Using Language Learning Technology: A Personal Assessment

Wordle Word Cloud using Language Learning Technology post

What is the current state of Language Learning Technology (LLT) in my practice as a teacher of English? To be honest, I’m not as advanced as I could be, but I’m not in a state of panic either. You see, I’m a fast learner. Let me do a quick personal inventory of how I’m using LLT.

Firstly, thanks to my PLN informing me about “Prezi”, two weeks ago I made my first presentation (3 times) using a Prezi to a total of eighty elementary teachers. The topic was, “How to Teach Listening”. I was able to integrate text, video and photos, into a non-linear, dynamic format. It was a more visually attractive format and more engaging than a Power Point presentation would have been. To carry this over to my students, I can envision them doing research and then presenting their work by using a Prezi they have made.

Secondly, I write a reflective blog about anything that is related to my teaching of English. I write usually 2 to 3 blog posts per day (a lot), which I feel is helping me to better understand my practice, through making my thoughts visible. For my students, blogging would be a way to improve their writing skills. My blog would serve them as a model. I have used blogs, in a project based learning fashion, in the past.

Blogging is also bringing me into contact with the readers of the blog posts, and the interactions enrich me personally as a teacher and expand my knowledge. This is also giving me a sense of currency, of being up to date in my field. I use my blog to share ideas, resources, and material with colleagues.

Using my Blog to Link to my Prezi for Online Storage (English Summer Town 2011)

Thirdly, I made a podcast of a blogpost about the “Myth of the Native Speaker” and uploaded it to YouTube. I added music to the background of the podcast. I could have my students make podcasts to help them improve their pronunciation and listening.

Fourthly, I have two ELT Newsletters, powered by Twitter, and published every day. My students could similarly make contributions to the school newspaper, writing about their school activities. for example, they could interview a famous person and write it up.

In the same vein, I am participating in a Massive Open Online course with over seven hundred people. The course is called, “Connectivism and Connected Knowledge 2011 (#CCK11). This course sharpens my ability to grasp complex subject matter, and then, reduce it to its practical value for me as a teacher, and eventually, to help improve the learning of my students.

Another technology language learning tool I’m using is called “Wordle”. It’s a word cloud generator. There are so many uses of wordle, besides making word clouds. It can be used in the pre, while, and after acticities of reading, speaking, listening, and writing. It is highly versatile, and its use is only limited by the teacher’s imagination.

Finally, I recently used the Interactive White Board to help teach a grammar lesson. I have a tremendous amount of learning to do to become expert at using this resource, but I will improve quickly with time. The interactive capability could make the classes I teach more enjoyable and more engaging for the students.

As I look at what I’ve just written, I am struck by what seems to be randomness, a “one off” approach without any sense of sustainment. I would, at best, characterise this as “eclectic”, the integration of a wide variety of technological tools to help me and my students. At worst, I would say that there is no “method being employed”, only randomness.

It evokes a mental image of a child let free to roam in a candy shop, and being told you can have anything you want. Of course, you end up trying a little of everything, and if you are lucky, you find something that you really like, and keep coming back for more of the same. In my case, I’m continually trying new things, with no favorites emerging. Let’s be generous and call this eclectic.

To conclude, I have to ask myself the Quo Vadis question: Where is this going? I would hope that this is an evolutionary process, and that my use of LLT only keeps getting better. The evidence I would like to have is improved learning outcomes for my students. That’s the journey…

Best regards,
Thomas

About profesorbaker

Thomas Baker is the Past-President of TESOL Chile (2010-2011). He enjoys writing about a wide variety of topics. The source and inspiration for his writing comes from his family.
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