In 2020, the use of technology has become an integral part of the ESL classroom and several studies show that the use of technology in a classroom has a positive impact on how students learn. Learning how to communicate in English isn’t just about memorizing grammar rules and vocabulary, it’s about solving complex problems and being able to collaborate with others in different situations. Using technology in the ESL classroom really helps teachers to make this a reality for students.
Here you can find some examples of different approaches that you can take with technology in your classroom. We are going to explore different areas of technology and how to exploit them.
1. ESL Blogging & Social Network communication
One good practice with technology that you can easily incorporate into your classroom is asking your students to interact with English-speaking people on their favourite social networks (i.e. Instagram). You can help them draft comments or translate messages and posts.
Another way to use Instagram to generate meaningful communication in English with your students is to create a challenge. Every day for one month, your students can post a picture using a certain #hashtag of your choice in the comments. They can comment on other students’ pictures, generating a nice flow of organic, real communication in English that you can use afterward to correct mistakes and identify future areas to work on.
If you are worried about your students and your privacy, adjust your visibility settings so that your class’ photos and videos are not public.
PRO TIP: encourage your students to switch their language settings in their apps to “English”.
Here at TtMadrid we love podcasts! They are a great resource for ESL teacher. You can use podcasts in a lot of different ways in order to help your students with their English language learning. Podcasts have tremendous pedagogical value – they are real material, made for a real English-speaking audience, and they are free to access, making them a perfect source for listening exercises in your classes.
There are podcasts in English about virtually any topic, which is very helpful so you can tailor the content to suit your students’ interests. If your student loves current affairs then you could find long or short news audios. Maybe something more succinct for lower levels and longer podcasts for higher levels. It can then be the source of a written or oral exercise.
For higher levels, you could even challenge your students to creating short podcasts on a topic of their choice. They would need to do research, plan it out, maybe even do interviews with their peers. It’s a great way for them to gain confidence in their speaking abilities too!
3. Language learning apps
Although it would be hard to incorporate these apps into your actual teaching practice, there is no doubt that some language learning apps can be extremely helpful, as they can be used anywhere, at any time, and they provide an excellent opportunity to practice and learn vocabulary and grammar. Here are some apps that could be helpful for your students:
This is one of the most popular ESL apps right now. Duolingo uses different forms of input, such as text, images and audio to help your students pick up the language like a native. It’s a great way to learn vocab especially.
Memrise is another free language learning app. It’s not as smooth as Duolingo, but it is easy to work with, supports offline learning and allows you to skip all the way through to more advanced lessons. Something unique about Memrise is how it teaches your students new words and phrases. Words are put into sentences with similar sounding words from your students’ native language to help them remember them.
Busuu is a hybrid between a language learning app and a social network. Your students can interact with other English speakers at the same time as learning on the platform. It is especially helpful if you have students that have to use English right away when communicating with native English speakers at work.
4. Translation Technology
Google Translate is an amazingly powerful tool that almost everyone uses when traveling or facing a text in a language that we don’t understand. But it also has a tremendous value as a teaching tool. Here are some ways in which you can use this app to help your students:
- Your students work in groups translating different sections of a text using Google Translate, and then regroup to put their parts into a full text, correcting the translation with the help of the teacher. Students can also compare their versions before producing a final text. This can then be compared with an ‘official’ published version.
- Students bring in examples of L1 texts for discussion and translation. Signs, professional texts or cultural information can be particularly interesting. Students translate the text using Google Translate. This can be an excuse to teach different text types and the differences that those text types have in both source and target cultures.
- A group of students translate a text and then other learners translate it back, then compare versions and discuss why there are differences. This can help a lot when trying to fix fossilized errors related to grammar.
5. Gamification of the ESL Classroom
Playing games is a very exciting and fun activity for people of all ages to spend time and we’ve written quite a few times about using games in our previous blogs. Our favorite gamification app during out TEFL course is Kahoot. Here you can find a great guide to use it in the language classroom.
We’re covering these and more ways to use technology in the ESL classroom during our courses and are always happy to hear from you guys about some new ideas you come up with. Email us or leave a comment on TtMadrid Facebook or Instagram accounts to share those with our community!