Remember not that long ago, when we worried that technology would distract students and take over teachers’ jobs? It is safe to say those predictions have not come to fruition. Instead, technology is used in classrooms all over the world to enhance learning and engage students, who themselves are digital natives.
Today, everything from instruction to planning to homework assignments can be created and completed online. In addition, the online environment allows students to be more collaborative with peers outside of the school building. Technology also allows students to access information anywhere at any time, meaning they can finish those last minute research projects without worrying about library hours.
What is more, technology makes learning more accessible to students who need additional support. That is an important component of using tech in the classroom.
Let us take a look at the four domains of language to see how technology can enhance instruction for ESL students:
The rise in popularity of one-to-one devices means ESL students can have tablets or e-readers that are set up to their specifications. These devices might include dictionary apps with pronunciation guides or even reading apps with those dictionary features built right in. Vocabulary building software can be added, as well. And, of course, students can use read aloud functionality to help access difficult texts. There are even programs that allow you to pull content from websites into an app that will read the text aloud.
Surprisingly, the old word processing tech works well for ESL students. Most document-based writing programs include features like spelling and grammar checks and thesauruses and dictionaries. There are apps to download and plug in to these word processing programs that go deeper with a more robust writing analysis. These types of apps will help students see exactly what is wrong and why. Some programs even have built in activities to practice correcting those common errors.
ESL students spend a lot of time listening before they feel comfortable speaking. Using tech ensures they have multiple chances to listen throughout the day. If you record your lessons or work in a flipped or blended environment, students can go back and listen to the instructions as many times as needed. Audio books help them listen to the texts they may struggle to read. Podcasts are great ways for ESL students to listen to fun information and be exposed to different styles of speech.
Real-time video conferencing software is a great way to promote speaking for ESL students. Connect students with others and have them give presentations, ask questions or participate in roundtable discussions with people in class and far away. Most devices have easy-to-use audio recording software. Encourage students to record notes or practice speaking and listening back.
If you think working with and supporting students who are learning English is your dream role, check out the Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education with an Emphasis in English as a Second Language or the Master of Arts in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) degrees at Grand Canyon University. If you are specifically interested in helping schools and teachers select the best technology to support ESL students, the Master of Science in Instructional Technology degree may be for you.
To learn more about how Grand Canyon University’s College of Education provides teachers with the best ways to support students with varying language needs, visit our website or click the Request More Information Button on this page.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University.