Pros and Cons of Teaching English with Technology: It’s About Authentic Communication!

Teaching English with technology As a new teacher in Toronto, I have worked at a few of the city’s top language schools and I have had the chance to work with both textbooks and technology. Here’s my view on the pros and cons of using technology in the classroom and how teachers can provide the best service to their students.

Clare completed the 140-hour TESOL certificate with Practicum recognized by TESL Canada

Pros

1- Technology is more convenient and efficient, especially when iPads enter the classroom. One such school is doing so and teachers no longer have to worry about making photocopies or about marking paper rubrics. The textbook is an app on the iPad and teachers fill out their rubric in a specialized program at the end of the week. Students are encouraged to take notes on their iPad, so instead of taking a folder full of scattered notes home with them, they only take home one device containing everything. More importantly, students get to see their progress with various interactive activities that require them to record their speech.

2- Whether it means using a 100% digitalized curriculum or simply showing a You Tube video in the classroom, technology is very appealing to the current generation and to most people who, at the very least, use e-mail or a smartphone in every day living. It can liven up a class completely as long as the material being used is authentic.

3- Multimedia can be used a various stages of a lesson. You can use authentic material to present a grammar topic, or students can even use technology to create authentic material themselves at the production stage of a lesson! Technology is very stimulating for the senses and it allows students to engage with the outside world in a new and fresh way.

Read: Using the Internet in TESOL

Cons

1- The use of technology can easily give the appearance of sophistication and innovation but it can lose its sense of innovation very quickly if the material is not being exploited properly or if it is not authentic. The most important aspect of teaching ESL is to use relevant material that speaks to the students’ current life situation. For example, when teaching teenagers in Toronto, teachers can have students practice learning vocabulary related to romance and dating in a mix and match activity and phrasal verbs with the verb ‘make’ such as ‘make out’ or ‘make up’ and then have students work in groups to create an online dating profile, searching for pictures and ideas on google. Students must use the vocabulary and phrasal verbs they learned in class.

2- The school’s culture can easily become screen-focused which, in my opinion, is adding flames to the fire considering our current screen-obsessed culture. Time overspent on screens can easily cut us off from relating authentically with each other and can reduce healthy social interactive patterns.

3- Technology has a tendency to break or to be flawed. In my opinion, this can add a new and unnecessary layer of stress to the every day working routine of a teacher. Chargers break, tvs and projectors won’t turn on and digital textbook may have errors. Sometimes, good old paper just does the trick!

At the end of the day,  if you choose to teach English with technology, be sure to exploit the material as opposed to reading off text from a screen to students or simply showing them a video. There are some excellent authentic material ideas that can be manipulated to allow for fun, interactive and engaging lessons. Such examples include having students work in groups to create a commercial for a company using business English, having students work in pairs to create a radio bit where they discuss a fashion trend and record their debate about the trend’s negative and positive aspects using reported speech and vocabulary related to clothing such as attire, design, and bargain. At the end of the day, it’s important to have the students engage with the material so they feel they are in control and aren’t being talked at, such is often the case with the direct

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