Technology and English Language Learning

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50 useful resources-Technology and ESL

Websites

Resource tools, printables, and other great stuff for ELL educators are all available on these sites.

  1. UsingEnglish.com: On UsingEnglish.com, you’ll find an incredible collection of tools and resources for learning and teaching English as a second language, including a grammar glossary, printables, and teacher handouts.
  2. EverythingESL: EverythingESL is an awesome place to find ESL teaching resources, from lesson plans to teaching tips and resources.
  3. Colorin Colorado: Colorin Colorado is full of useful information, activities, and resources for ELL teachers, especially those at the Pre-K to third grade level. However, most activities can be adapted all the way up to high school, making this a diverse and useful website.

Articles & Advice

Check out resource lists, journal articles, and ideas for best practices in ELL on these links.

  1. Preschool English Language Learners: This resource list from the state of Illinois has a variety of support resources for preschool English language educators, with scholarships, journals, books, and more.
  2. Doing What Works: Visit Doing What Works to find best practices for teaching Literacy in English to kindergarten through fifth-grade learners.
  3. What Works Clearinghouse: In the What Works Clearinghouse, you’ll find scholarly publications for effective outcomes in English language learning.

Organizations

Take advantage of the great opportunities and resources available from these organizations that benefit ELL teachers.

  1. National Council of Teachers of English: This professional association for educators in English studies, literacy, and language arts offers plenty of benefits for bilingual teachers.
  2. National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition: Find data, grants, even professional development resources for ELL educators from the National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition.
  3. TOEFL: As the official language test for education, TOEFL’s website is incredibly useful for sharing test-taking and studying information with students.
  4. International Reading Association: This association of literacy professionals has excellent resources for literacy educators, including journal articles and an educator community.

Learning Resources

Enrich your students’ learning by sharing these excellent English resources that they can check out in the classroom or on their own.

  1. Culturally Authentic Pictorial Lexicon: Check out this lexicon that offers images demonstrating the true meaning of the word, making it easier for English language learners to understand.
  2. ManyThings: On this website, you’ll find quizzes, word games, puzzles, and a random sentence generator to help students better grasp English as a second language.
  3. bab.la: Bab.la is a really fun site for ELL learners, with reference tools like a dictionary and vocabulary, supplemented with quizzes, games, and a community forum.
  4. ESL Basics: On this site, you’ll find free English videos for both students and teachers.
  5. English Pronunciation: Okanagan College’s resource offers 13 different unit lessons for learning and teaching English pronunciation.
  6. BBC Learning English: In this website from the BBC, students can find help with grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation, with plenty of references to current events. Plus, you’ll find a special section for ELL teachers.
  7. ESL Gold: ESL Gold is, no joke, golden, with seemingly endless learning resources for English. Students can practice pronunciation, find a book to study, and even talk to someone in English on this site. Plus, teachers can find a job, search for textbooks, discover games, and so much more.
  8. Real English: Check out this free site for learning English, with loads of videos from real English speakers, plus quizzes and community support.
  9. Repeat After Us: In this online library, students can get access to a huge collection of English texts and scripted recordings.
  10. Google Translate: An awesome resource to use for simple translations, Google Translate can help your students see how its done and better understand translations between two or more languages.
  11. ESL Cyber Listening Lab: Direct your students to this ESL cyber listening lab with study guides, quizzes, and even teacher features.
  12. Vocabulix: This online tool is designed to help jumpstart students’ vocabulary skills, with more than 90 vocabulary lessons, and the option to create lessons of your own.
  13. Wordsteps: Wordsteps makes it easy for students to build their own vocabulary collection, and even access their vocabulary through a mobile device for English language learning on the go.

Teaching Resources

With these resources, you can find great ways to communicate more effectively, explore lessons, and be a great ELL teacher.

  1. Utah Education Network English Language Learner Resources: Check out this list of great resources for ELL, with teaching ideas, forums, and even news and research.
  2. One Stop English: Specially designed for English language teachers, One Stop English has a monthly topics series, news lessons, and even an app for on the go ELL teaching.
  3. Casa Notes: This ingenious tool allows ELL teachers to effectively communicate with non-English speaking parents. You’ll be able to quickly make and customize notes that you can translate and send home to parents, effectively communicating information about field trips, conduct, homework, and more.
  4. ESL Party Land: A great site for ELL teachers, ESL Party Land has lesson plans, strategies, worksheets, flashcards, quizzes, games, and even vocabulary resources to help you be a better ELL teacher.
  5. Clip Art Collection: Check out this collection of royalty-free, language-neutral clip art designed to be used for foreign language instruction.
  6. Activities for ESL Students: Thousands of teacher contributions can be found on this site full of quizzes, exercises, and tests for teaching English as a second language.
  7. Szoter: Using this online annotation tool, ELL teachers can write directly on images to explain their meaning to students.
  8. Oxford University Press Learning Resources Bank: A service of Oxford University Press, this learning resources bank for English language teaching has courses, titles, and interactive English reading tools.
  9. English-Test.net: Encourage students to self-test with this website, offering free English tests, grammar exercises, and worksheets.
  10. EduFind English Online Tests and Learning Games: Check out these test and games that offer a great way for students to test and improve their English language skills.

Reference

From reference books to a pronunciation guide, you and your students will get a lot of use out of these links.

  1. Dictionary.com: This site isn’t just for looking up words, although it’s quite useful in that function. Dictionary.com also offers a word of the day, games, quotes, translation, and much more.
  2. Thesaurus.com: Like Dictionary.com, Thesaurus.com goes beyond simple reference, bringing inspiration and fun in the form of synonyms, fun word facts, and even search trends.
  3. Common Errors in English Usage: Read Paul Brian’s Common Errors in English Usage on this website, and even get links to the book’s blog, calendar, and entry-a-day Facebook page.
  4. Play & Learn English: Through the Early Childhood Education Network’s Play & Learn English resource, you can share letters, print, shapes, writing, and other relevant images for learning the English language.
  5. Idiom Site: With the help of this site, English language learners can make sense of common idioms.
  6. Fonetiks: Direct students to this incredibly useful pronunciation guide with instant sound and samples by native speakers.

Communities & Blogs

Get help and regular feedback for ELL education from these communities and blogs.

  1. Learning the Language: On Education Week, Lesli Maxwell covers educational policy and social issues relating to English language learning in the US.
  2. Dave’s ESL Cafe: Check out Dave Sperling’s ESL cafe, where ELL teachers and students alike can enjoy a great community of English learning, plus job resources and stuff for teachers.
  3. Englishtown: Join this community of English learners from around the world to gain insight for your ELL students.
  4. Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day: Want a regular dose of ELL resources? Check out Larry Ferlazzo’s blog that shares news, learning resources, and other great links for ELL teachers.
  5. ESL Podcast: Follow this podcast to share English language learning opportunities with your students on a regular basis.
  6. ESL Resource Center: The ESL Resource Center is “where English and people connect,” offering live chat rooms and forums for English practice. There are even ideas for drama and role plays, teacher development, and story telling resources.
  7. Teacher Talk: Several ELL teachers contribute to this blog, sharing teaching practices, materials, ideas, and guides.
  8. Pain in the English: This fun blog is a great resource for explaining gray areas of the English language to your students.
  9. TEFLtastic with Alex Case: Follow Alex Case’s blog to find news, views, and reviews for English language teaching.
  10. The English Blog: Visit The English Blog to find resources, reviews, and much more for both learners and teachers of English.
  11. Inspiration Lane: Inspiration Lane is designed to be an interactive reading activity to share with your entire ELL classroom with new learning content each day.

EFL problems – Cell phones in the adult classroom: interruption or resource?

Although students using cell phones in the classroom can make you feel like you have lost control of the class, it’s important to find out what students are using their cell phones for. Calling or texting friends or family during lessons may not be the best use of class time, but more and more often students are using their cell phones – especially smartphones – for learning and organisational purposes. Being on the cell phone does not necessarily mean the students are ‘off task’.

Establishing phone use guidelines

Adult learners may have valid reasons for leaving their phones on. Business people, for example, may have a mandate to keep in touch even whilst in class, or parents may need to be available for calls related to children. At the beginning of term, it’s a good idea to negotiate rules for phone use with students. Discuss when, if ever, it is OK to use phones for calls or texting and establish cell phone etiquette for the classroom. This should be done with maximum student input so that the rules are agreed rather than imposed.

Some examples of acceptable use of cell phones in the class might include:

  • Using the calendar to schedule meetings with other students
  • Taking notes using a note app or recording function
  • Audio recording the lesson (with teacher’s permission)
  • Looking up unknown words
  • Adding peers to their contacts list
  • Photographing board work or homework assignments
  • Sharing photos when related to class content (for example, family photos on a family unit or holiday pictures on a holidays unit)
  • Doing web searches

Maximising cell phone use for learning

You also might begin to think of ways to exploit cell phones further. Some ideas are explored below.

1. Educational apps for phones have been developed to help students learn English. Encourage students to replace their digital translators with a good dictionary app. Students can look up new words themselves rather than relying on the teacher all the time. When doing activities in which students must guess the meaning of new words from context, simply ask them not to use dictionaries for the activity. To help with pronunciation, point students in the direction of a pronunciation app that they can use to hear the correct pronunciation and record themselves or each other. The Headway Phrase-a-day app could be an engaging way to begin the lesson with students trying to create a dialogue in which the phrase can be used naturally. (For ideas on how to use apps, see Gareth Davis’ blog ‘Translation Tool or Dictionary’ and Verissimo Toste’s blog ‘Enhanced Learning – Using an App in Class’)

2. If students (or at least one student per group) have smartphones, then they can easily go onto the internet to research questions they have related to course content. Encourage students to look up information to support an argument or to satisfy their curiosity about topics discussed in class. Get them to research a topic to report back on or ask them to find an image to illustrate a difficult vocabulary word. For example, in one of my classes, the word badger came up. Describing a badger is fairly difficult, but a student with a smartphone quickly looked it up and passed the image around to the rest of the class.

3. Students can use their phones to practise speaking and telephoning skills. Speaking to someone without seeing them is more difficult and requires students to use clear pronunciation and phrases for clarification. This adds a layer of authenticity and can help students gain confidence. Give them a speaking or telephoning task to do with someone across the room where eye contact is difficult. Alternatively, ask them to leave a message that their partner has to respond to.

4. Cell phones can themselves be a springboard for discussion and a way to practise new language. Students could compare and contrast the functions of their phones, describe how an app works, argue for or against phone features, or even give instructions for how to play a game.

5. You might be interested in exploring more advanced uses of cell phones by investigating resources such as Wiffiti for sharing brainstorms or Poll Everywhere and SMS Poll for free ways to get immediate class feedback.

Cell phones play an increasing role in everyday life and can be seen as an integral part of students’ learning rather than as an interruption to it. When students do use phones in class, especially smartphones, don’t assume that they are doing something ‘off task’. Students may be using their phones for a number of educational purposes. Cell phones can be seen as a valuable learning tool and an aid to student autonomy.

Invitation to share your ideas

We are interested in hearing your ideas about using cell phones in class, so please comment on this post and take part in our live Facebook chat on Friday 25 October at 12pm GMT. Our next blog will address one of the other issues raised by you on this blog, on Twitter (using hashtag #EFLproblems), and on Facebook. Please keep your ideas coming.

13 Ways to Use Socrative as a Formative Assessment

 

Socrative is a smart, student response system that empowers teachers to collect data from their students via smartphones, laptops, and tablets. I find Socrative to be the most useful SMS app because students can use it on any platform with internet service, rather than phones with text messaging services. I let my students use Socrative with my laptops and iPod Touches in the classroom. It is a great way for teachers to assess students and collect immediate feedback.

Its so Simple
Teachers login through their device and select an activity which controls the flow of questions and games. Students simply login with their device and interact real time with the content.

Quick and Easy Assessment
Student responses are visually represented for multiple choice, true/false and Short Answer questions. For pre-planned activities a teacher can view reports online as a google spreadsheet or as an emailed Excel file.

I am a huge advocate of Socrative for several reasons

  • Socrative was created by a group of teachers
  • Its interative and engaging
  • It provides immediate feedback via formative assessments
  • It is paperless
  • It saves time when grading assignments
  • Students can use Socratic on any device, on any platform.

Below are 13 ways that I am currently using Socrative as formative assessments with my students.

  1. True or False Questions
  2. Multiple Choice Questions
  3. Short Response
  4. Visual Data (Bar graphs and visual short responses)
  5. Exit Ticket
  6. Pre-Assessment
  7. Post-Assesment
  8. Create Short Quizzes
  9. Upload Premade Quizzes
  10. Reflection
  11. Collect Background Knowledge
  12. Quick Check for Understanding
  13. Voting on best responses

Here is just one example of how I use Socrative with my students.


In this example, I first use Socrative as a pre-assessment to get my students’ background knowledge on how they perform an online search. I have them rate their ability level of conducting an online search from a scale of 1 to 5. Then I display their responses in the form of a bar graph. I then ask my students to think critically by having them draw their own conclusions from the graph and share them with the class.

Next, I have my students respond to the following short answer question: What is one trick that you use to help you perform a Google Search? I have them type in their responses for everyone to see. After all of their responses are displayed on the projector, the students then vote on the response that they feel is the most valuable. Next, I have my students watch a screencast that I created, showing them additional tips, tricks, and features of Google Search. Lastly, I have them take a Post-Assessment and have them respond to the short answer question: What is the most valuable feature of a Google Search that you learned from watching the video? Then I have my students vote on the most valuable response.

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11 ways to use technology in the classroom

If you’re on the education technology fence, you probably can’t decide which device or app is the best one to really use. You aren’t sure if you want to jump into the edtech pool with Evernote, Moodle, an iPad, a Chromebook, or some other hot new product or service. That’s because there are an overwhelmingly large number of options out there. Seriously. Take a gander at the Apple iTunes App Store and click on the education category after you’re done on Edudemic. It’s an almost limitless number of apps that could potentially help you.

And that’s just the apps. There are so many more resources out there worth taking a look at. But you’re a busy teacher and you barely have time to use your own iPad to play a quick round of Angry Birds.

What if there was some sort of time-saving handy visual that could help you dream up nearly a dozen new ways to use technology in your classroom? That’s exactly what you’ve got with this fabulous graphic below. It’s designed by the folks at Really Good Stuff to be simple to read, understand, and implement.

tech in classroom

Lesson casts

LessonCast

LessonCast is a website where experienced teachers submit—via PowerPoint, document, pictures, or web cam—a “lesson idea or management strategy in 2 minutes 30 seconds or less.” Each submission is reviewed and vetted by other accomplished teachers, and then shared online. New teachers, or those just looking for new ideas, can then search for the perfect idea for their classroom. Note: This site is still growing, so there are a few holes.

Bottom line: Whether you have an idea to share or need a new one, this site helps teachers connect in much-needed mentoring relationships. Price: Free.

12 ways to use technology in the classroom

Everyone wants teachers to use technology in the classroom. But you’re busy — meeting standards, prepping students for tests — and maybe you’re not too fond of computers, anyway. Never fear – there are easy ways to bring your classroom up-to-date, technologically.

Prepare for Your Technology in the Classroom Adventure!

Do you have a iPad in your classroom for your use? How about iPads for students to use? Could you get a classroom iPad?

What kind of Internet access is available at your school? What are school policies on student use of the Internet?

What do you have to do to get Ipads for your students?

Also try to find a technology “mentor” on campus – the computer teacher or just another teacher who uses technology more than you do. It helps to know there’s someone who can guide you and help you incorporate technology in the classroom if you’re feeling overwhelmed.

Perfect Ed Tech Activities for Beginners

Do a PowerPoint “Game Show Review”

Many tech-savvy teachers have used Microsoft PowerPoint to create review games based on famous game shows, including “Jeopardy!,” “The Weakest Link,” and “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” These templates are available online for teachers to download and revise, including their own content. Check out this template or search “powerpoint game show template” online. A fun way to practice using a projector and get your students to review important material!

Have students complete a written classroom activity as if it was online.

Ever have your students write a diary from the perspective of a character or famous person? Why not have them create a blog instead? Take a look at various blog sites (Blogger and WordPress are two of the most popular) and create a template for your students to fill in.

Want students to summarize information? Ask them to tweet the lesson – that is, have them write summaries of 140 characters or less, as if they were writing on Twitter. Or create a template for a web page and ask students to use it to design a webpage about the content they are studying. While these activities don’t actually use technology, they familiarize you – and your students – with the Web 2.0 world, which can be a great first step.

Try a Webquest

A webquest guides students to search the Internet for specific information. For example, students are asked to serve as curators of a museum on a particular topic. They must search the Internet to determine what artifacts belong in their museum and explain their choices.

There are tons of already-constructed webquests out there, a perfect way to teachers to begin integrating Internet searches into their curriculum. Here’s a good introduction to the process.Once you get really comfortable with the process, you may even want to create your own!

 Good Ed Tech Activities for All Skill Levels

Use technology as a topic for a writing assignment

For younger students, have them write a “how-to” piece about using technology in the classroom. It’s a natural fit, as young people usually have a higher comfort level with technology than many adults. Tell kids to write a piece instructing someone – maybe a grandparent? – on how to send an email, set up an Ipod, or play a video game. For older kids, have them research the impact technology has had on a particular time in history or science or include a unit on science fiction and technology in your Language Arts curriculum.

 Create a class webpage

A class webpage can be anything from a basic site where you post announcements (think “online bulletin board”) to a much more elaborate one that includes class photos, a class blog, downloadable materials, and your own domain name. For those of you just starting out, try Scholastic’s free Home Page Builder (http://teacher.scholastic.com/homepagebuilder/). Those of you with a little more experience may enjoy Webs.com (http://www.webs.com/), which offers both free and premium service packages.

Use an online grading system

While some schools are mandating the shift to web-based gradebooks, you don’t have to wait to try one out. Sites like MyGradebook.com (http://www.mygradebook.com) offer the opportunity to track grades, record attendance and seating charts, and compile reports on student progress. You can also email students and parents directly to allow them to view their updated grades. Never worry again about bringing home your gradebook – you can access it from any computer.  

Do an email exchange

When we were kids, some teachers had class penpals or had you practice your penmanship by writing a letter to an author. Try the 21st-century version of that by instituting an email exchange. Have your students exchange emails with students in another school, city, state, or country – especially valuable if both sets of students are studying the same material. Or arrange for a group of experts to accept emails from your students on a particular topic. Students who fail to see the “real world implications” of math or science may develop new interest if you can put them in touch with a video game designer, astronaut, or engineer who uses those skills every day. And for adults who might want to volunteer but feel pressed for time, email can be a great way to help out, since they can respond on their own schedule.

Give multimedia presentations – or have your students give them

Liven up a traditional lecture by using a PowerPoint presentation that incorporates photographs, diagrams, sound effects, music, or video clips. For high school teachers, consider having your students develop presentations as a review tool before semester exams. Their work may be so good that you will want to use it in future classes!

Supplement your lessons

When you’ve taught the same material for awhile, you – and your students – may find it less-than-exciting. A quick Internet search may help you identify ways to supplement your lessons with interesting new material. Make a habit of searching before you begin each new unit. You may find photographs, sound clips, video clips, and more that can bring your lessons to life. Many museums now offer online “virtual tours” and teachers are constantly developing new presentations and webquests, which are posted online. Add these in to keep your lessons fresh.

Advanced Ed Tech Activities

Create a class blog or wiki

Take appropriate precautions for Internet safety, but a class blog or wiki can be a great way to integrate technology in the classroom and develop student knowledge. Some teachers use blogs to drive outside-of-class discussion – particularly helpful for AP/IB students who are motivated but short on class time.

A wiki is a website that uses software which allows many different people to edit it (think Wikipedia). Have your students work together to create a wiki on a topic they are studying. They will need to correct each other’s work and collaborate in order to make it a success.

 Listen to – or create – a Podcast.

There are thousands of podcasts available on the Web. Search for ones that meet your students’ needs. Some colleges are offering professors’ lectures via podcast, which can be great for advanced students. In other cases, you may be able to find an interview with the author of a book your students are reading, or other supplemental material. Make arrangements to download it and play it for your students. For the really ambitious, have students create their own podcasts to document their progress through the year or discuss their ideas on a variety of issues pertaining to the course.

“Publish” your students’ work

Tools exist today to allow your students to create really professional looking work using a desktop computer. Have students create a short film, run an ongoing class website that features student work and opinions, or – if they’re really ambitious – raise the money to have their work professionally published by a self-publishing company like iUniverse or Lulu.

No matter what your skill level, integrating technology in the classroom offers the chance to increase student interest and teach valuable professional skills – and have some fun!

iPad in the classroom

iPad-mini-black

 

While on the hunt for academic papers experimenting with technology in the classroom I found a thought-provoking paper from Alma Culen and Andrea Gasparini (2010), from The University of Oslo.

It discusses two pilot studies looking into the acceptance of iPads in the classroom for active reading in a teaching/learning situation. It formed part of a larger study which investigated how tablet PCs may transform the learning and working practices of learners. One study focused on elementary school children, the other on university students, and the results were very interesting when comparisons concerning the acceptance of technology were made.

The pilot study at the university pointed towards non-acceptance from the students of iPads as a learning platform, with them citing ownership and ease of use as major problem. In contrast to this the elementary schoolchildren were very accepting, with children, teachers and families all agreeing that the tablets were enhancing teaching, learning and play. This was especially true in terms of creativity in the classroom and promoting positive attitudes towards learning.

For me this has provided a captivating insight into how acceptance of technology is starting to divide the Western world. It also highlights how current adult (both students and teachers) who shy away from embracing technology may lack the necessary skills to compete with these new digital natives when they come of age.

As teachers we have a duty to prepare students for life in the real world and as digital literacy becomes an ever more important skill-set, we should be striving to implement practical technology usage into the learning environment. If we don’t, we might find that in ten, fifteen or twenty years time we find both ourselves and our students  struggling to stay afloat in an increasingly digital world.