Technology in the ESL Classroom - even if you are teaching in a hill
tribe or yak tent!
or enrage them is a quote from Mark Presnsky who believes that using
technology in today's primary classrooms is essential in order to
engage and motivate your pupils.
contains some fantastic ideas about using the internet and technology
in class and for homework. I learned these ideas at a big
conference where I was also speaking. The lecture was called
something like: Technology and the 21st century ESL classroom.
The speaker was from
To carry out
these ideas you need to be very well equipped with computers at school
and possibly at home, and children need digital cameras.
take heart, because if your school is not kitted out like the Star Trek
Enterprise you can stay abreast of developments nonetheless!
If you look
at the activities that I will describe, you'll see they
about human beings communicating with each other, and we've been doing
that for a long, long time, and you don't need a computer to do
The use of
websites and digital cameras is just the PACKAGING for the activity so
that your pupils will think it is cool. You can use all these
ideas just as well by adapting them.
So here is
the latest ESL BUZZ:
The buzz in teaching today is all about the "21st century"
classroom and integrating technology and producing students who are
ready to go into the work place.
In order to close the gap between what employers are looking for and
what is being taught in school teachers, in addition to English, should
- Work ethic
- Team work
You are probably thinking; "oh boy and I was having trouble with the
So here are some of the ways to integrate technology into your
classroom, which also allow for the development of other attributes on
the above list:
1. Making a class blog.
- Set up a
social network for the classroom.
- Only the
administrator can invite new members so that ensures that only your
class is on the network.
administrator can control content to ensure the site stays clean and on
- There is a
forum section where class members can post topic and comment on things
- all in English of course.
- You may post
homework up there so if someone misses class they can log on from home.
- Post class
projects, stories, upload photos, videos, put birthdays up there and
create a class blog.
It's straight forward to sign up and you may well be able to get help
from your pupils setting this up - someone in your class might love to
have that job.
One place where you may do all of the above is www.ning.com
2. Use a quiz site to
make quizzes and play online word games and multiple choice.
There are excellent vocabulary games on there and the children may work
at their own pace.
One such site is www.quizlet.com - a search on the
net will yield others.
3. Something we all love - Movies!
Find a site where children can make short video clips by uploading
three pictures and choosing the music.
These sequences can be about anything, such as my favorite movie,
family life, my ideal holiday, my best friend, my favorite band, or
whatever topic engages your pupils.
If you don't know then ask them!
Such a site as this is: www.animoto.com but you have to pay for that
These clips can be uploaded onto the class blog or social network and
You may set homework asking the children to decide which movie gets the
oscar and why and so on.
Let the children make up bizarre stories based on the clips.
The kids may comment on the videos in the forum.
4. Set imaginative homework such as making a
The example shown at the conference by IATEFL Hungary was a truly funny
inspiring video that
had been made by a group of four children aged about ten as a project
to explain hand symbols. They had picked hand symbols used
for scuba divers. One filmed, one narrated and two acted out
the symbols, fully equipped with diving masks, snorkels and standing
behind an aquarium one of them had in their home!
Now that film clearly let the children use their creativity, work
together as a team, learn something new and work independently of the
What an ideal way to engage your class.
5. Use a "Wiki".
A wiki is an interactive space for you and your pupils where people can
sign in, edit, add text and links and save their contribution. The wiki
space is refreshed each time someone edits it so it is constantly
changing. It's not like a blog which gets longer and longer, instead
you only keep the latest update to your group project.
Ideas for projects could be things like: making a list of what you need
to take on a group holiday, who will bring what and then deciding where
to go. Discussing and deciding which film the class would choose to go
to from a list of three, with links to the trailers. Books: kids with a
favourite book or comic do a review of them with a view to convincing
the rest of the class to read it too. Put up several reviews and vote
on the best. Then see how many of the class actually read it!
Grammar work could go up there and the pupils could mark it.
www.wikispaces.com are offering a free K-12 and adult
educational space at the moment if the space is public (i.e. anyone
could view it), you pay for private.
now my ideas on how you can do all of the above from your yak
tent or hill tribe village!
realise that many teachers are in remote areas and do not have access
to cameras, the internet and so on.
So of course you cannot implement these ideas in this way, but you can
adapt them. Never fear, we can actually survive and be creative without
internet and without techie gadgets! And, (gasp of amazement), many of
us made it through school without a mobile phone.
- Make a big
notice board instead of the blog. Kids stick up
their comments and pictures on pieces of paper.
- Use the
animoto.com idea using three pictures that the children draw or
cut out from old magazines or TV magazines.
- Tell the
children to prepare short plays to perform in front of the
class instead of filming them and showing the class on a
For those of you in countries where you do have access to the web then
go ahead and give these ideas a go.
For those of you in tepees, take the spirit of these ideas
and apply them creatively.
value in these ideas is that they lead pupils to be creative, to work
in a team, to be responsible for their own learning, to work
independently from the teacher, to express themselves and to feel part
of the learning process by actively participating in it.
All the best
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Shelley Vernon has helped 1000s of teachers be an inspiration to their
pupils and achieve results 2x as fast. Teaching ESL creatively! Free
classroom games and tips here:ESL
Primary Creative Games
Familiarizing students with technology is extremely beneficial and
might get them interested in pursuing one or more online degrees in