ICT for students learning English - NESB or ESOL
I think that the web offers a wide-range of wonderful learning opportunities for ESOL or NESB students. It is really important that teachers know their students well enough and understand their needs, but also that teachers know the range of technologies that they have available to them to best support their students’ learning.
When we look at online learning opportunities, these range from applications that can be completely open - viewed and contributed to by anyone in the world, right through to applications that are very closed - only certain people are invited into the community and may contribute - such as Moodle - or to make the community even smaller - using the group function within Moodle.
One of the language teachers I work with, Florence Lyons, uses a combination of Nings or Wikis to connect her students with students from other schools from around the world who are also learning the language. While she is working with students learning a foreign language rather than NESB or ESOL students, she says that she would prefer her students working with other students learning French rather than with students of a similar age who are native French speakers. Florence says, “when I said to people about this experience they all asked why I didn’t do that with a French school. Easy to answer. When you are 15 or 16 you don’t feel very confident and you know that your level of French is not very high. Why would I have put them in front of kids who speak fluently French. Realistically we all know how boring it is to speak with people who just start to learn a language, it requires a lot of patience that you don’t have when you are 16. But I do believe that you feel ok when you speak with people who have the same level of language as you”.
I think that online platforms can be developed to really support students learning English as it gives them the opportunity to move at their own pace, but also to both approach new information and demonstrate their understanding through a range of mediums - video, image, written text and sound. The ability to use video in particular is extremely powerful. There are plenty of activities you can create simply using video, having students watch without the sound on and then describe what is going on is one example and YouTube is a fantastic resource for finding videos. The BBC have also created videos for Learning English.
Voki allows users to create an avatar or character which speaks text that is entered into the Voki site - meaning students can listen to text being read to them. Alternatively, students can record themselves speaking and the Voki avatar will speak it back to them. Is a much less threatening way to get students communicating and is heaps of fun.
Wordle is a FANTASTIC site - check it out - plenty of classroom applications for this - ie. copy and paste a paragraph from a text or a website or a newspaper article and discuss the results.
As with all tools, it is not the tool that is the most useful part, it’s what teachers do with it… Here are a list of a few resources for ESOL teachers…
ESOL resources blog
This is a fantastic resource which has a wide range of activities putting learning English in to an authentic learning context
BBC English - words in the News
This resource looks at words used throughout the week in the news and helps students to understand their context and meaning.
BBC English - quizzes
Play the game to test your vocabulary skills. There are thousands of words to practise.
BBC English - You Tube
A YouTube channel put together by the BBC for use with students learning English. A FANTASTIC resource.
Available for free download
Image by Eole used under creative commons license