I would like to refer to the enormous benefits that ICT has to offer to the ESL classroom as well as to education in general.
Learning a language demands direct exposure to it and, thanks to ICT, we, as teachers, can provide our learners with a wide range of activities that enable them to practice all language skills: listening, reading, speaking and writing as they would do in real-life situations.
Internet offers us the possibility to establish contact and start online collaborative projects with schools around Europe through, for example, the eTwinning portal, which is part of the European Union’s Erasmus + programme and includes useful tools, such as discussion forums, chat rooms, mailbox, etc. On the other hand, an ICT tool like the software program Skype enables us to arrange video-calls with native English speakers.
Isn’t this amazing? Our learners will not only be able to practice real English, but also learn about other cultures and get better in ICT literacy at the same time.
Creating our own ICT-based teaching materials enables us to personalize the teaching-learning process of each of our students through, for example, online personalized exercises that students can do in class and also at home if extra practice is needed or wished.
We can create these kind of exercises in websites like Discovery School PuzzleMaker or Smile Clear, but, if we are really looking to personalize our teaching at the most, the best is to use authoring tools. One of the most popular in ESL is the software program Hot Potatoes, which includes different applications to create multiple-choice, short-answer, gap-fill, jumbled-sentence, crossword and matching/ordering exercises.
Though it requires purchase, it is possible to install a trial version to try it out. My personal experience by using it has been very good. Sharing my Hot Potatoes exercises with you would require a constant update of their links, as I created them under the aforementioned trial version. Nevertheless, you can click on the images bellow to have a better view of screenshots of the JQuiz and JCloze exercises I created to practice the present continuous and past simple tense respectively after having viewed video stories with my learners. As you can see, the customizing options are practically limitless. If you have liked it, do not doubt to access to the Hot Potatoes example sites, tutorials, downloads, etc. and start testing it out!
A blog itself is another fantastic ICT tool to promote learners’ reading and/or listening comprehension, as well as written and/or oral expression. In addition, this will also contribute to the interaction among students and the teacher. As you can read in the image below, its advantages are many.
Thus, we can create a class blog for the above mentioned purposes, as well as a cross-curriculum tool.
An example of an activity could be to post a text or an audiovisual related to a topic which is being studied in another subject and launch a series of questions in order to start a written debate in the blog which could end with a final group oral discussion in the class.
The possibilities of using ICT on the teaching-learning process are endless. However, it is very important to assess students’ needs and their cognitive stage in order to determine the most appropriate technique and tool, since we cannot forget that face-to-face and ICT driven methodologies need to be combined.
Lifelong learning on ICT must be taken into account. Technology evolves so quickly that there are constantly new ICT tools on the Net we could easily incorporate into our daily teaching practice.
This website, www.teachertrainingvideos.com, offers interesting free on-line training videos to learn how to use the latest ICT tools in relation to ESL.
As an example, you can click on the image below to access to the training video about the software program Dvolver Moviemaker, which can be used not only as a teaching resource, but also as a learning tool which enables and motivates learners to create and write their own stories having fun.