Nov 21 2017

Ed Tech Helps English Language Learners Flourish

Tech like Microsoft's OneNote and G Suite for Education helps teachers level the playing field for ELL students.

In diverse classrooms, teachers and administrators are always seeking new ways to support English language learners. Luckily for them, technology has introduced a new learning dynamic that facilitates language learning.

As many ELL students struggle to assimilate to the new language, they need constant support from teachers. Teachers provide the foundational skills for ELL students to grasp basic concepts in writing, speaking and reading.

In addition to using classic techniques such as essay writing, many teachers are incorporating digital media into ELL classrooms. Variations in instructional media allow teachers to focus on teaching and allow students to access the learning process.

How Do ELL Students Engage with Technology?

Efficiently providing computers or tablets to practice language learning increases the chances that students will acquire a new language. Technology can help to personalize learning for these students and let them learn at their own pace.

In many of my secondary classes, I often relied on tablets or computer labs for students to interact with various platforms. From digital creations to writing essays, students used different types of technological tools to display their knowledge.

When I used interactive notebooks in my classes — such as Microsoft OneNote, which has learning tools that can specifically support ELL students — I noticed an improvement in student engagement. Giving students access to digital notebooks allowed them to integrate prior knowledge to a more in-depth learning experience.

Digital media has truly broadened the scope of education. Technology can boost creativity, reading skills and metacognition — thinking about one’s thinking. Students tend to engage and collaborate on projects when technology is made available.

Blended learning technology, such as Google Classroom, can provide one example. Students can easily use the various cloud tools to make different presentations, stories or even comic book-style stories. The most engaging part is when students share their creations with classmates.

Using online programs or apps for reading comprehension breaks up the monotony of rote reading and answering questions. Chrome Extensions such as Stackup monitor reading and can be easily added to school computers to let teachers monitor progress.

Other useful tech tools that can help ELL students improve their language skills include: Read Naturally, Scientific Learning Fast ForWord, MindPlay and StoryJumper.

With so many tools available, teachers now have to consider creating more interactive lessons to track the reading progress of ELL students and the rest of the class.

I believe the future of teaching lies in using technology more consistently in the classroom because digital media offers access to knowledge without boundaries.

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