Technology is ubiquitous in the modern classroom.
This lesson addresses how teachers can take advantage of the benefits of technology in an English as a Second Language (ESL) classroom.
ESL Learners & Technology
Today, many classrooms come equipped with technology, including computers, video projectors, and screens, so sharing different types of media is easy and convenient. In addition, nearly all students have access to online resources, dictionaries, games, and instant communication through their own smartphones. This personalization of technology can be a challenge for teachers, but also an amazing opportunity.As a teacher, it can sometimes be difficult to know when and if technology should be used in the classroom. The simple fact is that traditional, analog models of education are becoming increasingly outdated and even unrealistic in some situations. English as a Second Language (ESL) students in particular benefit from technology in a number of ways.
This lesson focuses on two of these benefits:
- Instant access to specific information
- Enhanced audio and visual experience
Technology in Schools
Each teacher and student has a different level of technology available. Any of the following can be used depending on accessibility and need:
- School computer lab
- Electronic dictionaries and translators
- Personal smartphones
- Personal computers/tablets
- Classroom computer
- Classroom AV equipment (video projector/screen)
When you assign ESL students a task, their first thought is likely to be, I’ll look it up on the Internet. While this is a valuable option, it shouldn’t necessarily be the first choice.
Students should initially rely on their own knowledge before turning to a digital dictionary or translator. While these tools should be secondary, they are hugely beneficial, especially for learners just beginning their English learning journey.English vocabulary and idioms are full of nuances and shades of meaning, and many times the same word can have different meanings depending on the context. One of the greatest difficulties ESL students have is differentiating meanings based on context. Technology can greatly reduce this difficulty by providing clear and relevant definitions and usage examples.
In addition, the Internet can provide information in a student’s native tongue, enabling them to better understand and assess information.
Videos, interactive games, and audio recordings can augment a lesson in a number of ways. When students see English in action instead of simply hearing the teacher speak, comprehension can increase significantly.
Visuals help to cement auditory information, so try following an oral lecture with a supporting video or audio clip. When visuals are used to supplement oral information, students are given cognitive reinforcement.The power of technology to deliver a multi-faceted educational experience is a huge benefit to ESL students.
They will not only learn new features of the English language, but also feel that modern innovation is a vital component of their learning experience. Videos, audio, and gaming provide a framework in which you, the teacher, can take full advantage of the abundant resources made available by modern technology.
Too Much Technology?
It’s important to note that, for an ESL learner, technology should be an aid, not a crutch. If students rely too heavily on electronic English translators and dictionaries, the learning process will be stunted. These amazing tools should be primarily used to check and confirm, not as an instant answer key. In an ESL classroom, the focus should remain firmly on improving English language skills with technology as a strong supporting character.
Technology, such as computers, AV equipment, smartphones, and electronic dictionaries and translators, can provide educational benefits, particularly for ESL students. Technology can provide instant access to specific information. When visuals are used to supplement oral information, students are given cognitive reinforcement. If teachers are aware of the potential for using technology as a crutch, they can ensure that students develop their minds and use technology appropriately as an aid.