How Can We Effectively Integrate Modern Technology into The Classroom?
As technological advances are made in the world the ways to teach English and the resources available to us expand in the classroom setting; from computers, laptops, and interactive websites to cameras, projectors, and even robots that understand spoken language. As introduced in the TEFL course, in particular, unit 17: equipment and teaching aids, there are many pieces of technology we can utilize in the classroom to make learning more interesting and motivate students or simply aid teachers in presenting listening and speaking material. As suggested in research conducted by Mistler - Jackson and Butler Songer (2000), students learning science using a technology involved course resulted in highly motivated students. In this summative essay, I want to explore the kind of technology that is available in the modern classroom, how this equipment can be applied to a lesson on how it may benefit students. Lastly, I will explore some potential problems that may arise from using technology whilst presenting some possible solutions.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Leonie H. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
The type of technology available in the classroom:
Unit 17 of the TEFL course suggests using a cassette recorder for listening activities, however, the modern classroom has since upgraded to using CD players and even laptop computers to play digital files through speakers which were common practice at a teaching placement I took part in at a high school in Australia. Grammar can be presented and introduced in the form of PowerPoints and Prezi, in a clear and easy to understand format as well as generating visual interest with images and photos. Lastly, access to the internet is the biggest advance in technology that has changed the educational setting. As suggested in unit 20 of the TEFL course the internet can provide many resources for teachers that can be accessed through a range of websites that can be used to supplement the textbook. Online quizzes can also be made for placement or diagnostic tests or even as a summative assessment (similar to this TEFL course). Drawing from Jeremy Harmer’s language learning methodology. introduced in Unit 3 of the TEFL course, technology can be applied to all aspects of learning, from the engage stage using authentic materials on the internet to interest students, to the study part of the lesson in the form of drilling or practicing grammar, to the use of grammar points and vocabulary in the activate stage. Many devices are also able to access the internet, such as phones, laptops, tablets, and interactive boards. All of which can be used to present information and can be utilized in a range of ways.
Employing technology in the classroom
When I attended a placement at an Australian high school teaching psychology I had many resources available to me, including using an interactive whiteboard and access to the internet. There were also iPads available to loan out to students when necessary, expanding the possibilities of language teaching in the classroom. With these, we used websites such as quizlet.com and kahoot.com to test knowledge learned and understanding of information. Presented ideas and theories using PowerPoint and we used a YouTube video showing common scenarios involving the bystander effect as a means of engaging students and introducing them to a new unit. With these experiences with technology in the classroom, I believe it is possible to apply them to an ESL classroom setting. Many great ideas have been introduced during the TEFL course such as using a video as part of the engage phase of language learning to generate interest and allow students to want to express their ideas in English. In the study phase we can utilize PowerPoints which minimizes writing time which is a problem brought up in unit 5 of the course, the suggested solution was to use an overhead projector however as a more modern solution would be a laptop paired with a projector or a TV. This allows more time to focus on the explanation of the grammar. In the next part of the study phase, it is possible to use language study websites such as duolingo.com or memrise.com to help consolidate what they have learned as a drill. And lastly, the application stage can involve using technology to employ the grammar and vocabulary students have learned into a media piece, such as a written report made to look like a newspaper clipping or a short film.
Problems and how to resolve them
Although using technology has many positive effects within the classroom some problems may arise by planning a class that relies heavily on it. We have to keep in mind that firstly that not all classrooms are equipped with this technology, such as digital projectors or access to the internet. So as a teacher it is important to be aware of what is available for use while preparing materials, such a PowerPoints or websites, and planning a lesson that utilizes accessible technology. Secondly as explored within Unit 17 there are some disadvantages to using some electronic equipment (in the unit cd players and interactive whiteboards are mentioned), these involve using the technology appropriately and planning a backup in case equipment is faulty or doesn’t function as expected. During my placement, there were instances where the internet couldn’t be accessed or files were corrupted and refused to open. To avoid wasting class time or getting flustered, formulating alternative activities, or a lesson that doesn’t require the use of any kind of technology is a way to overcome this.
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As the classroom and technology changes, so do we as educators to embrace the many possibilities to teach English and use it as a tool to motivate students and make learning fun and interesting. Though it is important to be flexible in case of errors and use technology efficiently rather than for the sake of using it. By keeping this in mind using technology in the classroom can be very beneficial for English learning.
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