The Role of Digital Learning for Generation-Z ESL Students
More or less,20 years ago students who tried to learn a new language used to have Mr.and Mrs. Brown books, cassettes,language labs or the lucky ones would have to have a trip to the countries providing language courses which promised them to teach English in a month or so.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Seda K. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
But now the case is getting more different. With the improvement of technology, we have come to an age that the kids born after the 2000s, can not make a life without using these technological developments. The kids who are in their 15s, don’t know a life without cell phones, video calls, or online shopping. Although there has been no definite dictionary meaning of ‘generation z ‘ yet, these kids are learning better, consuming information faster, growing up earlier than the previous generation. In this article, I would like to discuss how the digital era is affecting the path of learning or teaching English to Generation Z.
Pros and cons of digital learning
Whilst among academicians and parents there have been arguments over which one is superior to one another, schooling or digital learning; when a teenager is asked, he would probably go for the digital learning undoubtedly. But why? Of course, there have been some good reasons for that whether we accept it or not. Yet, this sounds a little bit scary in terms of classical teaching methods which make a teacher ‘a teacher’, and lessen the real teaching environmental effects on students. As the very first reason, the students are feeling safer and freer in the house environment. They don’t have to wake up early, no one is forcing them to speak in front of the public, they can learn everywhere even in the bathroom! They can download tonnes of information, tests, books and do online reputable courses, or even complete master-degrees. And this World is given to them sometimes for free or a small amount of money. The opportunity of reaching the information easily and in a quick way makes learning activity more enjoyable. They can choose the teacher they want, they can pick the courses whenever they want, they can drop or take them back. And they can all do that simply by downloading some apps on their phones or pads.
Also Read: Reasons Why I Suggest Taking a TEFL Course
English and online gaming
Once, I asked one of my students how she could improve her English that much as I was dazzled when I noticed that although she was not studying regularly and getting good scores from my Exams, she simply answered that it was thanks to online gaming. As one of the members of Generation Y, I could not figure it out at first and it was so scary and felt unsafe to me, I have started to think about if that was helpful for English acquisition faster as a second language. This has been taking my attention so much that I have started to play some games online. Having constant communication by messaging each other, or making a video call with a native speaker friend gives you a lot. You have one choice to win the game! Communicate!
For certain, there must be some discussions over online teaching and learning, but digital learning is definitely a shortcut for most of the students now. The problem is the English you are getting from others on online platforms is not gentle or formal all the time, so the students should be aware of the words or structures in the process.
I have met many ads or click bait of many teachers recently, who are tutoring English lessons to the students overseas. ‘’learn English from American native teacher ‘ Would you like to talk British Accent ‘ etc. These ads mean that the teachers who are from generation Y, have started to believe more in the uses of English and teaching it globally and there should be no borders! Plus, the students don’t need to have a visa to have courses from a native English teacher. Video teaching, youtube teachers, online worksheets, the tests which allow a student to watch and follow the learning phase makes Generation Z understand they do not have to attend a real, face to face classes to learn English. Well, is this a problem? How can we protect our kids or students from learning bad grammar or structures? How can we as teachers make our classes more integrated with digital elements to prevent them from getting bored with a normal classroom activity? As I have found out that whatever I am planning to talk about before the lesson, they have more ideas. They have seen it before, they have watched it before, they have done it before. Considering the hours students are spending online, Elt World needs to take big steps to deal with before internet usage or digital learning conquer our classes. Doesn't it feel like teachers will be replaced by AI soon?
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As a conclusion, I believe we should integrate more digital elements in our classes as the students are finding teacher-centered , books aided, push-ups, forced group activities dull and not fun anymore day by day. As generation Y teachers, instead of resisting old English teaching methods, we should adapt ourselves to things of the new generation. They need to hear and see or touch the screen. We can turn this to the advantage by making them online friends with each other, by improving more digital software which lets them grow their skills in English. With a good lesson plan, we can even organize an online game and help them to communicate. So they can attend and follow the class or the teacher whenever they want until the deadline. By giving enjoyable video assignments, video lessons, sharing real class experiences, activating a social media account for our English classes more students will be active and volunteer to join the activities. The rest, they will be managing somehow! So the question is now: more is less? OR less is more?
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