Technology for ESL Students in the Classroom

Instructor: Vanessa Botts
Technology enables English language learners to use, practice and perfect their English in engaging and effective ways. In this lesson, we will discuss some easy ways to implement technology in the ESL classroom.

Technology for the ESL Classroom

No doubt most teachers are familiar with the saying, 'A picture is worth a thousand words.' Nowhere is this more evident than in the ESL classroom. How many times have we, as educators, seen the benefits of explaining a difficult concept or introducing new vocabulary with the help of visual aids? Well, technology allows for many ways in which to increase student understanding with more than just a picture! There are many tools to augment instruction so students can improve their speaking, listening, reading and writing skills in a fun and engaging manner.

Likely, you are familiar with the classroom use of projectors, smartboards, Google and YouTube. These tools augment instruction when presenting new information, explaining difficult concepts or introducing vocabulary. Although these tools can make instruction more interesting for students (and you!), they are not the only ones available. In this lesson, we'll explore how technology can help ESL students improve their skill level on their own, as part of a peer group or with you as a facilitator.

You can motivate students to take an active part in their learning with the help of such technology tools as online voice recorders, video creation software and virtual platforms for collaborative projects. With these, your classroom can be transformed into an educational playground!

So, let's get started. Below are some ideas for easy-to-implement technology that will engage and empower your students.

Voice Recorders

To improve their speaking and listening skills, ESL students benefit from hearing proper pronunciation as well as being able to hear their own. There are a variety of applications that allow you to record passages or vocabulary for your students. These applications allow students to then repeat and record what they hear as well as listen to what they said.

You could also utilize these recorders by providing students with a prompt. Students record themselves answering the prompt and then analyze their answers by playing the recording back or sharing the recording with you for feedback.

Some of the applications for voice recording can be built into student laptops or there are tablet apps, such as GarageBand or VoiceThread. There are other applications that require no downloads. These online recorders allow users to record their voice, play back the recording and give several options for sharing. Anyone with basic computer skills can use these.

Video Creation and Animated Slides

Creating and publishing videos can get ESL students excited about storytelling and sharing their work with an audience while at the same time building their oral communication skills. For instance, students could create videos where they summarize the highlights of an event, explain the steps in a process or even animate a story of their own creation to be shared with the class. In addition, these videos could be uploaded to YouTube, Google Drive or a classroom web page. Below are some tools to unleash student creativity through video creation.

Video Editing Applications

There are programs that allow users to upload images or videos to create professional looking videos. An easy-to-use video editing program is iMovie. WeVideo is another user friendly, web-based platform that provides collaborative video editing capabilities. Typically, these applications require a bit of technical savvy, so they are for students who already have some technology skills. Nonetheless, they are fun tools to use!

Animated Slides

Another fun way for students to utilize technology in the ESL classroom is by animating a story. Whether based on a teacher-assigned story or one of their own, students can create animated slideshows using a variety of cloud-based platforms. One such platform is PowToon. Computer skills beyond basic are required to create these types of presentations, so these projects are better suited for students with experience with other presentation software, such as PowerPoint or Prezi.

Interactive and Collaborative Activities

Projects involving student interaction and collaboration are another great way to utilize technology in the ESL classroom. Because group work requires student conversation, English language skills are further developed and students increase their English proficiency. Below are some ideas of how students can collaborate.

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