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.
Although there are numerous visual aids that the modern ESL teacher can use in the classroom (Smart Whiteboards, overhead projectors, PowerPoint presentations, etc.), the board is still an effective and valuable teaching tool that can be used in many different ways at different stages in a lesson. Even in classes where the teacher uses a PowerPoint presentation or any other type of technology, there could be a need for jotting down some words on the spot to show spelling or pronunciation, or simply for underlining some key concepts on the board.
A class wiki can be a never-ending source of material and motivation for your students. Sometimes, shy students flourish when they are given the chance to ‘voice’ their thoughts and opinions with wikis, and once their confidence is boosted and they get recognition for their collaboration, they find that participating orally in class is easier. Other times, students who often ‘over-participate’ in class find their outlet on the wiki and then tend to give others a chance as well once back in the classroom.
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Nowadays keeping students interested in class can be a bit of a challenge. As teachers, we find ourselves competing – so to speak – with the students’ ubiquitous cellphones and never ending distractions. Often students would rather be checking their Facebook accounts or sitting in front of the computer surfing the net, rather than doing the homework assigned for their ESL class or reading a book in English so as to practice and improve their language skills. One very effective way to increase students’ interest in your class and their daily interaction with the language is to create a wiki and have students collaborate in it.
There are many reasons for making use of the internet in TESOL. More and more people are doing a great percentage of their daily business on the web. It is an environment they are comfortable navigating, and one that they’re using English all the time. It doesn’t make sense any longer to leave it out of their learning program. Furthermore, the internet provides endless quantities of authentic language resources, all available within seconds. Internet materials like videos, forums and new sites are fun, rich and dynamic in ways textbooks so often are not. Last, teaching English while students use the web provides opportunities for more independent learning; you are giving them skills that they can use forever.
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.