Study English at Internexus San Diego (sandiego.internexus.edu)
What do you think about when you hear the word “technology”? Do you think about enormous databases, drones, or online banking? Or maybe smart TVs? Apps? Tablets? Although seemingly very different, these diverse methods and devices all fall under the category of technology.
Let’s picture a classroom full of students who need to learn English in the fastest and the most effective way. Does technology have a place in this classroom? If so, how can it be utilized to facilitate learning in an ESL classroom, where there might be only one native English speaker, the teacher?
If you have some doubts how technology can be used there you have found the right article, because right now we are going to describe how technology can be a great tool to facilitate English learning and improve student performance.
In the modern educational world, the term “technology integration” is becoming one of the most popular pedagogical phrases, because that’s how educators describe the efforts to implement high-tech devices in the classroom. However, many teachers still have not fully grasped the meaning of the expression because of lack of personal use of these technologies, school funding limits, and even age.
Technology integration explained
This term is defined as the practice of integrating and interweaving technological means into educating and learning, which is supported by the school. There, that was not so difficult, right?
However, while the definition may sound simple, actual implementation is not. In fact, technology experts argue that there is a big difference between implementing the technology in the classroom and actually intertwining it with the education process. Bringing technology into a classroom might be easy for educators, but getting the most out of it isn’t a piece of cake. However, when used correctly, technology can transform the classroom into an advanced workstation that provides a wide range of benefits for both students and educators.
Benefits of using technology in an ESL classroom
1. Improves future opportunities for students
The age of technology is here to stay and it commands everything that employers might need in the workplace. In the future, even the most basic tasks will require some expertise in technology, so preparing students to use it before they graduate can greatly increase their chances for success on the job.
To ensure sufficient technological progress of learners in a classroom, an educator needs to provide materials that will keep students updated on the latest developments in the world of technology. For example, Marta Dowson, a senior educator from Proessaywriting.com, says that lessons could involve the use of the latest software and applications for professional use that might be used in the workplace.
Given that English is a global language which is featured in most, if not all, software products, students may also benefit from being exposed to and using apps and products in English-language to develop sufficient understanding of technical terminology.
2. Stimulates Motivation and Engagement
Many educational studies have shown that technology plays a critically important role in increasing engagement and motivation in the classroom. It provides an experience that is completely different from traditional learning and, in the form of apps and devices, allows learners to use exciting tools to paint, type, observe, and perform many other functions. It can turn a mundane biology lesson into a really fascinating one, with interactive experiences and powerful demonstration of the material.
In an ESL classroom, like any other one, motivation and engagement are really important for achieving the best outcomes. Educators need to understand the importance of incorporating technology in these classrooms because motivation and excitement are the main drivers behind language acquisition.
3. Fosters student independence
This is another great benefit of using technology that can have a powerful implication for those that continue to improve language skills at home or on the go. Computers, smartphones, tablets, and other devices can be used regardless of location to engage in meaningful learning, such as reading, listening, and performing material-relevant activities or exercises.
As the result of having learning materials at hand or available for download, students can become more independent, because by controlling when, where and how they access course information, they can partially assume the role of a teacher. For example, they can find text, read it, highlight the unknown words, locate them in an online dictionary and create their own home tasks. Or, they may use various online tools for language learning, such as Omniglot.com, EnglishGrammar.org, EnglishClub.com, Vocabulary.co and many others.
4. Allows learners to experience different cultures
By having access to the Internet in the classroom, students have the opportunity to tap into the target cultures by visiting sites from different English speaking countries. As a result, they can have a native experience of the language and see things that only English speakers typically access, such as news sites, sport-related sites, etc. They can literally visit all sites in the English language and learn the culture from native English speakers, which is a great advantage that would not be possible without the use of the internet or technology.
Now that we have listed the benefits of using technology in ESL classrooms, let’s review some great tools that can be used in the process.
Tools for the ESL classroom
This is a remarkable resource for an ESL teacher, basically serving as a storage of learning materials including grammar lessons, exercises, essay topics, tutorials, tools, and other useful things. It also provides key strategies for teachers to generate an effective learning environment, which is great for both experienced and new educators.
This site provides a great database of resources for teaching English as a second language online. It includes tools, articles, handouts, lesson plans, worksheets, training, language tests, polls, quizzes, and even glossaries and vocabulary materials. In other words, it is a go-to resource for ESL teachers who need materials for the class.
This site provides reviews of current research of different products and practices in education. According to the creators of WWC, their goal was to provide teachers with the information to make evidence-based decisions and improve the quality of learning. The website include sections such as literacy, math, science, behavior, teacher excellence, early children, post-secondary education, and more.
BBC Learning English is an English program that is most widely used by students from all over the world. It includes grammar and vocabulary lessons designed by some of the best British teachers, with great references to modern events from around the globe. It provides a unique learning experience that should be tried in all ESL classrooms. It even contains a section dedicated to ESL learning, which is not currently updated but can still serve as a valuable resource.