Teach English in XibohuA Zhen - Tongliao Shi

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If you were to type “the benefits and/or negatives of teaching aids” into Google, you would receive a multitude of responses both for and against the employment of technology and teaching aids in the classroom. The focus of this essay will be more specifically around the responsibility of incorporating technology in the classroom. “Technology” in this sense will be referred to any technological equipment, or device, that incorporates or is hinged around a computer, device, or the internet. Teachers that grew up in the early 00s, the 90s or earlier are not considered to be “digital natives”, they were not brought up in an environment that was centred around technology. However, most houses and classroom environments are now heavily reliant on a technologically-assisted life. Most textbooks are found online, schools are diverting into a “1 to 1” iPad ratio and it is becoming increasingly hard to conduct an educational course without the use of it, including social media. Although not necessarily digital natives, this is not an excuse for general ignorance or misuse of technology of the classroom. It is also not an excuse for pure negligence. Technology can be an empowering tool when used correctly. The benefit of teachers not being digital natives is that they will understand an educational system void of technology, so will be familiar with techniques and teaching aids that are completely free of technological reliance. The key is to find balance in the incorporation but not reliance on technology to assist students in their language acquisition. It is a teacher’s responsibility to accurately know what is required from them from within the curriculum and what resources are available to them. Taking on this responsibility might look like arriving 15 minutes early to the classroom. This would allow time for the teacher to connect and ensure that elements required are currently available. Even if something worked just one week prior, that does not guarantee that it will still be working the following week. This is especially important for teachers travelling overseas to teach English, the standard of technology might vary greatly from what they were used to in their country of origin. Teachers should also find out what information or resources are available to them from their school of employment – are there specific training manuals? Are there orientations or introductory classes? These are all part of the teacher’s responsibility in using technology in the classroom. At times, technologically inexperienced teachers will need to rely on the students’ help to troubleshoot, which costs the time of the class and this is not what the students had paid for. Technology shouldn’t be seen as a scary or unattainable teaching aid. It can be very user friendly, should the basics be understood. YouTube is an invaluable source to gaining information and skill and teachers should not be afraid to find an online community that can help them understand the resources that are available to them. Teachers should be excited about advancements in technology, using a smart board as an example. It can be used in a traditional way but it can also be used to increase student participation and create a dynamic learning atmosphere. However, the teacher should bear in mind that before technology a certain amount of preparation time was required in lesson planning and producing teacher aids (e.g. flash cards). Teachers should see skill acquisition as a part of lesson planning in order to save time in the classroom in the long run. Another responsibility that teachers have regarding technology in the classroom is know when NOT to use it. There are several systems of thought that believe technology is limiting social and emotional connectivity. If a teacher has shifted all of their planning elements to be technology based, this might only deliver short-term gain. There is potential to lose the opportunity for lasting and deep social connection. Language is a tool of communication and relationships are hinged on communication. Teachers should understand that teaching English is teaching effective relational skills as well. This is why discernment is necessary when choosing which teaching aids are appropriate for which element of the lesson plan. Referring back to the thought of digital natives, if the teacher is not defined as a digital native, this is a perfect opportunity to develop inter-personal skills as part of the language development. Pulling from a range of activities that were popular before technological reliance. Lastly, it is important to understand your students’ needs in all of this. As well as their ability to reproduce what they learn after the lesson is over. If a lesson is purely based on technology but they are unable to access that same technology at home, this can limit their continual development. As with every element of the classroom, it is a good idea to get feedback. Knowing when to incorporate technology and when not to. Lastly, teachers shouldn’t be afraid of introducing new things when the timing is right. Scary can sometimes be good. And this allows the teacher to develop their skillset and deepen their teaching. Technology should be approached holistically. Harnessing its potential whilst recognising its limitations. It should not be depended upon but it also should not be neglected. When teachers understand its capacity, equip themselves with a skillset and include their students in the incorporation of it then it will be an invaluable teaching aid. And just as the name suggests, it should aid and not overtake.