The world is changing … learning should too!
It is 2016. The world has changed tremendously in the past twenty years. In fact, it has probably changed and developed faster in the past decade (10 years) than in any other period in history. With this in mind, I would like to begin this article with a memory of mine. I want to think back to 1998, when I was 18 years-old. Before going to university, I decided to go to the USA to spend a month as a volunteer working on a boat and teaching American kids about the environment and about ecology.
It was a fantastic trip. I loved it. But, it was my first time away from home and I really missed my parents. This situation was difficult because, with 1990s technology, it was not easy to talk to them. There was no Skype. There was no Facebook. There was no Whatsapp. I did not even have email or a mobile phone. So, the only way I could speak with my mummy was by using a phone card and an old-style pay-phone - the ones where you had to put money in! It was hell! And, we could not talk often.
The world is now a very different place. I live thousands of miles from my family, but it is much easier to communicate today. I can video-call via Skype. I can message instantly and send videos on Whatsapp. I can share all my photos on Facebook and Instagram. Almost everyone uses technology today … Even my mother who is 68. We use a lot of it in daily life and we should do the same when we are learning English. Technology can make our learning faster, better and more entertaining. I really believe technology can transform how we learn. Let me tell you a bit about this.
Now, when I talk about technology in education, I am not talking about replacing the teachers. I do not think we should have robot teachers or anything like that! That would be crazy! Today, I don't actually want to talk about what happens in the classroom - we will do that another time. Instead, my main focus is how students can use technology outside the classroom as a way of boosting and remembering what happens in class. Very simply, the more a student can practice, the better he or she will learn. Language learning does not stop at the classroom door. It should continue at home, at work or anywhere outside. What is better: to do a class of 40 hours or to do 40 hours in class and another 30 or 40 hours practice online?
All of the students who come my class will improve - I am an awesome teacher!!!!!!! But, some will improve more than others. This happens in every class that I teach. Why? Because I always set lots of tasks to do outside and recommend lots of practice at home. The students that work hard with this and do all the practice succeed a lot. They learn fantastic English. They make great progress. The ones who don't do so much make progress, but it is more difficult and it is slower.
At ADUC, I built a Learning Management System. This is a website with thousands of resources for students to use to practice. I built online quizzes. I built online flashcards. I built cool graphics to explain grammar. I built traditional grammar sheets students could print or download. There is a lot to use. I have many students who used these and did very well. They prepared for IELTS faster. They improved their English for work better. They understood more easily.
So, what is my conclusion for this article? The first point is that we are in a new world with sooooooooo much technology. We should use it for our English. In my classes at ADUC I do this a lot. The second point is that technology is a great resource for a student to use outside the classroom. It is not to replace the teacher, but to add to the teacher.
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