smartphones

Top Mobile Apps for English students

In class, we ask our students to put their them away but not surprisingly, smartphones become the most powerful tools for students to continue their language learning outside the classroom.

In recent times, more and more students have approached me to ask for app recommendations. There are hundreds of apps in the market and while it is true that not all provide good quality instruction, it is also worth keeping in mind that different apps cater to different learners and learning styles. Therefore, it is important to make students familiar with a variety of apps so they can choose the one that works for them.

One way to do this is to design a simple task on the first day of the course. Divide students into small groups of 3-4. Give each group a list of 3-4 apps to download, play with, and rate according to a set of defined criteria. Ask students to make a list of 3 pros and cons of each app. Then reshuffle students and in their new groups, students present all of their apps, the pros and cons, and the one they liked best. (more…)

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Real world, Mobile learning, ESL Classroom

Most ESL classrooms have a no phone policy. There are posters such as this one in every classroom at my school. I remind students on the first day to put their phones on silent, NOT vibrate – silent – before coming to class. And we do this to create a distraction-free learning environment.

But one of the other strains in our classroom talk is linking our learning to the outside world. We constantly tell our students to use the language, the skills learned in the classroom outside. And in order to make the learning transferable, we use authentic texts and videos and simulate real-life situations.

Then why the disconnect when it comes to using phones in class. Shouldn’t we try to find a way to integrate smartphones usefully in the learning process rather than ban them altogether, just in the spirit of connecting the real world and the classroom?

I watched a TEFL video recently about using TPR to make language memorable, and the instructor used digital cameras to inspire learners to use real language. Nowadays, every student has a powerful camera in their pockets and photo and video-sharing sites such as Instagram and Snapchat have become so popular, it’s a wonder so few teachers are still averse to using them. (more…)

Make shy students speak

Got shy students – use Morfo to make them speak. This app will come in handy if you and your students have Apple devices at school or personal machines. It’s also available on Windows phones but how many of those are there in this world!

Too bad they haven’t released an Android app. I’d love to play with this, especially because I work with Saudi female students. Saudi women usually don’t like having their photos or videos taken by anyone. While selfies are popular, most women don’t share their photos via the internet for fear of private data getting leaked over the internet.

So, in my case, all of my students would be categorized as camera-shy. (more…)

M-Learning: Making comparisons

Here’s a great activity for using mobile phones in ESL and bringing the class to life. This one was originally posted on the great resource website One Stop English. Sounds like it will be quite engaging and interesting for students, and quite productive too.

Students, especially mine in Saudi, love their gadgets. Almost every student has more than one phone, and everyone gets the latest iPhone on the market. At the risk of sounding cheesy, phones are to Saudis what Forever 21 is to me – cheap, so why not!

(more…)

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.