Tips For Teaching With Tech

Tech is becoming the norm in the ELT classroom.  It’s an expected part of any teacher’s toolkit and any school’s curriculum.  Teachers are blending and supporting their face to face classes using useful tools found on the web or platforms like EnglishCentral.  However, teachers have to think it through so they don’t trip up.

I always urge teachers to “muck about” and that it really isn’t as hard as we think. Yes, it takes time but it pays off big time. It is more about the paradigm shift that needs to occur in each of us – as the above video highlights so well.

Here are the top 5 tips I provide teachers in my workshops about using technology to teach languages.

#1 Use technology only if it meets the lesson’s language objective and enhances learning.

This may seem self evident but too often I think, teachers do bring in technology just for the buzz and thrill. They don’t ask hard enough questions like, “is it the best way to help students acquire “x” language point?” “how long will it take?” “What’s the cost/benefit compared to something else? ” Engagement is great but it really isn’t the point of education. Stay focused on the language objectives and make sure any technology you use – really, truly helps that objective be reached.

#2 Download for offline use or have a plan B.

Even here in the most advanced countries, streaming can’t be counted on. Also, the internet though usually a stable platform, just can’t be counted on. Save videos for offline use using online tools.  At a minimum, play a video all the way through before the lesson, that way it will be in your computer’s cache and stream better.  But have a plan B – something you can turn to should the tech not tech!

#3 Don’t get lost in the forest. Find what works for you and stick with it!

Every day, hundreds of new applications and tools come online. I once tried to keep up and try everything. Nothing worse for a teacher! Just find a few tools or sites that you find suitable and match your own teaching style and also your student’s needs. Master them as much as you can and then use. Use a lot, your students will get used to them and benefit through that. Don’t get lost in the forest of new (but keep your ears and eyes open just in case).

#4 Give students control. Get them using technology and make it interactive.

Technology works because it isn’t static like a page of a book. It is dynamic and a teacher should treat it so. Students should be encouraged to use the classroom computer responsibly. Trust me, they can click and advance things just as well as you! If possible, use your school’s library computers or computer lab. Get students using the internet to do homework or making games  which you can use for review in class. I’d even go so far as appointing one student as the class tech guru. They can be “the man” students turn to with questions and troubleshooting needs. Take the pressure off yourself – you got enough to do.

#5 Make friends with the “tech” guy at school or a competent colleague.

Your best friend at school should be the person in charge of the computers (of course the librarian is also important!). Buy them a gift and get them working on your computer and making it purr. No technology guru around? Make friends with colleagues who have good technology skills and share something you do well in return. Teachers helping teachers.

So get out there and start preparing for Web 3.o – the future is already here and it is in the form of our students!

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