Teach English in Weiji Zhen - Xuzhou Shi

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Before the mass introduction of technology-enable teaching materials in classrooms in the early 2000s, educators of English had the long and arduous task of handwriting lessons onto OHP sheets; filling up entire blackboards with notes, erasing them, and starting all over again; and lugging heavy audio-visual equipment around. Fortunately, the days of relying solely on analog systems are long gone. In most modern and adequately funded classrooms today, teachers have at their disposal a variety of different digital and analog material that may help enrich the learning experience. While formal classroom methods such as board work and the use of course books are still integral in properly educating students about the fundamentals of a language, here are some technology-enabled ways to support classroom learning. 1. Gamification and Apps One of the ways English classrooms can be more interactive is to utilize apps to gamify the experience and add another dimension to students’ learning. The good thing is that this doesn’t cost much. With a bit of research an imagination, teachers can introduce a suite of learning tools such online games and apps to help build vocabulary (Grammar Up), keep faster learners engaged through level ups (Duolingo), and keep groups engaged (Heads Up, Pictionary). 2. Artificial Intelligence and Chatbots With recent developments of AI and machine learning technology, more and more programs are now using chatbots to responding to large numbers of inquiries. Teachers can use chatbot technology to help students practice writing in conversational English without the potential awkwardness of having a live person on the other end judging their work. AI assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa or Apple’s Siri, for example, are fun and interactive ways for students to practice their pronunciation, intonation, and encourage their curiosity. 3. Social Media For older classes, teachers can create private social media groups on platforms such as Facebook, TikTok, Youtube, and Twitter to encourage students to practice their written and spoken English. Through these platforms, teachers can share relevant authentic material and encourage students to share their work through social media posts, tweets, and short video submissions. 4. Podcasts Podcasts are a powerful tool that is often overlooked in classroom instruction. While there is a multitude of language-focused podcasts available in the market, students stand most to gain by listening to podcasts about topics that interest them the most. ESL learners in the UK, for example, can listen to podcasts from the BBC on a range of topics including football, fashion, politics, and local news. 5. Shared Calendars There is perhaps no better tool to introduce to learners of Business English than a shared calendar. For many busy professionals, English language classes come at the start or end of a workday and are often disrupted by a number of business- or family-related matters. To keep busy learners on top of their education, it is imperative to keep them up-to-date with lessons, homework, and course material through a collaborative and shared calendar. The most common ones used in the market are Google Calendar and Outlook. -- These are just some technology tools that can be used by teachers in the classroom to enhance the learning experience. While the idea of including technology may seem daunting or distracting to some, the speed by which modern society is evolving leaves no choice for teachers but to adap. The faster teachers will accept that they will have to work with technology to improve their practice, the better their lessons will flow.