Technology is quickly becoming an integral aspect of the classroom. Students are now able to use the internet and computers to enhance their education and engage with content and peers.
As an ELL student turned Harvard graduate, I have always been passionate about ELL education. That’s why we created Super ELL, a success course designed to increase the academic and life potential of ELL students. These students face unique challenges with culture and confidence. Yet, these students also have tremendous opportunities.
Technology is creating even more opportunity for ELLs. Software and web-based tools give students an integrated experience to develop their language acquisition and content knowledge. Teaching ELL students via technology helps them to acquire the necessary skill-sets for 21st century success, and allows educators to meet diverse and individual needs.
If you’re an ELL educator looking to incorporate technology into your classroom here are two recommendations:
Understand different levels of experience
As an ELL educator, you know the importance of identifying gaps in knowledge. The gaps within technology may include vocabulary and previous exposure to software and hardware. There will be varying degrees in technology vocabulary understanding, for example, a student may understand that mouse means a four-legged rodent, but may not know that it is also a computer tool. Similarly, students will have different technological backgrounds. Some have had years of practice with computers, but others you will need to spend additional time on the basics. If your students needs additional help, extend practice time with scrolling, dragging, clicking, or using a search engine.
Provide meaningful interaction with content
There is a plethora of resources available to use in the classroom to enhance ELL education and engage students. Many of these resources are great at language acquisition and content knowledge, but here at Mawi Learning, we are passionate about Social Emotional Learning. Other than use Super ELL in your classroom, educators can use additional technology resources to increase non-cognitive skills in students. Some of our favorite resources include digital field trips and connecting students to other cultures. Digital field trips, like Inside the White House and NASA’s Eyes on the Solar System can provide an interactive experience in an area that a student shows interest in. Today there are many social networking sites to increase communication with their home culture and community, but sites like ePals connect students cross-culturally. These are experiential and authentic ways for students to absorb new information.
What other suggestions do you have for ELL educators to increase technology competence in the classroom? Please let us know in the comments!