied issues related to the use of audio aids in the EFL class at the tertiary level in Bangladesh. It concludes that the use of audio aids in the EFL class is a plus, but the lack of teacher training, audio equipment and material and administrative support seriously restricts it. Hence, the researchers recommend proper teacher training, adequate audio equipment and material, necessary administrative support, and a well equipped language lab to ensure the optimal use of audio aids, and thus guarantee the learner’s maximum benefit.
The Use of Audio Aids in the EFL Class at the Tertiary Level: a Plus or a Minus?
Key words: teaching EFL, tertiary level, audio aids, a plus
It is sometimes time-consuming and/or exhausting to make second/foreign language materials (either newly constructed or adapted) suitable and acceptable to the learner because he/she may feel uninterested in and even disappointed with them as he/she finds them unfamiliar, difficult, problematic, mechanical, unattractive and so forth. Besides, the teaching methods and techniques the teacher employs may not be in consonance with the learner’s needs, interests, level and aptitude. Hence, as opposed to the traditional approach to L2 teaching including the chalk and talk method, the communicative language teaching approach encourages the teacher to act as a facilitator by helping the learner become an interested, active and efficient participant in the whole learning process (Richards and Rodgers 2002). To carry out his/her job successfully and ensure the learner’s maximal benefit, the teacher has to use his/her teaching methods, techniques as well as materials in a manner that is consistent with the learner’s needs and interest. And the appropriate use of audio aids can be substantially helpful in this respect (Kamal and Afteb 1993) since such learning aids and teaching machines stimulate, motivate and arrest the learner’s attention during the instructional process.
Audio-aids can be defined as models and devices that can be heard and give an image of something, somebody and some situations. They include recorded materials, radios, cassette players, cassettes and the like which are relatively cheap and available and which the language teacher with a little training can use in the L2 class so as to make the teaching methods, techniques and materials considerably effective and interesting, and to help the learner have maximum benefit (Akanbi 1988). Unlike most other types of aids and means used in the language class, on the one hand, this type of aid enables the teacher to modify the teaching method and technique, and change the classroom situation quickly and immediately as necessary; and on the other, it attracts the learner’s attention, stirs his/her imagination, reduces his/her exhaustion, motivates him/her to be engaged in the learning process, and thus helps him/her to acquire expected proficiency in the language skills especially listening and speaking.
Different teaching aids devised and recommended by language experts are intended to make the learner interested and motivated. The native speaker’s voice and accent through the audio tape make the learner enthusiastic and excited. This greatly facilitates the learner’s understanding of the linguistic as well as the communicative aspects. Audio aids add a life-like effect to the text book and other printed materials used to teach the target language. For example, as soon as a cassette player is played and the material is presented, the learner is immediately drawn to it. He/she feels the presence of another teacher in the classroom. With the help of audio aids, the teacher can, moreover, successfully deal with the weak and indifferent learner. These aids are seen to reduce the teacher talk and the chalk method, and reversely increase the learner’s interaction and active participation. The teacher can also provide as much practice as is necessary by using audio tapes; but it is to be remembered that audio aids should be purpose oriented as well. Pike (1997) identifies some significant reasons for carefully designing and using audio aids: motivating the learner, attracting and maintaining the learner’s attention, reinforcing the main ideas of the lesson, illustrating and supporting the spoken literature, minimizing misunderstanding of the learner, increasing retention, adding a touch of realism, saving both class time and expenses, helping the teacher to communicate more dearly and quickly so that the learner can understand the content clearly and easily, and helping the teacher clarify the thinking and provide a logical path for communication.
Though audio aids are found to be greatly helpful in teaching an L2 and continually expanding their scope with the availability and development of technology, their use in the EFL class especially at the tertiary level in Bangladesh is still limited. Therefore, the present study was designed to address and explore the following questions:
a. Are audio aids used in the class?
b. If yes, how much are they useful?
c. If no, why are they not used?
d. What does the teacher think of using audio aids?
e. What does the student think of using audio aids?
Research design and methodology
This study was conducted with 32 university teachers and 120 tertiary level students randomly selected from two public universities University of Dhaka and Jahangirnagar University, and eight private universities Daffodil International University, Stamford University, State University, Northern University, Darul Ihsan University, Northern University, Eastern University and University of Development Alternative (UODA) in Dhaka. The teachers being Bangla speaking had at least a postgraduate degree in English language and/or literature. And all the students possessed the same mother tongue Bangla, and were learning English as a foreign language.