TECHNOLOGIES AND ENGLISH TEACHING, A WINNING COMBINATION.

In this video by BritishCouncilSerbia, David Crystal delves into the relation amongst language and technologies. If we bear in mind the ultimate FL teachers´ aim, the development of our students´ abilities to communicate in a FL in real-life scenarios, it seems reasonable to think that the materials and resources devised for the FL class should meet the needs of modern FL didactics; and therefore, be a valid medium to promote our students´ communicative competence.

This technological shift has brought about a twofold role of the teacher as searcher and organiser of resources (i.e. a YouTube video-story or already designed digital resources in platforms like Kahoot, amongst many others); and the creative role of designer of personalised and contextualised materials that meet both the needs of our students and the demands of modern FLT.

There is a great deal of activities to be developed using technologies; from the creation of our own songs and music videos (possible apps: Dubmush, Videostar), interactive presentations with music and animations (Powtoon app); or even bring to life our monsters with augmented reality (apps: Chromville, Aurasma). We can also take part in certain projects, such as eTwinning program or Erasmus+, to meet other European children and share some experiences that enrich their sociocultural competence.

There are plenty of benefits in the use of digital learning environments; and we inevitably need to make references to the use of ICT due to its versatility and weight in updated trends in FLT. As an evidence of the impact of digital resources in daily teaching practice, in recent years concepts like digital competence are stressed in the curriculum as indispensable to provide quality in education.

The current use of the IWB is particularly useful not only to present content and information, but also to model learning to learn strategies. Another use of the IWB is related to the teacher´s elaboration of authentic materials. The sophisticated software of these smart boards may offer the possibility to create working units in which we can insert videos, documents in word processor, photographs and images, and the like. Besides, these “blank pages” for creating teaching materials are invaluable resources to work on all communicative skills; and have the advantage of being absolutely adapted to our specific group of students.

A classroom blog is an easy-to-devise and simple way to get students receive information at home, and use the FL to express their feelings and opinions about familiar classroom issues. Basically, a blog is a type of website that allows readers to add comments. Another advantage is that reading a blog devised by the FL teacher does not pose an unreachable challenge, since it has been specifically created with our students in mind. The content to be uploaded to the blog shall depend on the developmental stage and communicative competence of our group of students. In guise of an example, we may think of simple games, “treasure hunts”, or simply information regarding their preferences (i.e. music, sports, favourite games, and the like).

There is no shadow of a doubt on the fact that rapid change is the most striking feature of ICT. This gives evidence of the role of the teacher as researcher, so as to integrate technologies successfully in the FL area.

To wind up this article, we shall outline some remarkable applications and their use for FL teachers:

  • As we have already pointed out, selecting a video from Youtube and editing it with Tubechop to concentrate on different linguistic tasks is a motivating way to work with songs.
  • In apps like Glogster we can create interactive multimedia posters to introduce topics, revise lexis, motivate and attract the learners´ natural curiosity and creativity.
  • With Stupeflix we can create and personalise videos to display children´s works like roleplays in the English blog.
  • Comiclife is an easy-to-use application for the creation of comics in which we can control, organise and edit bubble texts and images.
  • Taskmagic is a wonderful tool to create a series of empty templates to insert text, images and sounds. This app generates a range of stimulating games and practice activities based on the teacher´s selected input, so that the same information is recycled and reinforced in many different ways.
  • If we want to create games, quizzes or crosswords, we can make use of Kubbu, Kahoot or Plickers as excellent options.

The contextualising and communicative value of digital resources is undeniable, especially in the context of active methodologies like the project-based approach, and with students oftentimes referred to as digital natives. Somehow, we can assert without fear of contradiction, that the old “art and craft” manufacturing of adapted materials has clearly given way to a world of resources at the click of a mouse. Therefore, the most important role of the teacher in this concern is to keep abreast of ICT so that our students benefit from the massive amount of available possibilities.

Video by BritishCouncilSerbia

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