It’s no secret that technology has become more central in our everyday lives than ever before. It helps us in every aspect of our lives, from health and fitness to creativity and social communication. As we discussed, an estimated 22 million students are benefiting from the online distance learning industry, which is worth around $70 billion (£45 billion). But how can students benefit from today’s technological advancements in the four skill areas to make their learning as well rounded as possible? Find out below.
With the rise of iPads, tablets and e-readers like the Kindle, we’ve come accustomed to a more interactive reading experience, which is a wonderful feature for English learners. Functions like click-to-define, vocabulary builders, and downloading whole texts at the touch of a button are all beneficial to a learner looking for a fun and effective way to improve their reading and writing in particular. It can help to expand your vocabulary and expose you to different sentence structures: start by reading our pick of nine great novels to improve your English.
One of the most well-known technological advancements for writing is the unassuming word processor. Simple tools such as a dictionary and a thesaurus help writers expand their vocabulary, while spelling- and grammar-checkers are helpful to find and correct errors. Moving forward to the internet age and online forums are a widely used channel for learners to communicate and learn from one another using the written word. This is also a great alternative for those who don’t have the opportunity to converse with a native speaker face to face.
They began as simple audio on a cassette tape and today’s audiobooks have taken over the literary world. As we found in our global survey of 6,000 English language learners, 44% of respondents said speaking was the most difficult aspect of learning English. When it comes to improving both comprehension and speaking skills, extensive listening is highly recommended. Listening to and reading text at the same time is a great way to start and Kindle’s Whispersync for Voice technology is designed for just this purpose. It includes audio with selected books, so you can listen and follow the text as you read.
Podcasts are also becoming more popular with English learners, with the ability to listen anytime, anywhere, and English language podcasts are a great way to improve your listening skills. Here are some popular podcasts to try: Listen to English by Peter Carter, Elementary Podcasts by the British Council and Luke’s English Podcast.
Giving learners the advantage of communicating in real-time conversations with English speakers, probably the most exciting (and futuristic) technological advancement has come in the form of Skype and FaceTime. Tools such as video-conferencing also offer teachers the opportunity to link to other classes around the world, also gaining support from other teachers and students.
There are many new apps on the market for speaking with other learners, such as CoffeeStrap and HelloTalk – meaning you can converse with native speakers right from your phone. No webcam required anymore!
These technological advancements can help you advance in your English learning; you just need to take advantage of them and they’re right at your fingertips.