The Positive Effects of Technology in the ESL Classroom
Within the past 20 years we have seen great advancements in technology. Mobile phones and laptops that are thinner than a short novel, voice activated software systems, robotics, high speed internet etc. Much of the world is now technologically developed, but often the ESL classroom is less so. However, in many areas there has been a gradual introduction of newer, more educationally oriented forms of technology in the classroom. From the introduction of the overhead projector and cassette players to modern day equipment such as Smart Boards and laptops. So what has been the effect of this technology in language learning?
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Joshua P.
How Technology Can Improve the Learning Experience
With the inclusion of technology the limits of learning are released, making the classroom a central point for outside information. In particular, the language classroom, from my experience, is often limited to resources that are predated; textbooks and worksheets often defined my time as a student in a language classroom. Nowadays, there are a variety of applications that teachers and students are able to use to reorganize the classroom. Teachers are able to set more interesting tasks for students, such as using PowerPoint in the classroom with gap-fill activities or interactive quiz shows that have questions and answers on a smart board that students can select. This allows teachers and students more variety in the classroom, which helps keep students, and teachers, motivated on the content.
How Technology Can Improve Engagement and Motivation
Finding out and developing the interests of students is often difficult. Some pretests and other questionnaires are designed to prompt students to inform teachers about their general interests, but even then, it can be difficult to gather whether or not that information is actually worth investing in as a teacher. Especially in this day and age, the current generation, depending on the place in the world, has access to the internet. The usage of internet in the classroom can help expand interests and maintain motivation in the classroom. For example, the use of YouTube or videos in the class, not only helps bring material that is not easily available into the classroom, but also can be used in conjunction with specific teaching methodologies.
For example, using the ESA lesson model, a teacher can Engage students with a video on a culturally significant point of a country. Student's can then revise the content learnt and focus on the accuracy of the language in the Study component. Lastly, due to technology, it is possible to ask students to create their own video, debate, television show, presentation, or PowerPoint, using any form of technology that is available in the Activate phase. Thus, the variety that can be provided expands, allowing students to avoid falling into a sense of repetition as often. Therefore teachers are not only engaging the students, but also they are creating motivation to learn more about the language through their interests.
Easy Access to Authentic Materials
From my experience, teachers would often try and provide authentic materials such as newspaper clippings or books, but usually, these materials were too difficult for anyone to understand, leaving students more confused. A major benefit that technology provides in the classroom is the option to create a lesson around the ability of the students. Some websites, such as ‘breakingnewsenglish’ provide simpler variations of harder texts that can vary for different levels, or ‘Kahoot’ where a teacher can design an interactive online quiz for their students based on authentic material. In addition to this, authentic materials are not just limited to videos and articles, but also access to more cultural understanding and in some cases even Skype sessions with a native speaker. Overall having this access to authentic materials reduces the amount of time a teacher is required to spend creating or searching. This gives teachers more time and opportunity to create more actively engaging classes for the students.
Removing the Boundaries of Traditional Teaching Methods
By isolating a language in a classroom with a teacher-student dynamic, the likelihood of repetition is high and can lead to a lack of motivation and interest. By bringing more technology into the classroom, that is designed appropriately and targeted towards the students' interests, the boundaries of teaching methodology and student interest can be expanded to greatly benefit both the student and the teacher. In conclusion, it is my opinion that the potential advantages of using technology in the classroom far outweigh any potential disadvantages.
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