Technology in the ELL / ESL Classroom



I attended a workshop a couple weeks and the presenter started his workshop by saying  "If someone who died in 1900 was brought back to life in 2016, the only thing that he / she would recognize were our schools and classrooms." His comment was addressing the fact that the education sector in society is lagging well behind other sectors in it's adaptation of technology. While technology has radically changed every part of our lives in the last couple decades, there is still a lot of resistance to employing new technology in classrooms. There are many reasons for this resistance (lack of training, negative perceptions of technology, lack of motivation to change, etc.), however to teach future generations, technology must be further integrated in education; this of course includes English language education. 

In the following blog, I am briefly going to touch upon the benefits of using technology in the ELL / ESL classroom and mention a couple ways that teachers can use technology as well. The key word in the last sentence is "briefly." This topic is so broad that it is impossible to cover all aspects in a blog entry, but I hope that you'll be able to see why technology should be used in teaching English and maybe use some of my suggestions in your classroom.

Benefits of Technology in the Classroom

1. Technology can increase students' motivation and engagement
Today’s students are functioning in an age where technology influences almost every aspect of their lives. Technology is exciting, fascinating and ever-evolving, and when used thoughtfully, it can transform even the most mundane lesson into one that is powerful and thought-provoking. Moreover, one of the main benefits of using technology in the classroom is that the traditional passive learning mold is broken. Unlike a teacher-led classroom, students have more opportunities participate in their own learning. In technology savvy classrooms, a teacher acts as a facilitator who sets project goals for the students and provides them with the necessary resources and guidelines to reach those goals.  Activity helps the student become engaged in the lesson and retain more information.

2. Technology helps students learn at their own pace
Technology such as podcasts and vidcasts, for example, may give students the opportunity to learn at their own pace and the freedom to go back and relearn content that may have missed before. This is very important for ESL students as many need additional support with pronunciation and defining common vocabulary that may be new to them. Other students, might have difficulty reading and reviewing complex texts. The ability to access podcasts and vidcasts on classroom computers can help address these students' needs.

3. Technology = Mobility
Technology in the classroom also gives students a new opportunity to access information instantly, at any place, at any time of day, and gives them the ability to communicate with their instructor on a more personal level. Students now can view activities and resources anywhere and immediately communicate with their instructor about their thoughts or questions.

4. Technology Prepares Students for the Future
Education isn’t just about memorizing grammar rules and vocabulary words, it’s about solving complex problems and being to collaborate with others in the workforce. Technology in the classroom prepares students for their future and sets them up for this increasing digital economy.



Ways to Use Technology in your Class

First off before I give you a couple suggestions, the most important advice I can give (which might be the hardest to accept) is you have to embrace the cell phone. Trying to stop your students from using it in class is a losing battle. Instead try to find ways to incorporate them in your lessons

Film and Video
Using short and feature-length videos is an engaging way to work on skills like vocabulary and comprehension

Podcasts
Students can listen to podcasts to improve their comprehension

Online Games
Students can master spelling, grammar and other English skills by playing games on the computer or mobile devices

Blogging
Class blogs provide great forums for students to practice their writing skills

Skype
Skype is a great way for students to practice their speaking and listening skills with other people from any location

Digital Books
With the digital publishing age, you can have a thousand books at your disposal at any time, right in your pocket

Dropbox/Google Docs/Edomo
File sharing sites such as Dropbox, Google Docs, and Edomo are great for keeping up communication with your students. Also they are a great way for students to work on group projects.

Virtual Field Trips
In the age of technology, the world is simple a click away.


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