Technology in the ESL Classroom

The following is a guest post written by Michael Gorman, highly skilled editor and proofreader. If you would like to submit a guest post, please contact us.

What do you think about when you hear the word “technology”? Do you think about enormous databases, drones, or online banking? Or maybe smart TVs? Apps? Tablets? Although seemingly very different, these diverse methods and devices all fall under the category of technology.

Let’s picture a classroom full of students who need to learn English in the fastest and the most effective way. Does technology have a place in this classroom? If so, how can it be utilized to facilitate learning in an ESL classroom, where there might be only one native English speaker, the teacher?

If you have some doubts how technology can be used there you have found the right article, because right now we are going to describe how technology can be a great tool to facilitate English learning and improve student performance.

In the modern educational world, the term “technology integration” is becoming one of the most popular pedagogical phrases, because that’s how educators describe the efforts to implement high-tech devices in the classroom. However, many teachers still have not fully grasped the meaning of the expression because of lack of personal use of these technologies, school funding limits, and even age.

Technology integration explained

This term is defined as the practice of integrating and interweaving technological means into educating and learning, which is supported by the school. There, that was not so difficult, right?

However, while the definition may sound simple, actual implementation is not. In fact, technology experts argue that there is a big difference between implementing the technology in the classroom and actually intertwining it with the education process. Bringing technology into a classroom might be easy for educators, but getting the most out of it isn’t a piece of cake. However, when used correctly, technology can transform the classroom into an advanced workstation that provides a wide range of benefits for both students and educators.

Benefits of using technology in an ESL classroom

1. Improves future opportunities for students

The age of technology is here to stay and it commands everything that employers might need in the workplace. In the future, even the most basic tasks will require some expertise in technology, so preparing students to use it before they graduate can greatly increase their chances for success on the job.

To ensure sufficient technological progress of learners in a classroom, an educator needs to provide materials that will keep students updated on the latest developments in the world of technology. For example, Marta Dowson, a senior educator from Proessaywriting.com, says that lessons could involve the use of the latest software and applications for professional use that might be used in the workplace.

Given that English is a global language which is featured in most, if not all, software products, students may also benefit from being exposed to and using apps and products in English-language to develop sufficient understanding of technical terminology.

2. Stimulates Motivation and Engagement

Many educational studies have shown that technology plays a critically important role in increasing engagement and motivation in the classroom. It provides an experience that is completely different from traditional learning and, in the form of apps and devices, allows learners to use exciting tools to paint, type, observe, and perform many other functions. It can turn a mundane biology lesson into a really fascinating one, with interactive experiences and powerful demonstration of the material.

In an ESL classroom, like any other one, motivation and engagement are really important for achieving the best outcomes. Educators need to understand the importance of incorporating technology in these classrooms because motivation and excitement are the main drivers behind language acquisition.

3. Fosters student independence

This is another great benefit of using technology that can have a powerful implication for those that continue to improve language skills at home or on the go. Computers, smartphones, tablets, and other devices can be used regardless of location to engage in meaningful learning, such as reading, listening, and performing material-relevant activities or exercises.

As the result of having learning materials at hand or available for download, students can become more independent, because by controlling when, where and how they access course information, they can partially assume the role of a teacher. For example, they can find text, read it, highlight the unknown words, locate them in an online dictionary and create their own home tasks. Or, they may use various online tools for language learning, such as Omniglot.com, EnglishGrammar.orgEnglishClub.com, Vocabulary.co and many others.

4. Allows learners to experience different cultures

By having access to the Internet in the classroom, students have the opportunity to tap into the target cultures by visiting sites from different English speaking countries. As a result, they can have a native experience of the language and see things that only English speakers typically access, such as news sites, sport-related sites, etc. They can literally visit all sites in the English language and learn the culture from native English speakers, which is a great advantage that would not be possible without the use of the internet or technology.

Now that we have listed the benefits of using technology in ESL classrooms, let’s review some great tools that can be used in the process.

Tools for the ESL classroom

EverythingESL

This is a remarkable resource for an ESL teacher, basically serving as a storage of learning materials including grammar lessons, exercises, essay topics, tutorials, tools, and other useful things. It also provides key strategies for teachers to generate an effective learning environment, which is great for both experienced and new educators.

UsingEnglish

This site provides a great database of resources for teaching English as a second language online. It includes tools, articles, handouts, lesson plans, worksheets, training, language tests, polls, quizzes, and even glossaries and vocabulary materials. In other words, it is a go-to resource for ESL teachers who need materials for the class.

What Works Clearinghouse

This site provides reviews of current research of different products and practices in education. According to the creators of WWC, their goal was to provide teachers with the information to make evidence-based decisions and improve the quality of learning. The website include sections such as literacy, math, science, behavior, teacher excellence, early children, post-secondary education, and more.

BBC Learning English

BBC Learning English is an English program that is most widely used by students from all over the world. It includes grammar and vocabulary lessons designed by some of the best British teachers, with great references to modern events from around the globe. It provides a unique learning experience that should be tried in all ESL classrooms. It even contains a section dedicated to ESL learning, which is not currently updated but can still serve as a valuable resource.

Concluding Thoughts

Whether you are a student or a teacher in an ESL classroom, you can find some interesting insights and tools in this article. Remember, learning English should be fun, and technology is a way to ensure excitement and motivation in the classroom. The era of technology is here to stay, and the same could be said about education because there are more and more benefits discovered by those who learn with the help of advanced technologies.

If used properly, technology can be the best friend of an educator in any classroom. Remember this during your next lesson!

Author’s Bio: Michael Gorman is highly skilled editor and proofreader. He is proficient in blog writing and online freelance networking. Feel free to contact him via Facebook.

Reference herein to any specific commercial products, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise, does not constitute or imply an endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by Touro College.

5 Smart Ways to Use the Internet in the Classroom

The following is a guest post written by Lori Wade, freelance blogger and content writer. If you would like to submit a guest post, please contact us.

Let’s be frank here — the academe has always been a little behind when it comes to practically everything remotely related to innovation. Well, if we are completely honest, ‘a little’ is an understatement here. No doubt it is often the problem with the municipal budget that some schools have terribly outdated computers, but the really troubling issue is that a lot of teachers still refuse to embrace technology and make it a part of the education process.

To put it simply, every teacher these days has to understand that the millennial generation is gradually becoming the major workforce in the job market, and the millennials that are drawing closer to their college graduation are not overly anxious about the old ways. The same is even more true for the new generation of school students, who are now being tagged as digital natives.

In other words, whichever age group you are working with, it is your primary goal as a teacher to make the environment student-friendly. The good news is that you can easily achieve this effect even on a small school budget. The Internet, in particular, can be a handy and affordable learning tool in every classroom. Here are some ideas on how to make the most of the internet in your lessons:

#1 Take advantage of video lessons

Videos offer a great way to make education fun, no matter which subjects you are dealing with. Plus, the days when you had to book a separate room for any video class are long gone — you can now use software to project films from your phone/tablet directly to the classroom screen.

Another huge perk is that you can easily find plenty of free, educational channels on YouTube. Simply subscribing to a couple of video blogs in your subject area might save you a lot of trouble when preparing for the next lesson — after all, most of these videos are short, funny and visual. This is simply a win-win situation both for the students and the teachers! (If you are a student and accidentally came across this article, this is the part when you start thinking of sharing it with your teacher. No, seriously — just make sure to pick the most liberal professor).

#2 Invite remote speakers

Another great idea that will give any lesson a refreshing vibe is to invite remote speakers. Once again, this solution is suitable for all age groups and subjects, but, of course, you will have to choose your guests accordingly. For the youngest ones, for example, it can be a remote type of ‘who I want to be when I grow up’ lesson, where representatives of different professions attend virtually instead of coming in person to the classroom personally. For older students, you can invite subject matter experts — here, the engagement will mostly depend on your own connections.

Plus, the number of apps to choose from is enormous. From Skype and FaceTime to Viber and WhatsApp, these apps come with no fees or complications — a stable Internet connection and a screen are all you need.

#3 Create collaboration groups

Some projects are all about collaboration. All of the messaging apps mentioned above allow users to create groups where members can discuss project-related topics. Another example of a similar app is Slack, which is widely used in a variety of companies that work in teams.

Creating dedicated chat/discussion groups can be very useful for many subjects, allowing the whole team to works towards a common goal. Whether it is a lab report or a training marketing project, the use of Internet and technology in this example teaches students to collaborate, brainstorm, and contribute their share of effort towards the end result. Another great perk is that these forums prepare students for the real-time work environment, stressing the value of teamwork, and potentially reducing the learning curve in the workplace.

#4 Share public files and documents

Speaking of working together, Google suite has made it simpler than ever. Google allows creating shared access to text documents, spreadsheets, and even entire folders. Apple docs also features the same functionality, but the Apple product has its limits since it is very unlikely that all of your students will be Apple/Mac users. Google, on the other hand, hosts its programs on a cloud, using a web browser to access all of the files; so, user operational system makes no difference here.

There are dozens of ways to use Google Docs to increase productivity. The simplest one is to share all of the new assignments in class. Shared files will also become a perfect addition to shared study boards — instead of simply discussing one project or another online, students can actually work together on documents, presentations, graphs, reports, etc. They can even improve their college essay writing by having access to other papers from their class.

Plus, Google docs features the ability to add comments to a document, so it is possible to choose a couple of sample works and share your insight using this feature. Giving specific paper examples and commenting on what is right and what is wrong with each of the papers is the surest way to teach students writing or any other subject in that matter.

#5 Make your lessons more visual

Finally, the Internet gives teachers a chance to make each and every one of their lessons more visual. Pictures and photos are the surest way to achieve this effect. However, the sky’s the limit when choosing visual materials. For example, when teaching geography, you can make use of online maps, taking your audience to the remote locations. Maps can also prove useful when teaching culture and history (for example, an old photo of the location vs. a present-day street view). This approach creates a sense of connection, which is the surest way for the information to make its way into the student’s’ long-term memory.

Another idea, obvious as it may seem, is to use slides in your lessons. This is not a new concept — slides have been used in lectures for years. But, using the internet can give your old visuals a new vibe. By ‘visuals’ we do not necessarily mean pictures and graphs. Those could also be text fragments with the essential information, quotations, and practically any other written information you want to stress.

 

As you can see, using the Internet in a classroom does not necessarily mean that students will go through their Facebook feed (well, some of them will). Still, making Internet a part of your education process has more pluses than minuses. Put some effort into your lectures, try to walk in your students’ shoes, and speak their language — this is the best way to engage your maturing audience.

 

Author’s Bio: Lori Wade is a freelance content writer for Thriving Writer who is interested in a wide range of spheres from education and online marketing to entrepreneurship. She is also an aspiring tutor striving to bring education to another level like we all do. Lori is used to handling many writing orders at the same time and as she likes sharing her ideas and experience, she decided to write a great article for you to show how multiple tasks should be dealt with. If you are interested in writing, you can find her on Twitter or Google+ or find her in other social media. Read and take over Lori’s useful insights!

 

Reference herein to any specific commercial products, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise, does not constitute or imply an endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by Touro College.

Tips for Using Google to Boost Student Engagement

The following is a guest post written by Stephanie Norman, blogger and professional writer. If you would like to submit a guest post, please contact us.

using-google-to-boost-students-engagementWith all the gadgets and apps available to support the educational processes, teachers often have a hard time deciding which ones to use in the classroom. Most of them understand that technology is integral to the contemporary educational process, yet they are still overwhelmed by the ever-changing innovations and often decide to stick to old-school methods. That’s not the right thing to do.

Yes, technology is overwhelming, and one teacher couldn’t possibly test and use all edTech tools even if he/she wanted to. However, instructors should still implement a strategy that introduces simple tools into the classroom with the purpose of boosting students’ engagement.

I have one word for you: GOOGLE. It is so much more than a search engine. According to Angie Roberts, the CEO of Australian Writings Pty Ltd, Google offers everything that teachers need to support engagement in the classroom.

“Google has developed powerful tools that make the classroom much more effective. It doesn’t matter whether you’re teaching English or music, math or social studies; there’s always a Google feature that will add dynamics to the lectures,” – Mrs. Roberts explains.

How exactly can Google be used to make a class more engaging? What features should instructors use for what purposes? Here are some great answers and tips for using Google to increase student engagement:

  1. Google Translate for Language and Grammar Lessons
    It’s no secret that Google Translate is not the most reliable translating tool. It can result in silly translations that make no sense. However, it is still a powerful tool that allows students access to over 90 languages worldwide. Here are few suggestions for using Google Translate in the classroom:

    • Introduce cultures by translating small phrases
      How about saying Happy New Year in different languages? You can ask your students to form teams, choose five target languages, and use Google Translate to generate results. Then, they can present their projects to the class. This is a great way of introducing your students to different cultures through language.
    • Assist second language students with their work
      If students in a language class are required to translate a chunk of text which they may not be equipped to handle, allow them to rely on Google Translate as a helper. The translation won’t be perfect, but that can be fixed using this next exercise:
    • Catch grammar errors
      Ask your students to find the imperfections in a translation. This simple task will teach students that translation software is useful, but not 100% reliable.
  2. Google Calendar for Student Organization
    It is an instructor’s job in the classroom to teach students different skills. However, this is not limited to expanding students’ intellectual capacity. It is also the job of the teacher to help students make the most of their education, something that can’t be achieved without sufficient organization.

    • Teachers could impart this information by giving lectures on how important organization is or by doing something practical: show them how to organize their studying, homework, and activity schedule.
    • Instructors can use their own Google Calendar to demonstrate how students should organize their time around school, hobbies, and casual activities. Then, each student can create his/her own calendars and mark the dates for project submission and tests. Then, have learners organize the time before those important dates to allow them to efficiently study, write, and enjoy some free time in between.
  3. Google Earth for Geography Lessons
    Classroom globes are cool, but not as cool as Google Earth. With this tool, students can explore the world through 3-dimensional images and videos of famous locations and historical sites. Here is a great example of a lesson plan using Google Earth:

    • Have students create presentations about different locations on the planet. Then, they can present the projects in front of the class and use Google Earth as a visual presentation tool.
  4. Google Books and Google Scholar for Research
    Most students rely on Google’s search engine when doing research for a project. This is a habit that needs to be broken. Google Books and Google Scholar are better and more reliable search tools for academic projects. They provide full-length books and articles, which will add legitimacy and authority to any student paper.
  5. Google Keep for Taking Notes
    Encourage and develop students creative thinking skills by suggesting that students keep track of their ideas. Google Keep is a great tool to help develop that habit.

    • Organize a brainstorming session in the classroom and tell students to keep their ideas in Google Keep.
    • Explain how students can use this app at any time to jot down any idea that comes to mind.
    • Teach your students to organize their ideas. Note-taking doesn’t have to be messy.
  6. Google Classroom for Full Control of the Class
    Google Classroom saves teachers a lot of time. Instructors can assign and collect projects and assignments through the tool, saving valuable class time and keeping all course-related information in one place. Google Classroom could also be used to provide feedback to students and to facilitate online discussions.
  7. YouTube for Educational Videos
    Every now and then, instructors can spare students from long lectures and instead teach using educational videos. YouTube is full of classroom-appropriate content, so explore it and surprise students with a video that will promote interest and engagement in the classroom.

Google can offer so much more for classroom involvement than quick and easy searches. Using its various features, Google can make classroom management much more effective. Experiment with the suggestions above and see how Google’s many tools can work for you!

 

Author’s Bio: Stephani Norman is a contributing blogger and professional writer with 4 years of experience. She enjoys writing articles about educational, blogging, and writing issues, and also enjoys penning film and literature reviews. In her free time, she loves focusing on self-development, travelling, and reading thought-provoking books. For more information, check out Stephanie on Facebook and Google+.

 

Reference herein to any specific commercial products, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise, does not constitute or imply an endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by Touro College.

 

E-Learning Trends for the New School Year

As we near the start of the 2016-2017 school year, let’s take a look at what researchers at Aurion Learning predicted would be the e-learning trends for 2016. How are we holding up? Did their predictions hold? What can we do to make sure we meet all of these expectations before the close of the calendar year? Click on their infographic below for more information.

10 eLearning Trends to Watch in 2016 Infographic

For more information and a great webinar on e-Learning trends, visit AurionLearning.com.

 

Source: AurionLearning.com

 

Distance Education- a Necessity, not an Accessory

39243336_sWCET, the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies (founded by the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education- WICHE), recently published a report that studied Distance Education Enrollment from the Fall 2014 semester.  The purpose behind their study was to analyze the overall trend in enrollment in Distance Learning programs and to summarize their findings in a concise and readable manner.

They found the following:

  • Not only has enrollment in Distance Education programs increased, but the overall matriculation into higher education programs has declined. This makes the increase in online learners that much more significant
  • More than 1-in-4 students (28%) are taking at least one course online or through a distance education program
  • The majority of distance education enrollments (85%) were in public institutions, with 48% of students who are exclusively distance learners enrolling in these institutions.

See the full report here.

 

Sources:

WCET Distance Education Enrollment Report 2016, by Russ Poulin & Terri Taylor Straut

Distance Education is Here to Stay, by Colin Wood

 

 

27 Tips for Meaningful Technology Integration

One of the great advantages of living and teaching in a world of technology is that there are countless apps, software, devices, and more available at our fingertips to help make learning come alive. However, what is the best way to use this technology in a classroom? How can teachers best engaged students using the technology with which they’re growing up?

Kelly Walsh’s 27 Meaningful (and Fun) Ways to Use Technology for Teaching and Learning discusses the best methods for breaking free of the traditional teaching method. She explains that #EdTech (Educational Technology) can and should be used to to enhance a learning environment. Gone is the age of lecturing and teacher-centered learning. Now, the best way to reach your students is to think like the students!

Interested in taking advantage of the benefits of 21st Century technology? Check out these 27 suggestions for making your classroom “Even More Awesome”:

 

Source: 27 Meaningful (and Fun) Ways to Use Technology for Teaching and Learning, by Kelly Walsh

The Ultimate Guide to Snapchatting in the Classroom

snapchat in the classroom
https://www.snapchat.com/
https://www.snapchat.com/

You’ve heard of Snapchat as a social-media app for personal use, but what about using Snapchat for education?

Snapchat, the free mobile messaging app that emerged in September of 2011, is one of the foremost social media apps used, not only by millennials but also those born before the digital age, to share pictures, videos, texts, and more.  However, to date Snapchat has been used primarily for social media and friendly interaction. So, how exactly could teachers and students make use of Snapchat in their daily lessons or homework assignments?

 

Snapchat can be used for:

  1. COMMUNICATING– Dr. Jon Ernstberger of LaGrange College in LaGrange, GA, explains how most, if not all, students are already carrying smartphones, and as of April 2016, more than 77% of college students were using Snapchat on a daily basis. Using Snapchat, teachers can reach and communicate with their students using the technology and tools that are already a daily part of their lives.
  2. DISTANCE TEACHING– Teachers can use Snapchat as a means of coaching students through an assignment or task, sharing pictures or videos of each step in a process instead of having to write or verbalize what may be more complicated instructions.
  3. STORYTELLING– As part of the age of technology, educators are trying to encourage their students to get physically involved in their education. Using Snapchat, students can create and share videos that depict the stages of an assignment, such as a science experiment or the acting out of a book or play being read in class.
  4. LANGUAGE LEARNING– Snapchat can be used like a set of flashcards, with a teacher sending a word to his students and requesting a response in the form of a video or picture that best defines that word (or vice versa). This can be used for advanced vocabulary or foreign language lessons.
  5. COUNTING DOWN THE MINUTES– Another use for Snapchat in the classroom can be for teachers to publicize the amount of time until an exam or due date, visually depicting to students how much time they have to prepare for the upcoming event.

For more information on Snapchatting in the Classroom, see Can Snapchat Bridge the Communication Chasm in Online Courses?, by Jon Ernstberger & Melissa A. Venable. 

 

Sources:

80 Amazing Snapchat Statistics, by Craig Smith

Can Snapchat Bridge the Communication Chasm in Online Courses?, by Jon Ernstberger & Melissa A. Venable.

Why Millennials Use Snapchat, by Maya Kosoff