The teaching of English, like every other discipline, has had to roll with the times, and now there are many technologies which can assist in educating eager learners.
From a learner’s perspective, as well as from teachers’, these technological innovations have been good news. When applied correctly, this new technology not only makes the learning process quicker, but more fun and interactive too, which is essential.
If you are a teacher of English, the most important thing when educating is to apply the learning to the real world: if students cannot associate the value of what they are learning with real scenarios, then the learning will not be appreciated. So above all, use this technology to show students how English – or any language – is a living, breathing thing. It’s the way we interact every single day of our lives. What can be more real than that?
Without further ado, these are just five of the technological advances that have facilitated a better and more efficient system for learning English.
Interactive websites and apps
There are loads of examples of websites and apps that exist to make the learning of English fun, relevant and challenging. Whether the student wants to learn from the comfort of their own home or on the go, or the teacher wants to offer supplementary materials to English language courses, there are a multitude of offerings.
The BBC Learning English site and accompanying app offers all manner of interesting content including videos and activities to help students learn the language, while the British Council governing body offers similarly useful and interesting content, providing exam preparation materials to boot. The Cambridge English site is equally effective, offering grammar, vocabulary, listening and reading activities. It’s just a case of researching what’s out there and choosing what’s right for you or your students.
Online writing assistants
Have you ever tried an online writing assistant, which not only offer templates to assist with your writing content, but highlight grammar, structural and spelling mistakes as well?
Linguix offers an AI-powered writing assistant that can help you create all kinds of writing content, and even offers definitions and synonyms of highlighted words, providing you with an effective means to develop your vocabulary.
The number of interactive games that there are available to assist in learning English is, quite frankly, remarkable. Not all apps are made equal, but it’s easy to find games that are fun to play and have use for learning.
From vocabulary game apps such as vocabulary.com or 7 Little Words, to apps that help with pronunciation such as Macmillan education’s excellent (and free) Sounds App or the ELSA Speak app, which helps you learn to speak English with an American accent.
Listening has always been a vital element of learning a language, and now that activity can be facilitated by using the mighty podcast, which has grown immensely in popularity in recent years. Download podcasts to your device and listen on the go, so you never need lose an opportunity to listen to English.
Listening to absolutely anything in English will help, so choose podcasts that interest you on the likes of the Apple store or Spotify. But there are also, unsurprisingly, podcasts aimed specifically at those learning English, such as the BBC’s 6 minute English, the British Council podcasts series, or the Voice of America series.
The amount of video content available online is staggering, but when selecting content specifically for the purpose of learning English, think of two important considerations.
The first is the suitability of the material to the level of learner. This is the same if you are the learner yourself: don’t choose anything too complex. There is value in watching anything, but definitely try to find something which doesn’t lose you or your students immediately.
The second consideration is the availability of subtitles. Subtitles are crucial when watching something in English, for the very reason that it helps you connect the pronunciation and spelling of the word, which can often be very hard to do in English. The TEDTalks series is an excellent example of videos which have subtitles available, and there is also a TED series pitched directly at English learners with lessons designed around the specific video content.