Integrating Technology in the Classroom
Did you know that modern technology can be very powerful in enhancing language learning and instruction? When used and integrated properly in the curriculum, it can be purposeful and can promote your learning objectives. However, the problem with these technological tools is that they are very passive. For example, a child cannot absorb information by sitting passively for hours watching television. Simply put, students need to have a well-balanced and integrated set of experiences to promote growth and learning; movies, videos, computer programs and television are all visually oriented, and hence can attract the students’ attention effectively.
Top 7 Tech Tools for Language Teachers – the Beginner’s Guide
How about setting up a class blog? To keep the blog alive, you can create one with individual pages for each student – it opens opportunities to write using the language they are studying. As the language teacher, you will need to fill your class blog with helpful articles. Students can also raise their questions on the blog and the teacher will answer for the entire class to see. This simplifies the work by not answering same question several times. Students who are absent may be notified for homework. As the ball gets rolling, your students will not only be leaving comments, they’ll be contributing to the blog by posting their own write-ups too.
Take your class to a ‘field trip’ without getting on a plane via Skype. Skype is a convenient way for students to meet new people, share their ideas or talk to their favourite book author, experts or other language teachers from across the world. When doing it for the first time,you can start integrating Skype in your teaching by ‘skyping’ another class in the school. Once you familiarized the use of Skype, you can easily build partnership with other language teachers from different parts of the world.
This is great when combined with a blog, as it can be listened to repeatedly. Unlike blogging, podcasting is more accessible because not all students have writing skills good enough to be confident in taking part in the class blog. Recording a podcast is very simple – it only requires a computer and recording software (even modern smartphones have recording features). Try downloading Audacity – it is freeware that lets you record and export mp3 files. Upload it to your class or school blog.
Unlike blogging, podcasting is more accessible because not all students have writing skills good enough to be confident in taking part in the class blog.
Twitter can be used in a plethora of ways for language teachers like you. Many teachers use it as a professional learning tool. For example, you can set up a profile where the students can follow you and then ask questions or offer ideas. You can create an account for your language class and share your ‘word of the day’ and other reading materials. Twitter is also a great way to share pictures or videos and get students to write brief descriptions or summaries of what you have posted.
Apart from blogging, language teachers can also set up their own class Wiki. A Wiki is simply described as a webpage that can be written and rewritten by multiple users. Take a look at Wikipedia – the classic example of what a Wiki looks like. Wiki is a great tool for sharing vocabulary, games and videos with your class. You can also set tasks using this tool. Many teachers use wiki as a way of sharing digital narrative written in different languages.
As far as teaching language is concerned, video sharing websites such as YouTube can be an unlimited resource for learning a foreign language. These days, many language teachers benefit from YouTube when it comes to writing tasks, listening comprehensions or starting discussions. Teachers can take advantage of using YouTube in the classroom and make lesson activities even more fun, engaging and meaningful. News reports, movie scenes, instructional videos and even music are all great ways to enhance a lesson plan.
With the recent popularity of iPads and smartphones, it is easier for language teachers to integrate mobile apps in the class. However, not all apps are made equal, and so, one should evaluate educational apps that are truly useful for your language teaching. A good example of a mobile app is Surface Languages – a free service that offers a variety of activities, including flashcards, and supports 38 languages. Teachers simply have to choose a language and pick a set of words to practice. Students can also use this app to improve their listening skills and pronunciation.
Introducing new technology can be intimidating, but as teachers we have to maintain a degree of responsibility and control in the classroom. Sometimes working with new materials that we do not feel confident using can be risky. If you are not very familiar with a specific type of technology, be honest and tell your students that you are trying out new tech tools. In some cases, students may be a bit more knowledgeable than the teacher; if this is the case make sure to get them involved and accept their advice or feedback.
What about you? What are some other technological tools you enjoy using in the classroom? Let us know!