Technology has gained a more prominent place in classrooms in recent times and, as we discussed, the virtual classroom has the potential to take over learning. Students are now able to use additional technology to assist their learning, available (quite literally) at their fingertips – on mobiles, tablets and laptops. However, as a teacher, there are ways to incorporate these advancements into your lessons, making the most out of the resources available and, in turn, enhancing your students’ learning experience…
Hosting a book club in the classroom is a great way for students to continue their learning at home while still reaping the benefits in the classroom. Setting the class a set text over a holiday break is a great way to keep them reading and learning, knowing there will be a discussion and potentially a project on it when they return. See these nine great novels for learning English to get some ideas on which book to choose.
Independent tutor Lana Friesen is a digital learning pioneer and an expert on using technology to help her online students meet their goals. Lana cites Keynote and Microsoft Office’s PowerPoint as effective tools for teaching basic phrases and grammar: “The teacher can take notes for each student on the presentation itself, tailoring the file to them.”
Setting up an online forum or social media group for your class is a good way to communicate, start discussions and share news and relevant articles with each other. This will get your students practising their conversational writing skills, sentence structure and phrasing, while enjoying the interaction with each other. Boost this experience by connecting with another teacher in a different city or country; broadening your students’ learning circle and giving them the opportunity to build relationships – maybe even gaining them a pen-pal (or should that be “e-pal” in today’s digital age?)
According to our global survey of 6,000 English language learners, 44% of respondents said that speaking was the most difficult aspect of learning English. Teachers can use videoconferencing tools – in a similar way they would use forums – to bring in other learners and find support from other teachers. Discussions on a piece of literature or topics of interest can be enhanced by hosting a video forum with another classroom, allowing you and your students to gain additional insights. Watching films together is another way of improving listening, comprehension and speaking skills – with the added bonus of having the opportunity to discuss it afterwards.
Teaching the importance of listening
Podcasts are growing in popularity with English learners, allowing them to listen anytime and anywhere outside the classroom. There are podcasts tailored to learners of English and, like watching films, listening to these together in a classroom is a great way to initiate discussions within the class. Once your students have gained podcast-confidence, why not have them create their own, giving them the opportunity to improve their speaking skills? Have them prepare a presentation using this method that gets other students listening, providing feedback and asking questions.
With all these technological advancements making online and distance learning more readily available to students, not many can compare with learning in a classroom with a dedicated teacher. Using these tools to your advantage is a great way to move forward with technology, and give your lessons a creative edge.