Audiobook in Advanced ESL Classroom: Developing Critical Listening
In the era of abundance of ICT in education, the focus of academics is gradually shifting from initial urge for testing all possible emerging devices in order to improve learning process to a concern over potential overload with digital media and thus the need for its sifting. Foreign language learning is no exception. The fundamental skills of reading, listening, speaking, and writing have all been ICT enhanced in the past decade in both successful and failed attempts to boost language proficiency of learners. At the same time, the only indisputable need for technology in foreign language acquisition in academic environment has always been traced in the sphere of developing listening skills. For many researchers, listening as a basic skill is closely connected to the ability of comprehension [3, 5, 9]. However, true for lower level language learning this argument is fading at a more advanced level of language mastery dominated by reinforcement of critical thinking. A qualitative leap from basic comprehension to critical analysis has to be addressed in the process of developing language competencies. Listening, in particular, requires the design of special learning material, which, on the one hand, meets the criterion of authenticity [2, 7] and, on the other hand, leaves room for scaffolding since formal learning implies the use of specifically-built system of learning tools and not just exposure to random language experiences. [3, 4] In this regard, digital audiobooks present a unique opportunity to tackle the development of critical listening at advanced stages. Audiobooks have recently found a wide application in education from its elementary stage to adult learning [1,16]. Primarily, audiobooks are used as a supplement to reading. The present study, however, is focused on the use of audiobooks for critical listening skills for ESL students without considering the reading component of the traditional approach to audiobooks. In such context, the present article deals with issues of developing a methodology of implementing the use of digital audiobooks in advanced ESL classroom, presents specific examples of scaffolding exercises and analysis of the data collected from field-testing this approach on the stage of higher education through the case study of the Russian students learning English at National Research University Higher School of Economics in Moscow.