Integrating Technology in the English Language Classroom
It is undeniable that the new digital era is offering great and unprecedented opportunities to radically transform English leaning and teaching. Well, from Gutenberg to Google and from blackboards to smartboards, technological revolution has always shaped the way we learn and teach.
Of course, that’s not to say technology is a silver bullet; English teachers all over the world need to understand how to use it effectively. The point here is that we shouldn’t feel pressure to introduce the latest technology fad. We should never lose focus of whether the way we incorporate technology really has a positive impact on English learning. So, let’s see smart ways in which technology-based education can actually help your students to improve their English skills!
⭕ Digital Content Creation
When students create their own digital content, they learn how to articulate their thoughts and ideas in English, how to express their opinions and beliefs, how to be creative and think outside the box, how to collaborate with their peers and work effectively with diverse and different teams… In a nutshell, how to sharpen their English skills and become more engaged.
So, say yes to student blogs, social media use, mini videos, podcasts, WebQuests, PowerPoint or Google Slides presentations and online groups for class discussions. If you are wondering how to start, just choose an easy and super fun video project: Ask your students to create a guided tour of your language school or a guided tour of their favourite spots in their area if you are a private English teacher!
tip 💡 Have your parents kept any of your school projects? Chances are that they’ve kept some of them tucked away somewhere in a closet! Help your students to create their own digital portfolio, upload and display their work and share with pride their own story of English language leaning! Not sure how to get started? Well, there are many free apps that can be used to create a student’s e-portfolio. Just google it and persuade your students to think of a digital portfolio as the necessary Swiss Army knife of organisation!
⭕ Engaging & Interactive Lessons
Saying yes to activities that grab your English learners’ attention and keep them typing, clicking and talking is always the way to go. Just take a look at our user-friendly Teachers' Club section that can help you to add a little bit of unexpected fun as it offers you lots of free interactive materials for learners of different ages, levels and interests.
And when you have to teach some seemingly boring vocabulary lists or grammar rules, technology can help you to add an element of excitement and give your students a reason to be more engaged in the classroom. For example, you could teach the meaning of the word ‘roll’ by asking your English learners to type the phrase ‘do a barrel roll’ into the search bar of Google and press Enter. Yes, the entire page will spin around once! In general, bear in mind that online activities are great allies when teaching English. A WebQuest or an online survey can usually motivate all learners (whether they are 9 or 39 years old!).
tip 💡 Take a moment to remember what it was like to learn English when you were young. There were activities that you loved and activities that seemed too boring, right? However, you do understand now that some of those activities you really disliked could be engaging for other students; your learning style and preferences were just different! That’s why we, at E-planet Educational Services, are firm believers in blended education. Each learner has a different learning style. And technology can offer much-needed help. Visual learners, auditory learners and kinaesthetic learners will embrace different exercises and projects; and that’s totally OK! While meeting the various needs of students is a challenge for all English teachers, technology can easily provide most learners with what will help them to improve faster: captivating images for visual learners, audio engagement for auditory learners and interactive activities for kinaesthetic learners!
⭕ Teaching of Culture
Technology can become a great ally when you want to focus on cultural awareness. There is no need to ask for more cultural input in the ELT textbooks you use; just say yes to task-based learning and discovery techniques that motivate your students.
For example, Google Streetview and numerous similar apps can help you to explore with your students so many British, American and Australian landmarks from the comfort of your classroom! Take a look at Big Ben, the Statue of Liberty or the Sydney Opera House, get your students excited and help them to understand that learning a foreign language is not about memorising new words and grammar rules; it’s about discovering a new way to see and comprehend the world!
tip 💡 An easy activity that all students usually love is adding a review to IMDb or a similar site. Have your students choose and watch an English film that has to do with cultural diversity, click ‘User Reviews’ and submit their detailed review. Well, all children and teenagers can easily view English learning as a necessary step in order to access the digital world and use technology. So, encourage them to pull out the big guns (aka their smartphones) and make every lesson much more interesting!
⭕ Learning Process
And if you’re wondering what can really speed up the learning process, the answer is… an e-learning program! Our e-learning platform, Learn English, offers access to a great variety of extra exercises and activities, well-crafted texts and videos, as well as real-life dialogues and talks by native speakers, which revise and recycle the material taught during lessons, providing a great learning experience.
The result? Not only a faster learning process, but also higher student retention and completion rates! Learn English is highly flexible and user-friendly and that’s why even children from the age of four enjoy using this program; they see it as a playful, interactive activity!
tip 💡 Another advantage of a good e-learning program is that it helps and motivates older learners to become more autonomous and take responsibility for their own learning. Independence when learning is an important pillar of success. And it is just easier to reach this goal when you can keep working on your language skills everywhere, any time of day or night!
⭕ Parent-Teacher Communication
Technology and new digital tools can also help you to communicate effectively with your students’ parents and make your daily life easier by providing an easy way to inform them about your young learners’ performance.
For example, with our mobile app, all parents of our students at E-planet English language centres can easily monitor their children's progress as frequently as they want. No more long and confusing email threads, lost paper sheets and quick after-school conversations!
⭕ Outside the English Language Classroom
Last but not least, you should also bear in mind that helping your students to understand how to use technology outside your classroom to improve their English skills in a fun way can tremendously improve their progress.
Teaching young English learners how to search for short videos with subtitles in English or how to create English songs playlists on YouTube can help a lot as extra reading and listening practice! In the same way, you could explain to your older students that Netflix can be easily turned into a sofa-based language lab! For example, what do they know about the free and handy tool ‘Language Learning with Netflix (LLN)’?
So, what do you think? How do you use technology to support your teaching methods? If you have something to share with our community, we are all ears! Leave a comment or connect with us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
And don’t forget that the E-planet Platform for English Teachers is always here for you. Well, tech tools can and should help not only students but teachers too!