English teachers look for new and interesting ways to stimulate our language learners. Provided in this section are some not-so-commonly-used techniques for adding that “new twist” to your English or foreign language classes. Giving learners something new does wonders in relieving boredom, spiking interest and lowering the Affective Filter of learners on whom you may have “tried everything”. This affective filter means an imaginary wall that is placed between a learner and language input. If the filter is on, the learner is blocking out input. The filter turns on when anxiety is high, self-esteem is low, or motivation is low. So low anxiety classes are better for language acquisition.
This section reflects on the following topics, allowing learners to:
- to show their knowledge of a specific topic set by their schools
- to demonstrate their ability in giving presentations on specific topics, using various social media tools, maps, videos, etc.
- to have knowledge of other EU countries
- to develop their speaking, writing, listening and reading skills by social media tools
Teaching a foreign language by using social media is a fairly new method which is slowly making progress in youth culture. Students are motivated very well in studying English as a language used in Twitter, Youtube, Clickr, Wikipedia and other social tools because they are eager to obtain news and improve their language level.
Today, the information age has replaced the industrial age and has compressed time and distance. This is transforming world economies from industrial production to information-based goods and services. There is another article on this topic if you are intersted in learning more about the role of social media in a transforming world.
Since education has always been about exposing people to new ideas, it is not surprising that the impact of social media is being felt in the education sector. Middle schoolers are not necesserily taking part in social media sites themselves, they are learning the skill sets required for successful social networking. Students are being taught new concepts like online privacy so that social media is influencing education at its very foundation. There is an article on security and safety in this curriculum, too. Students spend more of their own time using the computer at home, playing online games, chatting on their mobile phones, and connecting with their friends on social media sites like Facebook. Computer mediated communication is closing the gap between spoken and written English. It encourages more informal conversational language and a tolerance of diversity and individual style, and has resulted in Internet English replacing the authority of language institutes and practices.
English is used for more purposes than ever before. Vocabularies, grammatical forms, and ways of speaking and writing have emerged, influenced by technological and scientific developments, economics and managements, literature and entertainment genres. Three factors continue to contribute to this spread of English:
- English usage in science, technology and commerce,
- the ability to incorporate vocabulary from other languages and
- the acceptibility of various English dialects.
Students take a theme or topic and work together to present their ideas in a cohesive format. They can write individual or group report and then work together to present to the rest of the class a programm, or a newscast, that has an introduction and conclusion. This activity can be done as a daily or weekly presentation that allows students to share topics of interest. The class can post presentations and reports on blogs, on social networking sites, or as collaborative, cross-cultural exchanges. While blogs or networking sites would be problematic in contexts where access to the Internet as limited or not available, in-class newscasts can work anywhere, and teachers can incorporate them as a regular feature or their classes. Another option for class newsletters is to publish shorter articles on a class blog (http://www.blogger.com as one example)
or on collaborative, customized social networking websites such as http://www.ning.com For newscasts, students can make live presentations to the class or record their sessions and save them as podcasts or post them as videos on sites such as www.youtube.com. There is another article that explains how to use youtube videos in the classroom.
A good example is a practical chapter, which is available for students of intermediate level of English and other people who are focused on tourism in the Czech Republic and prefer sightseeing tours. We teach tourism so that students have a good opportunity to know detailed information about history, art and geography. Using ICT tours, social media, self-studying and giving presentation we can stimulate interests to visit the beauties of the Czech Republic. We are ready to give students questions or prompts to respond to and ask them to think and write down their thoughts. After a few minutes we put them into pairs or small groups and ask them to discuss what they know about that topic. Then we can hold a class discussion and invite students to share their thoughts with the whole class.
- Using Youtube in lessons.
It can be, for example, a conversation lesson with a native speaker in which one student is taking pictures, the second is speaking, the next is making Youtube video. Then all the class is taking part actively in communication by asking and answering questions in Facebook.
- Using Flickr in English lessons
This is the platform where we can view and upload pictures and photos. In English lessons we can use it in activities such as describing pictures, comparing them (what is similar or different, who are the people, what do they look like, the atmosphere, relationship, place, weather, season of the year)
- Using Twitter
This is a community platform where we can read and post short messages that you send via your mobile phone or tablet. The students can communicate with various people, even with celebrities, politicians and other influential people and organisations, which makes it very interesting.
This is an online encyclopedia, in which every student can contribute to an article on a certain topic. There can be some general topics as family, relationships, health, travelling, shopping, eating habits, holidays etc. Some special topics can be focused on UNESCO Heritage list in various countries of EU, touristic attraction in EU, culture, music, politics, economics, sports, social life etc.
Using an iPod
Do your learners carry iPods or cellular phones? Don’t curse and swear at them for using technology in their lives. Turn it to your advantage! A number of good websites now exist that can get you and your learners up and running using this latest new technology for language learning and practice. Here are useful website for more podcasting information:
- Podcast Pickle http://www.podcastpickle.com
- Internet TESL Journal http://iteslj.org/links/ESL/Listening/Podcasts/
- Letting Learners Create Lesson Materials
Take a day to switch roles with a teacher. Have you ever let your learners write an exam? How about planning a fun class? Having a “hot” conversation on a topic that THEY want to talk about – music, movies, cute guys/gals, techno-babble? Nothing is taboo – well almost nothing, anyway! What do you think they’ll talk about? You’d be surprised! The aim of the lessons is to create new videos on youtube, flickr or pinterest, for example. The students can communicate during the process with help of blogger.
Join the Club
Let’s all go to the Reading Club. What you don’t have one? Use prompts, use realia, use pictures, music or whatever you and your learners may have on hand to start, stop and sustain the activities, reading articles and stories online. For example : http://www.readingonline.org
Students can contribute to the lessons with their own videos from school.
Blogger Every student can have his or her own blog, where they present their opinion on a certain topic of everyday life. They can also conduct a diary to keep information about school activities and school subjects. Try out some of these not-so-commonly-used techniques for adding that “new twist” to your English or foreign language classes. Give your learners something new to relieve any boredom and spike their interest. Can’t you just hear those Affective Filters falling now? A number of good websites now exist that can get you and your learners up and running using this latest new technology for language learning practice.
- http://www.EnglishCLUB.com (grammar: pronunciation,letter writing)
- http://www.yourdictionary.com (pronunciation, difinitions)
- http://www.m-w.com (word games, definitions, synonyms, antonyms)
- http://www.allwords.com (creative writing, dictionaries)
- http://www.blogger.com (publishing short articles)
- http://www.ning.com (live presentations)
- http://www.youtube.com (making podcasts and posting them as videos)