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English Language Teaching Global Blog


Using multimedia in our classrooms

Students in lecture with digital gadgetsFollowing on from her posts, Why use a Teacher’s book? Part 1 and Part 2, Julietta Schoenmann, a language teacher and teacher trainer with over twenty years’ experience, considers the impact and hidden potential of using multimedia in teaching.

We know it’s out there and we know we ought to be part of it… yes, I’m talking about the digital revolution! We have observed the way it’s impacted on our work over the last decade or so and some of us have been quick to embrace the changes wholeheartedly.

However, many of us have been eased into this brave new world quite gently through the inclusion of MultiROMs with our course books and the replacement of the good old OHP with a swish new projector in our classroom. But what about that scourge of modern teaching, the interactive whiteboard? Or augmented reality which promises to transform learning through our smartphone? Or the fact that most of our students are far more techno-savvy than we are anyway?

What can we do as practitioners to not only keep up with the latest developments, but feel confident about implementing them in our classrooms? Let’s look at a few examples and consider ways in which we can make them part of our normal teaching toolkit.

Using an interactive whiteboard (IWB)

In my experience a lot of teachers are plain terrified of this piece of equipment, hence the reason why many of them have been installed in classrooms by progressive managers only to find them unused and gathering dust a few months later. Just think of it as a big computer monitor – it does all the things your PC does but BIGGER! In order to get the hang of it, it’s important to have some practice sessions without students sniggering at your bungled attempts to drag pictures across the screen or change the pen colour from red to black.

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Gems on the Web – Word Magnets 2.0

Russell Stannard, Winner of British Council Innovations Award 2010, writes about Word Magnets 2.0.

word magnetsI am always looking out for interesting tools that you can use with an interactive whiteboard. This latest find works great with an IWB but you can use it just as well on a computer screen or projector. The site is called Word Magnets and it is one of the best websites I have found in the last year.

The idea of Word Magnets is quite simple. You write a sentence, a paragraph or just a selection of words. You then press a button and each of the words becomes an individual word magnet and they are randmomized at the bottom of the screen. You can then move the word magnets around the screen and they will “stick” anywhere and make a nice sound too, which really gives the feel that you are working with word magnets. The obvious thing is to write out a sentence, create word magnets of all the words and then get the students to re-build the sentence as class or in pairs or groups if you have lots of computers at your disposal.  However you can do much much more with this tool.

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