Today, teachers around the world are able to access Internet technology for use in the language classroom. The availability and variety of internet-based resources for language study increases on a daily basis.
Support Lesson Aims – Teaching English with Technology
For individual ESL teachers who are considering or already using technology in the classroom, the most fundamental question to ask is simple, yet often overlooked. It applies as well to all aspects of ESL teaching, and concerns purpose. Why use a particular technology? How does the use of a particular technology support language learning and the aims of the lesson? Does the use of a particular technology offer clear learning advantages over other options? In other words, you need to develop a clear pedagogical rationale in your mind for using technology, and ideally this rationale should be clear for your students as well. Technology, not unlike whiteboards and textbooks, can be an effective teaching and learning tool when used appropriately. But as a teaching tool only, technology should be used to support established language learning aims, and not as a starting point for teaching and learning.
Project-Based Learning – Teaching English with Technology
A sound approach would be to begin with a pedagogical framework, such as project-based learning. For example, perhaps you find that your students are having some excellent class discussions and raising great points on course topics, but you rarely seem to have enough time in class to allow students to fully engage in those discussions. You also notice that although some students have great ideas, they are reluctant to contribute. An online discussion board is one option to support and extend some of these conversations, and provide additional writing practice for students who already appear very motivated to contribute to the discussion. Also, the students who are quieter in class will have time to compose their thoughts without feeling the pressure to contribute that they may feel in a F2F classroom. An online discussion board can provide those students with learning opportunities they may not otherwise take advantage of in a F2F classroom. Making a contribution will also help quieter students to feel a greater sense of belonging and confidence that their ideas are worth considering as well. In situations like this, technology can offer opportunities for learning that are difficult to provide otherwise.
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