Month: January 2013

Smartphones in the ESL classroom

Most teachers, and I include myself, consider smartphones a distraction in the classroom. We ask our students to put away their gadgets at the start of class rather than integrating them, and using them to spark the learning process.
Of course, at the moment, students in my class only check their phones when
a. they are bored
b. they get a notification or call
And of course, smartphones will continue to be a distraction unless we, as teachers, learn how to seize the opportunities they hold within them and deploy them to our advantage (and our learners’) in the classroom and beyond.
Our fear of technology probably stems from our own experience with technology. In the last twenty years, computers have taken over our lives (and even in the language I’ve used in this sentence, I can sense my own prejudice, perhaps a nostalgia for the old days).
One of the things we need to remember is that the smartphones our students have in their pockets are a thousand times more powerful, more reliable, more responsive, and more interactive than the first technology we were exposed to. And this is the least powerful gadget they’ll ever own in their entire lives. For generation we teach, whether we like it or not, smartphones and tablets and laptops are as indispensable as electricity.
I’ll examine these reservations as well as practical solutions and ready-to-use ideas in upcoming posts.