The use of Technology in the ESL classroom
By MA Victor Escalante
“Excellence is never an accident. It is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, and intelligent execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives – choice, not chance, determines your destiny.” – Aristotle.
Technology is becoming increasingly important these days, using it in our classroom is always a good idea, students get engaged right away because they live in an era where using devices is like drinking a cup of coffee, so, if we innovate and use platforms, videos, and apps for teaching, we could get good results with our students. Just to mention some of the advantages, we might say that they improve engagement, they improve knowledge retention, students can learn useful life skills (soft skills) through technology.
Tools were designed for specific uses; they were created to do our job more efficiently saving so much time. The best use of these tools is when their capabilities align with our goals. Technology has dramatically changed the ways we work, learn, interact, and spend our leisure time.
The benefits we might get are so many, but we need to take care of not abuse it, abuse of technology in the classroom could get the opposite of what we want to; if we do not use it in a responsible way, our students could have excessive screen time; distractions, they could do cheating in class and less human interaction. That is why we need to take the advantages of using technology in our ESL classroom but with responsibility.
Technology offers new ways of teaching and learning and provides new ways for all involved in education to be openly accountable to parents, communities, and students (National Research Council, 1995). Thanks to the numerous resources that we have on the websites we need to be careful once we decide to evaluate our students, just to mention a few of them, we have:
-Schoology and Google Classroom are two platforms where students can share their tasks, express their thoughts, decreases paperwork and they are benefiting because they are enhancing their skills in the process.
-Videos and documents are easy to upload so students will find out these platforms very useful, and for the teachers is pretty easy to use them, because we can work in every place we are, the only requirement is to have a device near to us. Using websites is one of the easiest and least stressful ways of getting started with technology in the classroom; some of them are:
http://www.teded.com/ , etc.
There are many resources in only one click, if we learn how to use them, we are going to have a very attractive and active class, one of the more interesting websites to use is Ted- Ed, you can use it to teach the four skills of the language but especially Speaking and Listening and students can use their devices without getting lost with many information.
One of the things that we have to take into account is our attitude to technology, Harmer (2011) mentions that many people are afraid of new technology, and, with the increasing presence of the internet and computers, the term technophobe has appeared to refer to those of us who might be wary of these new developments.
And he is right, another concept we could add here is the digital native, which refers to someone who grows up, using technology, who thus feel comfortable and confident with it, typically our students. And if we talk about digital natives, we must find out a concept to refer to those who have come late to the world of technology (digital immigrants). In other words, teachers are digital immigrants, and our younger students are digital natives.
A large part of the negative attitudes teachers have towards technology is usually the result of a lack of confidence, a lack of facilities, or a lack of training, however, as teachers, we need to be aware of the challenge of maintaining up to date information, knowledge, and resources available on the internet. For example, some websites or video clips.
Teaching English by using technology is a necessity in today’s world, students of this era use a lot of devices and technology and we need to be ready for them. So, we have to explore the tools and analyze whether they are useful and high quality, because we need to provide our students the best experience in the class as Aristotle mentioned many years ago, Excellence is never an accident.