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4 easy ways to incorporate technology into ELT (for you and your students)

girl with laptop in classroomLaura Austin, an ELT Consultant for OUP, presents 5 easy ways to learn, connect, communicate and develop in ELT using technology.

Technology per se doesn’t affect the language development of students learning English. However, I think you’ll agree that these are useful tools to explore to help support both you and your students.

Infographics* (for students)

There are infographics about history, culture, business – you name it, they exist. The Coolinfographics website is a great place to start. Why not use it to start off a debate? To generate interest in a topic area? Or to pre-teach vocabulary? Even for introducing those analytical skills needed for core exams. This one from the Onlineeducation.net is particularly interesting as it relates to student views on technology; might be a useful one to kick start the use of infographics in class.

*Thanks to Ollie Bray for this idea.

Twitter (for you)

Twitter helps you to reach out to other ELT professionals all over the world. Once upon a time you’d browse through various websites to find out about new methodologies and teaching ideas. Now, all you need is a Twitter account to follow all your favourite ELT authors; put them into a list and away you go. If you haven’t quite got it; then just spend 10 minutes a day following Tweets. You’ll get there in a couple of weeks and once you do you’ll never look back.

The most popular feature for ELT teachers is #eltchat – you can follow this hashtag twice a week for updates and topical ELT debates. Great to read and even better if you can participate. You can find more information on the website

Wikis (for students)

Wikis are a way to collaborate everything you have learnt with your class, incorporate new skills (such as peer editing) and encouraging students to communicate. Most importantly it gets students excited about publishing their work online.

Each class one student could take notes and post it on the class wiki. This could be used for revision and for absent students to catch up on. For a more collaborative effort, students can do this in small groups and save it on different pages, this effectively creates a Website – so the Wiki then contains a range of pages for students to browse. There is a range of software which helps you put together your class Wiki. One of the most popular being PBworks. It is simple and straightforward to use.

Movie Makers (for you)

I love the browsing through all the home made animated movies on youtube. There are a wide range of movie makers which make this so easy for you to make for your class. How does it work? All you do is import your text and choose your characters, select a background and away you go … a movie especially made for your class.

You could use it to pre-teach vocabulary or as an end of term treat you could even create a movie based around students in the class. Try Xtranormal for starters.

Have you used any of these in your classes or in your own time? Are there others you would recommend? Share your stories in the comments below.

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Harnessing the power of Web 2.0

Network cable connectors plugging into a blue Earth globeHaving considered the impact of Computer Assisted Language Learning and Computer Mediated Communication on the EFL classroom, Zöe Handley now examines how Web 2.0 technologies are changing the way students learn.

To begin, let’s look at the two main features which distinguish Web 2.0 from Web 1.0:

The first is the possibility for any web-user to create web pages for themselves without needing access to dedicated software and without learning to code in HTML. Wikipedia is probably the best known product of the ‘user-generated content’ revolution.

The second defining feature of Web 2.0 is its ‘social dimension’ – its ability to link together networks of users with common interests. Facebook is perhaps the most popular application of this type.

But what does it mean for teachers of English as a Foreign Language?

User-generated content

The ‘writable web’ (Kárpáti, 2009) has drawn attention from EFL researchers for a number of reasons. Firstly, it makes it easier for teachers and students to publish their writing, which means it is easier for teachers to set up authentic writing activities with “a real purpose and real audience” (Mak and Coniam, 2008: 438). Secondly, outside education, the ease of publication and the social dimension of Web 2.0 have encouraged users to communicate through writing; and in large quantities, too (Kárpáti, 2009). If this can be harnessed in EFL teaching, Web 2.0 technologies such as wikis, blogs, and fan fiction sites (e.g. Live Journal) have the potential to overcome one of the greatest challenges teachers face – getting students to write! Finally, technologies such as wikis, which keep a log of edits to an article, provide students with a ‘window on the writing process’ (Karpati, 2009).

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Motivating Adult Learners – 15 ways to use a Wiki

Group of smiling young adults around a laptop in a library

Shelly Sanchez Terrell returns with the next in the series of tools for motivating adult learners, focussing on the use of Wikis to continue learning outside the classroom.

My adult English language learners live in a country where they are surrounded by their native tongue. They sincerely want to learn English and show motivation in our lessons, but when they leave the classroom the reality is they will continue to speak their native tongue. Language teachers know that the quickest and most effective way to learn a language is to use the language. I have found a way to motivate my adult students to continue to use English while they are not in my class. I have set-up a wiki with resources and tasks to reinforce their learning.

A wiki is effectively a class website, but easier to design. Wikis are free for educators and are advertisement-free if you sign-up at Wikispaces for Educators or PBWorks for Educators. Both of these sites provide you with a variety of tools to embed (insert on your wiki page) to help students collaborate and build a language learning community full of resources.

Preparation

You do not have to be a web expert to set-up a wiki. Wiki platforms provide you with several options to embed various web 2.0 tools, links, and more. You will need to set-up an account, name your wiki, pick a template, upload a header, and create pages. Show your students how to use the wiki after you set it up. I like to set up my wiki based on the themes we learn in class. In my adult wiki, students find resources for idioms, cultural differences, vocabulary, phrasal verbs, and more. The homepage contains links to their most recent assignments.

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Creative Ideas for Language Learning with Moodle

Written by Phil Bird.

Moodle logoMuch has been written about the uses of Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) in education; here I want to look at specifics – how can Moodle be used to support language learning?

I would like to present here some of the tools and techniques that I have used with my learners.

Interaction with Web Content

Don’t just add a link to a website. If you add it to a forum, you can get some fantastic language production. For learners working at a lower level I have used simple travel information websites to get students to ask for and give travel directions (many cities have public transport journey planners available online). I have also asked students to use online shopping sites to find presents for people in the class, having given them an imaginary £50 to spend.

Forums appear to be best for fluency practice, but as they leave a written record, they work very well for identifying individual students’ error patterns. While accuracy corrections online in a public forum are probably inappropriate, there is nothing to stop you printing off the forum page for each student and marking their corrections on it. For learners who have a low-level of confidence or accuracy in the target language, you can use the forum to get them to plan out a conversation, which they can then try out without that scaffold. For learners working at higher levels you can greater exploit forums for fluency practise. For example, add a few links for travel and tourist information, suggest places to go and the best way to get there (justifying their choices, in the target language, naturally). I have also had students find courses they want to study and job vacancies and explain what they find interesting, or why they think that they are suitable. This could be a great way to get learners to continue practising outside lesson time. Ask learners to debate a topic on the forum and use posts as stimuli for discursive writing.

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