What it is: |
A host of technology-based strategies work within the context of best practices for the EL classroom, including the use of background information, authentic learning, summarizing, and the use of advance organizers.
How does it work: |
Technology enhances four of the best classroom practices for
students who are English Learners. (Dukes, 2005)
- Provide background information: Use multi-media Internet sites to provide background or context. For example, when introducing Vasco da Gama's voyages, a visit to the European Voyages of Exploration website provides animated maps.
- Increase interaction: Students can be paired with native English speakers for email exchange, using safe email or chat room programs, such as ePals.
- Make learning authentic: Students can pursue their own interests on the Internet. Popular music, video clips, and graphics can increase comprehension. Articles can be made accessible using text-to-speech utilities and translation sites, such as PROMT-Online.
- Create a positive learning environment: The non-judgmental nature of the computer allows most students to make errors without embarrassment, and can provide immediate feedback and correction. This can be as simple as writing in Microsoft Word with the spell-check turned on, or using an English language tutorial, such as the BBC. You can customize their Learning English site with a choice of 26 different native speaker's languages. The Voice of America Special English site is one of many that has word lists and quizzes.
Technology can also help implement the following five suggested
- Draw pictures when needed. If you're not an artist, use Internet resources to find the right pictures. The Internet Picture Dictionary is multi-lingual, with many school-related images. Little Explorers Picture Dictionary links multi-lingual pictures with encyclopedia entries. Google has an image search engine that is fast and easy. Microsoft has a large free clip art library and Wikipedia illustrates most of it's encyclopedia entries with graphics. Streaming video can provide a dynamic visual.
- Check often for understanding, by having students demonstrate their learning in order to show comprehension. Also, highlight main ideas and key concepts. Use of electronic highlighting or cut and paste allows students to pick out the words that fit a criteria, such as adjectives, or phrases that illustrate key concepts. Electronic highlighting can also be used by the teacher before the student reads text passages, to draw attention to specific ideas or facts.
- Present information in a variety of ways. Software and web-based resources allow teachers to gather video clips, pictures, maps, audio clips, and other means of presenting information. PowerPoint, Kidspiration/Inspiration, and other software programs allow multi-media presentations. A digital camera can be used to augment and personalize information. The Breaking News English.com site, described below in Resources, presents information both in text and spoken audio files.
- Provide frequent summations of the salient points of a lesson, and always emphasize key vocabulary words. Web resources can help emphasize vocabulary. The Visual Thesaurus is a unique tool for showing words in relation to other vocabulary. Provide reading materials with simplified text. The spell check in Microsoft Word has an option that provides the reading grade level for text passages. Teachers use this when deciding what text to present, or to check the results after they have simplified a selection.
- Provide students with advance organizers, such as
outlines, study guides, "while you read" questions, and diagrams which
present overviews of new material to be studied. Teachers use word
processors or graphic organizers to develop advance organizers so that
they can be adjusted for different groups of students. Students using a
computer-based version of an advance organizer can fill in the blanks
on the computer, which may facilitate writing for some students.
Teacher John Hendron provides an illustrated overview of advance organizers. For a second grade example, using Inspiration, visit Focus on Effectiveness.
Dukes, C. (2005) Best Practices for Integrating Technology Into English
Language Instruction, SEIRTEC News Wire, SouthEast Initiatives
Regional Technology in Education Consortium, 7 (1) Retrieved 11/1/2005
Reed, B. and Railsback, J. (2003). Strategies and resources for
mainstream teachers of English language learners. Portland, OR:
Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory. Retrieved 11/1/2005 from http://www.nwrel.org/request/2003may/
Randall's ESL Cyber Listening Lab uses RealAudio to allow users to listen and check their comprehension of English.
Grammar Self Study Quizzes are for ESL Students at all levels.
Dave's ESL Cafe has quizzes, phrases, slang, student forums, and more.
Learn English Central is a British site with word games, jokes, songs, activities, and support for teachers.
ESL Blues uses animated tutorials and quizzes for the pre-intemediate to high intermediate English learner.
Breaking News English.com is updated daily and offers EFL / ESL materials on current affairs. Each lesson comes in easier or harder versions, including online, PDF, and Word versions of news articles, and communication activities, along with spoken word versions (MP3 audio files) that can be downloaded.
Simple English Wickipedia, written for with easier words and shorter sentences, is useful for English-learners.