How advanced is your classroom?
Are you still teaching the old-fashioned way, with whiteboards and markers?
If so, it’s time to get with the program and take full advantage of the latest, greatest educational tech.
Kiss smudged sentences written on the whiteboard and marker stains on your hands goodbye. Join the technological revolution!
Some of my most successful ESL lessons have been taught in high-tech classrooms.
In fact, some of the best English lessons taught to native English speakers were also in modern classrooms.
To put it simply technology makes everything easier.
From interactive smartboards to tablets fully-loaded with language-learning apps, educational tech has revolutionized the way we teach and learn.
And while it may feel overwhelming at first if you’re not a computer geek, once you get the hang of teaching with technology, you’ll never want to go back to the old days of blackboards and chalk.
Step out of the Dark Ages and Start Teaching English with Technology
As teachers, it’s our job to make sure students are engaged and excited to learn more.
In the old days, creating an exciting learning environment took loads of creativity and hours of preparation. But thanks to technology, delivering a high-quality, engaging lesson is easier than ever.
That’s because technology opens up the door for hands-on learning in the classroom. From interactive grammar lessons to engaging conversational practice, classroom technology helps enhance the learning experience of your students. As a result, your class will be eager to get more involved in the lessons.
Want to learn how you can use technology to diversify your curriculum and improve student engagement? Read on to learn which gadgets and apps you can incorporate in your lessons, and how you can do it.
High-tech Tools for Every Type of English Classroom
Regardless of whether you’re an ESL instructor or teaching English to first-language students, these gadgets and apps will help you maximize engagement and make your lessons more effective.
Engaging Apps for Your Tablet
Tablets are a useful tool to have in the classroom and can be used in many different ways. You can let your students use them as note-taking devices, or you can use them to provide students with interactive supplementary learning material. As the teacher, you can even download various apps to help you manage the classroom and monitor your students’ progress. Here are some great apps you should incorporate them into your English teaching:
- FluentU: FluentU is an innovative language-learning app available for Android and iOS devices that helps ESL teachers deliver engaging, real-world content in a way that’s fun and easy to understand.
That way, students don’t just learn how to communicate naturally and more effectively, they also gain deeper insight into the culture of various English-speaking countries around the world.
- Quizlet: This site allows you to create a wide range of learning material which students can access on their Android and iOS devices. Great for first-language and ESL teachers, Quizlet lets you create flashcards and interactive activities that help your students learn, review and practice grammar and vocabulary through interactive drills and exciting games.
- Game Show Studio: Use your tablets as tools to transform your lesson into a game show! Currently only available for iOS devices, Game Show Studio allows you to program iPads to act as buzzers, enabling you to turn an everyday quiz into a competitive round of trivia. As such, this app can be used to enhance any type of classroom, not just ESL lessons, and is perfect for making your lessons more actionable.
- iMovie: Another great app for iOS and Mac users, iMovie allows for the simple creation of short films and intuitive editing. English teachers can use iMovie to enhance speaking-based lessons, having students write their own scripts, which they act out while filming short movie clips. You could even organize a movie screening afternoon or evening and show all your students; films, and if you have time, host an awards ceremony afterwards where they have to give acceptance speeches.
Tools for Connecting with Other ESL Classrooms
If you’re an ESL teacher, try using your tablets or computers to connect your classroom with other English classes around the world. With Skype or FaceTime (for Mac and iOS users), you can host video chats between your classroom and other ESL or native-English classrooms. Think of it as the modern version of pen-pals, this enables your students to learn about other cultures in an exciting and interactive way.
Tip: If you’re working in a foreign country and have teacher friends working in an English-speaking country, you might try to connect your ESL students with a native-English speaking class.
Podcasts are a great way for all types of teachers to expand on various topics.
For ESL teachers specifically, podcasts work in two ways:
- They offer a wealth of interesting topics for your students.
- They’re great for testing listening comprehension.
What’s more, podcasts help ESL students expand their vocabulary while learning how to speak more naturally in both formal and informal settings, depending on the type of podcast. Better@English offers dozens of real-life, conversation-based podcasts specifically designed specifically for ESL students. You can use these podcasts at the beginning of a lesson as a warm-up activity to introduce the day’s topic or as a listening comprehension activity with exercises to follow.
Another great ESL podcast is Culips. This site provides several series of podcasts, including English conversations at various speeds, as well as podcasts covering idioms and common expressions. You can build a lesson around an individual podcast or use them just to add a little something to your lessons.
And if you want something quick and easy, The English We Speak is a short, vocabulary-focused podcast hosted by the BBC. If you’re looking to boost your students’ vocabulary, encourage them to listen to the weekly updates and take notes on what they’ve learned.
Teaching with Smartboards
Smartboards are interactive whiteboards that can be used to enhance any type of educational setting, allowing teachers to incorporate pictures, diagrams and other types of resources into their classroom notes. For English teachers, smartboards are especially useful for turning language lessons into hands-on learning experiences. Here’s how:
Flipped Classrooms: A smart-board can be very useful if you wish to implement a flipped classroom scenario. A growing trend in education and teaching, flipped classrooms encourage students to do most of the initial learning at home. They listen to lectures, watch related videos and utilize study materials in their own time before the official classroom lesson.
As the teacher, it’s your job to review the content with the students during the in-class learning sessions. This is where smartboards come in handy, as they enable you to pull up resources from the internet, display students’ personal notes and incorporate multimedia into the review sessions—effectively enhancing the flipped classroom scenario.
Virtual Field Trips: If you don’t have the time or resources to take your class on an actual field trip, use your smartboard instead! Take your students out of the classroom for a little exploring. There are several different types of virtual field trips you can use in your lessons from Discovery Education, including a literary adventure that teaches your students about Shakespeare and a visit to the Library of Congress. Before going on your field trip, provide your students with a worksheet of questions they’ll have to answer at the end of the “trip” to encourage careful listening and active engagement.
If you have a class that is particularly interested in art or you want your students to practice their adjectives and art-related vocabulary, take them on a tour of the Louvre. Or you can expose your students to other cultures and countries by taking virtual tours of famous places around the world courtesy of AirPano, a company that specializes in taking panoramic photos and videos of some of the world’s most beautiful locations. These tours are highly visual and provide a great opportunity for students to practice describing what they see. You may even ask them to write a small report about what they witnessed at the end of the lesson or as homework, making virtual field trips a great resource for both first and second-language English teachers.
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Bringing Technology into Your English Lessons
As you can see, technology can be used to seamlessly enhance your English lessons. Whether you’re teaching native speakers and want to expand on challenging concepts or you need to provide interactive examples for your ESL classroom, tools like smartboards, tablets and learning apps make it easy to engage with your learners.
Don’t waste another minute. Take advantage of these technological devices and teaching strategies so you can expose your English students to the full benefits of the modern classroom.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to teach English with real-world videos.