I’m preparing a session on using technology in ELT and I wanted to ask my fellow English teachers what technology you use on a daily basis. The variety of tools and services out there is absolutely daunting, and I wonder which ones you find useful across a broad range of topics, levels, groups and learners, and which resources you often recommend to your learners.
Here’s my current list of top tools:
- A file sharing service (I use dropbox) to share all kinds of files with the learners. I have a dedicated folder for every group and basically upload everything that we’ve used (audios, videos, presentations, the documents that were created in class and so on) to that folder for them to access at home or on the go (all documents are automatically synchronized and accessible from any device anywhere). The learners occasionally upload there their homework, e.g. audio recordings.
- A way to share links and get in touch with the learners out of class. I teach in company, so I use instant messaging, since all my learners have Skype accounts. So I create a Skype chat for every group – it’s used to remind the learners of the homework, share useful links related to the topic of the lesson, and so on. The learners use it to ask occasional questions, post their writing homework there before class, so I can print it out and come to the next class with marked assignments. As an alternative with teens, I used social media (when I was teaching groups in which all learners had an account) – this did wonders to their motivation to do writing assignments. Not sure what I’d use with learners who don’t all have accounts on the same service.
- Microsoft Excel to maintain a log of learners’ emerging language / language feedback and to generate revision cards.
- Google image search to look for pictures. Occasionally, Windows Snipping tool to instantly copy those images. Microsoft Power Point to show those images in class.
- Youtube videos. My own tool Hydra to look for youtube videos with target topics / grammar / lexis (unfortunately, it’s not working properlyl at the moment) and as a corpus of spoken English when questions about usage arise in class.
- Online dictionaries, especially Oxford Learners’ Dictionaries to help write definitions for worksheets. A collocations dictionary to check my own writing and to show the learners how their word choices could be improved.
- A laptop to have access to all of that in class.
- My wordpress and twitter feeds and especially Teaching English – British Council web page to get new teaching ideas.
When I was teaching teens, I also used to use
- Quizlet to set vocabulary revision homework.
- Google to look for ready-made quizzes, e.g. ‘Present Perfect interactive quiz‘
- busyteacher.org to look for worksheets
(This is all that came to mind, but if I think of more, I’ll update the post.)
So, could you possibly share your favourite tools that you would recommend to teachers who are starting out?