TEFL Technology: My daily tech teaching classroom

 

The world of tech has invaded our classrooms whether we like it or not. There are phones, tablets and maybe laptops in students pockets and bags. I even saw one bring in a desktop last week.

If you are against a TEFL technology environment and using it in teaching then you are fighting a losing battle. The days of paper are numbered and it’s only a matter of time until all our journals, books and courses are online. Well, in theory.

I’ve always been into using tech or IT/ICT as we used to call it. When I got my first proper TEFL job we had a computer lab and a CALL (computer assisted language learning) co-ordinator. His job was to source and make activities which we could do in the labs. at that time, we had a few expensive programmes on the network but the majority of classes were spent doing website activities or just reading online.

Things changed when Blended Learning came in and we said goodbye to classic student books. Since then, I’ve seen schools use handouts, PPT, their self-produced materials, e-readers and classic lab lessons. Now, technology has caught up and we finally have the hardware and the online and downloadable content to finally teach with tech. Nevertheless, be warned, there is a danger.

Never let the tech rule your class!

When I started getting into apps and sites I tended to focus the lessons just on using them and forgot about the lesson. In my opinion ‘less is more’ so using one site to help with an activity is better than spending 30 minutes register and logging into 3. A simple shared Gdoc for group writing or an interesting video, if fully exploited, is worth its weight in gold.

I teach in France which I used to think was a bit behind England tech-wise. That doesn’t seem to be true though. I haven’t actually worked anywhere since 2011 that has used books or copies and even in 2010/11 that uni brought in Moodle and was going digital. The average French higher education institute, from my experience, seems to have embraced tech. For example, I see time and again just empty classrooms. They have a projector, desks and chairs and that’s it. Teachers arrive, connect, deliver and leave. PPT is the name of the game and the students bring and use their laptops.

A couple of other places use iPads with one for every teacher and student. This is very modern and, like the above example, can be a shock to use TEFLers who carry round grammar books. It took me a while to adapt to but it’s not really that different. You still teach but instead of having copies you have screens. Here is one iPad lesson I taught yesterday:

 

Course:

Conversation

Level:

C1+ 121  

Time:

45 mins

Objectives:

To discuss a topical issue, to work on pronunciation errors, to adopt and use content-specific vocabulary

Material:

http://www.newsy.com/ iPad app

Preparation:

Create a playlist of 4 news videos, watch them and note down challenging vocabulary

  1. I gave the student an iPad and asked her to flick through the playlist and choose one to watch.
  2. We watched the video, discussed it and I asked questions using the vocabulary I had listed. For the items she didn’t recognise I replayed the video to use the context to work out their meaning or let her use a dictionary app. We continued the discussion with free conversation.
  3. I noted her pronunciation errors and then recorded myself and her saying the words, replayed it and compared them. I also tested her by using Siri (voice recognition) to see if it could recognise her pronunciation

For homework I asked her to watch the other 3 videos and bring a list of new or interesting language to the next lesson. I also recommended recording herself talking using the sounds we had worked on and sending it to me as an MP3 file. I will then analyse it using https://soundcloud.com/ and go over it in the next lesson.

As you can see, my prep involved watching 4 short news clips and noting down vocab. In the lesson, we had real conversation and I helped her learn the lexis and focus on her pron errors. Then, I gave her plenty of homework and material to bring to our next class.

 

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