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Assistive Technology for English Language Learners

Instructor: Amanda Wiesner-Groff

Amanda has created and taught English/ESL curricula worldwide, has an M.Ed, and is the current ESOL Coordinator for the Saint Louis Public School District.

Assistive technology is a beneficial tool for the English language learning classroom. This lesson will go over different types of assistive technology and how they can be customized to assist English language learners.

What is Assistive Technology?

Assistive technology (AT) is a program, type of support, or piece of technology that improves student learning. When it comes to English language learners (or ELLs), assistive technology includes tools that assist in the acquisition and comprehension of both language and content area learning. This lesson will review different forms of assistive technology that can be used specifically for ELLs.

Types of Assistive Technology for ELLs

The following forms of assistive technology can be used either in the classroom, or, if students have access to mobile devices, at home for extra language practice. Each suggestion is geared toward making the learning process easier for English language learners as they work on acquiring both language and content comprehension skills.

Text-to-Speech Software

Text-to-speech software is a program that converts text into spoken voice output. While it is commonly used for those with visual impairments or reading disabilities, it is also very helpful for ELLs. Here are some highlights about this type of technology:

  • Can be installed on mobile devices (phones, tablets, laptops, etc.)
  • Students can use it in the classroom
  • Students hear the text while reading - aids in word-sound recognition, and pronunciation
  • Increases students' focus on comprehension rather than sounding out words
  • Supports multiple languages and text types
  • Many students qualify for free digital text-to-speech books

Audio Recorders

For many ELLs, repetition and practice are necessary in the classroom. Audio recorders can be used to record and play back oral explanations of new material taught in class. Here are some reasons why audio recorders are beneficial assistive technology tools:

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