Five reasons to use (new) technology in the EFL classroom

Read the first of a two-part blog on using technology in the EFL classroom written by our in-house trainer Laura B.

I’m a great believer of moving with the times, especially in an industry where the expectations and needs of the consumer change as rapidly as new technology is presented. There are many ways of integrating technology into your lessons, whether it’s through watching an engaging TED Talk (this one creates great discussion), listening to an industry-specific podcast or asking students to find information online. Other innovative methods include creating a word cloud, using learning apps and brainstorming collaboratively via mind mapping.

This article highlights five great reasons to brave technology in the classroom. Perhaps you can add some more? Tell us your ideas in the comments!

1.    Keeping things interesting and motivating
This might not apply to your students, but it’s often a breath of fresh air when an English language trainer comes to the classroom with things students haven’t seen. Remember those grammar gap-fill texts everyone knows from school? They’re likely met with a collective sigh from the participants. It’s rare that an activity with technology produces the same reaction. The website Memrise is great for creating vocabulary lists that students can revise at home or on the mobile app – the more they learn, the higher up the leaderboard they climb. A prize for the top place is a classic motivator.

2.    Involving everyone in the group

It is a constant struggle for any EFL trainer to keep everyone involved especially when there are differences in ability and motivation. A brainstorming tool such as Padlet allows each student to contribute from their own smartphone simultaneously with whatever motivates them most. Opening up the internet as a resource in the classroom allows your students to choose the medium by which to take part. All types of learners – visual or aural or spatial learners – can take part.

3.    Facilitating learner autonomy
In the same strain, giving students responsibility over their contributions is made easier when they can choose their method. Many trainers have successfully created blogs for their class – asking students to contribute and comment on a rotating basis. Creating a WhatsApp group for your class is an easy yet effective way to not only set homework or hear about absences but also for your students to share pictures, links and information amongst themselves. In both these techniques, students choose when to interact with each other.

4.    Opening up new possibilities
This one is a bit of a no-brainer – introduce new tools and you’ll automatically have more to play with, literally and figuratively. Someone who has never watched themselves hold a presentation has a limited idea of how they can improve. By filming them and assessing the footage together, the students themselves can often see what needs to be done.

5.    Learn with your students.
Once a teacher, no longer a learner? Of course not! Aside from falling under the heading of professional development, learning about new technology can be a fascinating and rewarding experience. Additionally, it can be incredibly motivating for students to be able to teach their teacher something. We might not all be technology experts, but it’s likely that someone in the classroom can lend a hand should we get stuck.

See the next post for five reasons NOT to use technology in the classroom!

By Laura B.